KUALA LUMPUR:- The Holy Father (Pope Francis) reminds us that all of us are Communicators. "Even if you are seating and thinking, you are communicating to yourself".(Image)
Fr Edwin Peter, the parish priest of the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus said this at the Sunset Mass on May 12, 2018. He mentioned the truth will set you free. The Catholic Church is marking its World Communication Day, on Sunday, May 13, on the theme, “‘The truth will set you free’ (John 8:32). Fake news and journalism for peace”. This is the theme of the message of Pope Francis for this year’s observance.
In his message, Pope Francis warned of the “dire consequences” of disinformation spread through fake news, that is fueled by “greed” and the “thirst for power,” and thrives on the absence of a “healthy confrontation” necessary for “constructive dialogue.” In today’s rapidly evolving world of communications, the Pope asked those working in the media to “promote a journalism of peace” that is truthful and helps to form others, but which is not harmful or sentimental, overlooking serious problems.
The annual day was established by Pope Paul VI in 1967 to encourage Catholics to reflect on the opportunities and challenges that the modern means of social communication offer the Church to communicate the Gospel message.
World Communications Day is celebrated in most countries in the Universal Church, on the Sunday (7th Sunday of Easter) before Pentecost Sunday.
Fr Edwin went on to say communication is part and parcel of God's plan for us, and an essential way to experience fellowship.
In terms of news communicated throughout the world is source of knowledge. We receive our news, for example , he quoted in the USA 20% of the people received the news from CNN, and the rest from other sources. "As for Malaysians, we have been communicating through WhatsApp a lot; truth or not truth". Fr Edwin gave an example about a recent incident concerning a priest fallen serious ill. Some send inaccurate news through WhatsApp; this, he said is fake news.
"Fake news all around us. In the past we have the news, the press (media) and broadcast media controlled. It's revolution on communications,from the past and now present, more and more people are using social media, like WhatsApp, etc; the arrival of the Internet". Yet, according to Fr Edwin, there are so many news, we need to verify if true or not, and from what sources, reliability, credibility,etc.
Another interesting point that Fr Edwin made was many only thought fake news is only now, but the diocesan priest said it has been there long ago, since the time of Adam and Eve. The Satan in form of a serpent (snake) seduced Eve, saying, "You surely will not die!. For God does know that in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil". This is fake news, said Fr Edwin, who clarifies that Satan seduces Eve who gave the apple to Adam to eat.
Then going forward, Fr Edwin said after the recent 14th General Elections, lots of fake news about this and that seem to be going round. He said our country is the 2nd nation in the world to have the Anti Fake News Bill, with hefty penalties. Yet, the parish priest told the assembly all of us need to improve our communications.
"We need to improve our communication, as about 70% of what we communicate, our communication efforts are either misunderstood, misinterpreted, not heard,etc". Fr Edwin said we face this challenges, not just fake news but distortion of news.Sometimes we can't heard properly, we misunderstood.
Fake news is about twisting the truth. Objective truth , subjective truth. Truth is not just objective or subjective, but is relative.
He also mentioned what's the motive of those spreading fake news?. When people spread fake news, they want you to think this way and not that way. He gave an example of a beer advertisement, there appears a women which nothing to do with the product. Fake news got that direction it wants you to think, behave this way and act this way.
Fr Edwin quoted Pope Francis who said fake news is distorting; snake tactic. "A snake deceives us to do this and that". Fr Edwin also said fake news often goes viral on the Internet." Pope Francis tells us, we need to be aware of the danger of fake news.
"When you propagate fake news, you lie to yourself", said Fr Edwin, who added that fake news is a sign of intolerance.
How to spot fake news.? The parish priest told his parishioners to check and see. Consider the source, whether it is a reliable one or not and to read beyond. Just like the Scriptures. You don't take one word or two and misinterpret, but instead to take the whole sentence.
In ending, Fr Edwin invited all to pray the Pope Francis' Prayer For Countering "Fake News".