CBCP: Catholic faith ‘obliges’ people to refute fake news
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines released a pastoral letter advising Filipino Catholics to avoid and refute fake news.
The letter, signed by CBCP president and Lingayen Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas and released on Wednesday, mentioned the mission of Jesus Christ to “preach the truth.”
“We, the Filipino nation, are part of the community of disciples for whom He prayed,” Villegas wrote. “So it is that the Christian cannot be part of falsehood, deceit and lies.”
Villegas also explained how in cases such as murder, “any alternative fact that would have it so that no killing was done is simply false, and, when meant to deceive, a lie!”
“The duty to speak the truth is so elemental a demand of morality and of good social order that it can hardly be reduced to more elementary precepts,” he said. “It is almost as fundamental as the first principle of all morality: ‘Do good; avoid evil.’ Human life would be impossible in a society where we constantly and habitually deceived each other.”
The archbishop said “alternative facts” and fake news “engender faulty decisions many times with disastrous long-term consequences to persons and to communities.”
“Sadly, we see this happening today. There are persons who have given themselves to the service of reporting what never happened, concealing what really happened, and distorting what should be presented in a straightforward manner,” he said.
“The active involvement of citizens in creating a nurturing society steeped in justice depends on the truth,” Villegas said. “That is the service to which media is called.”
He said that while social media promised to democratize expression and disseminate the truth away “from the clutches of moneyed entrepreneurs financing mainstream media,” it has become a venue for fake news.
“Not only does this offend against the orientation of the human intellect to the truth,” he said. “It is, more fundamentally, a sin against charity because it hinders persons from making right and sound decisions and induces them, instead, to make faulty ones!”
Villegas went on to list down the acts that the “Catholic faith obliges us” to do:
- To refrain from patronizing, popularizing and supporting identified sources of “alternative facts” or “fake news.”
- To rebut and refute falsehood whenever they are in possession of facts and of data.
- To refuse to be themselves purveyors of fake news and to desist from disseminating this whether on social media or by word of mouth or through any other form of public expression.
- To identify the sources of fake news so that our brothers and sisters may be duly alerted and may now which media and which sites to shun. JE
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.