The pope told the group that in its mission to combat disinformation and fake news, “the fundamental distinction between information and people must never be overlooked.”
He underlined that a Christian communicator should be a “builder of bridges” in the search for truth, rather than inciting conflict with “an attitude of superiority.”
“His or her approach … does not simplify reality, so as not to fall into a kind of ‘fideism’ when it comes to science,” Pope Francis said.
“Science itself is a constant process of advancing towards the solution of problems. Reality is always more complex than we think and we must respect the doubts, the concerns, and the questions that people raise, seeking to accompany them without ever dismissing them. A dialogue with those who have doubts.”
Pope Francis has repeatedly encouraged Catholics to be vaccinated and has promoted the fair distribution of vaccines throughout the world.
He said in a public service announcement produced in collaboration with the Ad Council last August that getting the COVID-19 vaccine is “an act of love.”
The Vatican underlined its support for COVID-19 vaccines shortly before Christmas amid the rapid spread of the omicron variant.
Pope Francis told the fact-checking group that “the search for truth” should not yield to the “commercial interests of the powerful.”
“Being together for truth also means seeking an antidote to algorithms projected to maximize commercial profit,” he said.
He added that the “antidote to every type of falsification is to let ourselves be purified by the truth.”
“For Christians, truth is never merely a concept having to do with judgment about things. Truth regards life as a whole,” Pope Francis commented.
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“The only reliable and trustworthy One – the One on whom we can count – is the living God. Hence, Jesus can say: ‘I am the truth’ (John 14:6). We discover and rediscover the truth when we experience it within ourselves as the loyalty and trustworthiness of the one who loves us,” he said.
Courtney Mares is a Rome Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Harvard University, she has reported from news bureaus on three continents and was awarded the Gardner Fellowship for her work with North Korean refugees.