Vatican Accused Of Spreading Fake News A Month After Pope Denounced It As Evil

Vatican Accused Of Spreading Fake News A Month After Pope Denounced It As Evil Pope Francis prays during his general audience in St Peter’s square at the Vatican on October 5, 2016. / AFP / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo by VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

In a huge embarrassment for Pope Francis, the Vatican has been accused of selectively suppressing portions of a letter written by Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI. In that letter, Benedict had explained his refusal to write a commentary on a new book about Francis' theological and philosophical background.

The Vatican came under severe criticism for selectively quoting from the letter in a press release. It was also accused of digitally manipulating a photograph of it.

Benedict, who earned plaudits from the conservative Catholics during his papacy for his commitment to core doctrine, had declined to write a commentary as one of the authors involved in the book project had once launched "virulent," ''anti-papist" attacks against his teaching and that of St. John Paul II. In his letter, Benedict also expressed surprise that the Vatican had chosen this particular author.

Vatican's Secretariat for Communication was accused of spreading "fake news" for deliberately omitting key parts of Benedict's letter. Critics also charged him with digitally blurring a photograph of the document.

Ironically, Francis had given a clarion call in January 2018 to fight fake news and what he described as the distortion of information. Francis has regularly criticised journalists claiming that they present only half of the story.

“We need to unmask what could be called the ‘snake-tactics’ used by those who disguise themselves in order to strike at any time and place,” the Pope had said earlier this year in a written message during what was designated as World Day of Social Communications. Invoking a biblical reference, the Pope had argued that "crafty” serpent’s effective disinformation campaign to get Eve to eat from the tree of knowledge “began the tragic history of human sin. I would like to contribute to our shared commitment to stemming the spread of fake news," he had said.