Jan 29, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Pope Francis calls access to accurate COVID information 'a human right'

Pope Francis leads the Second Vespers, on January 25, 2022 in Rome, Italy.

Pope Francis leads the Second Vespers, on Jan. 25 in Rome. Photo: Alessandra Benedetti-Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Pope Francis on Friday denounced fake news about COVID-19, and criticized the "distortion of reality based on fear," AP reports.

Driving the news: "We can hardly fail to see that these days, in addition to the pandemic, an ‘infodemic’ is spreading: a distortion of reality based on fear, which in our global society leads to an explosion of commentary on falsified if not invented news," Francis said to a group of Catholic journalists.

  • Francis also called for compassion with individuals who have been misled by false information about the pandemic, and said that being informed by scientific data and accurate information is a human right.
  • "Fake news has to be refuted, but individual persons must always be respected, for they believe it often without full awareness or responsibility," he said.

The big picture: Francis, 85, has been an outspoken advocate for the COVID-19 vaccines, saying that "getting the vaccines that are authorized by the respective authorities is an act of love."

  • He also suggested this month that getting the vaccine was a "moral obligation," AP reports.

What he's saying: "Reality is always more complex than we think and we must respect the doubts, the concerns and the questions that people raise, seeking to accompany them without ever dismissing them," Francis said.

  • "To be properly informed, to be helped to understand situations based on scientific data and not fake news, is a human right," he said, according to the Washington Post.
  • "Correct information must be ensured above all to those who are less equipped, to the weakest and to those who are most vulnerable."

Go deeper: Pope Francis: Getting the COVID vaccine is "an act of love"

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