• Pope Francis Tells Reporters Not to “Stoke Fear” About Refugees

    According to Pope Francis, journalism based on gossip or rumors is a form of “terrorism” and a “weapon of destruction” of both people and nations.

    Speaking in Vatican City to a group of 400 journalists from Italy’s Italian National Council of the Order of Journalists, Francis urged journalists not to stoke fear regarding phenomena such as migration forced by war or hunger. According to Reuters, Francis stated that reporters had to go the extra mile to seek the truth, particularly in an age of round-the-clock news coverage.

     “I have often spoken of rumors as ‘terrorism,’ of how you can kill a person with the tongue,” Francis said. “This is even more true for journalists because their voice can reach everyone and this is a very powerful weapon.”


    Francis, who has often strongly defended the rights of refugees and migrants, said journalism should not be used as a:

    “weapon of destruction against persons and even entire peoples.”

    “Neither should it foment fear before events like forced migration from war or from hunger,” he said.

    “I understand that in today’s journalism, with an uninterrupted flux of facts and events told 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it’s not always easy to get to the truth, or even to get close to it,” Francis said.

    In previous comments on terrorism, Pope Francis has refused to use the term “Islamic violence” and has defended his avoidance of the term by suggesting that the potential for violence lies in every religion, including Catholicism. According to Crux Catholic News Service, on the papal plane on the way back from the World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland in July, the pope said that in every religion there are violent people, “a small group of fundamentalists,” including in Catholicism. “When fundamentalism goes as far as murdering … you can murder with your tongue and also with the knife,” he said.

    “I believe that it’s not fair to identify Islam with violence. It’s not fair and it’s not true,” he continued.

    The pope has made clear that the refugee crisis facing Europe, the Middle East and the Americas is the priority of his pontificate and has vowed to fight what he calls today’s “globalization of indifference.”

    Despite urging other countries to “reject the mindset of hostility” toward immigrants, the Vatican has not done much to accept its share of the millions of migrants flooding into Europe from the Middle East and North Africa. When Francis visited the Greek island of Lesbos in April, he brought back twelve Syrian refugees to Vatican City on the papal plane to show solidarity with the new arrivals.

    Twelve. From three Syrian families.

    Why only twelve refugees, you say? Well, the Vatican has some of the strictest immigration laws in the world and not just anyone can gain citizenship. Only about 450 of its 800 or so residents are actually citizens, according to a 2012 study by the Library of Congress.

    Migrants for the rest of us, but not for Vatican City. Walls for Vatican City, but not for other countries being flooded by violent migrants. A pontiff in solidarity with illegal immigrants and limitless refugees, except for when it comes to inviting them to his home. Starting to see a pattern here, aren’t we?

    Nothing to see here, folks. Don’t be alarmed by news reports of knifings, rapes, bombings, or violent attacks on police committed by some of the approximately 13 million Middle Eastern migrants who are overwhelmingly young, male, and Islamic.

    If you are concerned, you’re racist and Islamophobic, – and now, apparently, gossips and fear mongers, too.

    And for heaven’s sake, don’t report on it, journalists. Or you’ll be just as murderous as the real terrorists.

    Jane Parent

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