Do not be afraid to turn the hierarchy of news on its head, he said
Pope Francis told an association of Italian Catholic news agencies Monday to stay close to the Magisterium and to use their work to distinguish what is good from what is evil.
“To renew your harmony with the magisterium of the Church, I urge you to be a voice of conscience, of a journalism capable of distinguishing good from evil, human choices from inhuman ones,” he said on September 23.
“Because today there is a mishmash that does not stand out, and you must help in this. The journalist – who is the chronicler of history – is called to reconstruct the memory of facts, to work for social cohesion, to tell the truth at all costs.”
Pope Francis addressed the Union of Catholic Italian Press to mark their 60th anniversary. He noted a part of the organization’s statutes, which describes itself as “a professional and ecclesial association that finds inspiration in the service of the person, in the Gospel, and in the Magisterium of the Church.”
He counseled the Catholic press to have courage, and to be always respectful and never arrogant. “The [field of] communication needs true words in the midst of so many empty words,” he said.
“And in this you have a great responsibility: your words are told to the world and shape it, your stories can generate spaces of freedom or slavery, of responsibility or dependence on power.”
The Pope warned that what a journalist writes is sometimes passed through the “still” of “financial convenience” and the truth gets left behind for “what is not true, what is not beautiful, and what is not good.”
In the era of web journalism, he said the journalist’s task is to identify credible sources, and then contextualize, interpret, and properly order them.
He criticized the idea that a man could die from cold on the street and it would not be news, while instead, every news agency will talk about the stock exchange falling by two points.
Do not be afraid to turn the hierarchy of news on its head, he said, “to give voice to those who do not have it; to tell the ‘good news’ that generates social friendship: not to tell fairy tales, but good real news.”
Pope Francis also pointed to the example of Bl. Manuel Lozano Garrido (“Lolo”) a Spanish journalist who lived at the time of the Spanish War.
Beatified in 2010, he was the first secular journalist to be declared ‘blessed’ by the Church, Pope Francis said.
Despite living with an illness which forced him to be in a wheelchair for 28 years, Bl. Garrido “did not stop loving his profession,” the pope said.
“Truly a beautiful example to follow!”