Pope Francis delivers the Urbi et Orbi on Christmas Day in 2021 at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. File Photo by Stefano Spaziani/UPI | License Photo
Jan. 28 (UPI) -- Pope Francis said that "fake news" about COVID-19 is spreading and that access to truthful information is a "human right" during an address to Catholic journalists Friday.
Francis, who spoke to the International Catholic Media Consortium from the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, urged journalists to continue to refute false information about the pandemic and vaccines.
"We can hardly fail to see that these days, in addition to the pandemic, an 'infodemic' is spreading: a distortion of reality based on fear, which in our global society leads to an explosion of commentary on falsified if not invented news," Francis said.
"Contributing, often unwittingly, to this climate is the sheer volume of allegedly 'scientific' information, comments and opinions, which ends up causing confusion for the reader or listener."
Francis praised the consortium for working together to combat disinformation relating to the coronavirus and said that their collaboration is "sending a message" during a time of "division" in society.
"To be properly informed, to be helped to understand situations based on scientific data and not fake news, is a human right," Francis said. "Correct information must be ensured above all to those who are less equipped, to the weakest and to those who are most vulnerable."
However, the pope said that journalists need to respect the individual people who believe "fake news" and warned them to refute disinformation without "an attitude of superiority."
"We should work to help provide correct and truthful information about Covid-19 and vaccines, without digging trenches or creating ghettos," Francis said.
Francis, who has often been vocal about the importance of vaccines, ended the address with a messaging to remember the victims of the pandemic and their families.
"Let us keep in mind those who, without having the virus, have died while serving the sick. They are the many quiet heroes of these times," Francis said.