Pope warns about fake news – from experience

Pope Francis
Pope Francis delivers his speech during his weekly general audience in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis is warning about the dangers of fake news, and he should know: Earlier this year, he was reported — falsely — to have endorsed Donald Trump for U.S. president.

In an interview published Wednesday with the Belgian Catholic weekly Tertio, Francis repeated a frequent warning of his that the media can fall prey to spreading slander, scandal, defamation and disinformation.

He said: “Disinformation is probably the greatest damage that the media can do, as opinion is guided in one direction, neglecting the other part of the truth.”

Francis was a victim of fake news spread on social media, including the false claim that he had endorsed Trump. Popes do not endorse political candidates, though he urged Catholic voters to “study the proposals well, pray and choose in conscience.”