Vatican

Pope Francis calls spreading fake news a sin

DEC. 7: Pope Francis smiles to a baby as he arrives to lead the general audience in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican

DEC. 7: Pope Francis smiles to a baby as he arrives to lead the general audience in Paul VI Hall at the Vatican  (Reuters)

Pope Francis, who in the past has not shied away from offering his opinion on U.S. politics, said in an interview published Wednesday that “spreading disinformation” is probably “the greatest damage that the media can do” and called it sinful.

Pope Francis compared the spreading of fake news to the desire to eat excrement.

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“I think the media have to be very clear, very transparent, and not fall into—no offense intended—the sickness of coprophagia, that is, always wanting to cover scandals, covering nasty things, even if they are true,” he said, according to the report. “And since people have a tendency towards the sickness of coprophagia, a lot of damage can be done.”

The pope made the comments to Tertio, a Belgian Catholic weekly, which published the remarks Wednesday, according to Reuters.

Major websites like Facebook have vowed to crack down on fake news sites, but there is a debate on what exactly qualifies as fake news.

The issue of sharing fake news was highlighted when retired Gen. Michael T. Flynn's son, Michael G. Flynn, tweeted about the false idea that prompted a shooting at a Washington, D.C., pizza parlor. He had been promoting a conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton's allies had been operating a secret pedophilia ring in the restaurant and noted it would remain a story until "proven to be false."

Officials confirmed on Tuesday that the younger Flynn was no longer with the Trump transition team.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.