Pope Francis said today that spreading false news and trying to smear politicians was “probably the greatest damage that the media can do.”
Using exceptionally strong language, he used the word “coprophilia”, which means arousal from excrement, and “coprophagia” (eating excrement) to describe scandal-mongering media and its consumers.
“I think the media have to be very clear, very transparent, and not fall into—no offence intended—the sickness of coprophilia, that is, always wanting to cover scandals, covering nasty things, even if they are true,” Francis told a Belgian Catholic magazine.
Readers have a tendency toward the consumption of bad information, or coprophagia, he added.
This is not the first time he’s used the feces analogy to warn journalists about the dissemination of negative news. In 2013, he told a reporter from Italian newspaper La Stampa:
“Journalists sometimes risk becoming ill from coprophilia and thus fomenting coprophagia, which is a sin that taints all men and women—that is, the tendency to focus on the negative rather than the positive aspects.”
The pontiff himself was the subject of a fake news story during the US presidential election, when phony online news outlets reported that he had endorsed Donald Trump.
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