Pope slams fake news about covid and vaccines

News in Italy: Pontiff says being properly informed is a human right.

Pope Francis has hit out against the spreading of fake news and disinformation about covid-19 and vaccines, including by Catholic media, warning that the pandemic has sparked an "infodemic".

The pope made his remarks at a meeting with representatives of the Catholic FactChecking website, a consortium of Catholic media outlets whose stated aim is to "clarify fake news and misleading information" about covid vaccines, Reuters reports.

The pontiff said that "being properly informed, being helped to understand based on scientific data and not fake news, is a human right", reports the Italian bishops' newspaper Avvenire.

Pope Francis condemned the spread of an "infodemic" which he said was a "distortion of reality based on fear" that leads to "falsified if not invented news."

The pope added: "Correct information must be ensured above all to those who are less equipped, to the weakest and to those who are most vulnerable," according to the National Catholic Reporter.

The pope has in the past urged people to get vaccinated against covid-19, describing the vaccination as an "act of love", and has called for equitable distribution and rapid access to vaccines, particularly in the poorest areas of the world.

In January 2021 the pope said it was an "ethical duty" to get vaccinated, describing opposition to the covid vaccine as a "suicidal denial that I cannot explain."

The pope's support for covid-19 vaccines has seen him come under attack from ultra-conservative Catholic websites.

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