Pope Francis had strong words for fake news, those who produce it and those who consume it, comparing involvement with it as falling prey to coprophilia, or a strong arousal from excrement.
The pope's harsh comments were published Wednesday in the Belgian Catholic weekly Tertio, reported Reuters.
"I think the media have to be very clear, very transparent, and not fall into – no offense intended – the sickness of coprophilia, that is, always wanting to cover scandals, covering nasty things, even if they are true," the pope said.
"And since people have a tendency towards the sickness of coprophagia, a lot of damage can be done," he continued.
It wasn't the first time Pope Francis used the term in connection with the media. The Business Insider reported in 2013 that while still Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, he talked about the media in an interview with La Stampa's Vatican Insider. He was addressing media coverage of the Vatican's reported controversial and powerful bureaucratic wing, the Curia.
"Journalists sometimes risk becoming ill from coprophilia and thus fomenting coprophagia: which is a sin that taints all men and women, that is, the tendency to focus on the negative rather than the positive aspects," he said then.
The pope also condemned the use of the media to slander political opponents, noted Reuters.
"The means of communication have their own temptations, they can be tempted by slander, and therefore used to slander people, to smear them, this above all in the world of politics," the pope said. "They can be used as means of defamation... No-one has a right to do this. It is a sin and it is hurtful."
Pope Francis has been the victim of fake news during the election year, with a phony outlet in July saying he had endorsed Donald Trump for president, said fact-checking site Snopes.com. Before that, another site falsely said the pope had endorsed former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
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