Lourdes, France, January 25th, 2018 (Alphonse Tri Nguyen). “Fake news is baseless information that contributes to generating and nurturing a strong polarization of opinions. Fake news involves an often misleading distortion of facts, with possible repercussions at the level of individual and collective behavior." Prefect of the Secretariat in charge of the Holy See’s communication, Mons. Dario Edoardo Viganò addressed the Pope’s message in the Opening of the 22nd St. Francis de Sales Days.

“Fake news” has become a global issue which Pope Francis wants the Catholic Church, especially Catholic media professionals. to tackle. The pope’s message for the 2018 World Communications Day was the focus of a  three day convention Jan. 24- in Lourdes. For the past 22 years, more than 200 professional journalists of the French Catholic media and Church communications chiefs met for the Saint François de Sales Days.

This year, for the first time, this convention is co-organized by the Holy See’s Communication Office, the Federation of the Catholic Media and SIGNIS. “There are participants from 26 countries attending the convention this time. This will gather opinions with international dimension during this convention,” Jean-Marie Montel, president of the Federation of the Catholic Media, emphasized. Helen Osman, president of SIGNIS, added “With this diversity, we should have a rich and dynamic dialogue.”

In his welcoming remarks, Bishop Noclas Brouwet of Tarbes and Lourdes explained how a young girl named Bernadette become the model for the witness of the truth. “She was just a young girl who saw something amazing and told the truth about it. Hardly anyone believed her at first, and people even made life difficult for her and her family because of what she said she saw,” Bishop Nicolas said. But Bernadette never backed down, and the truth she told has helped millions of people, even people who live today.

Following Bishop Nicolas’ statement, the theme “Media & Truth” was presented by Francois Ernenwein, editor-in-chief at La Croix. He shared his experience of how a professional journalist should report the truth. “One must personally understand the issue and actual fact shall be reflected not only as the surface of it but also the deep root of matter,” Ernenwein said.

To close the first day of Saint Francis de Sales Days 2018, a roundtable discussion on the philosophical dimension of truth was held by experts and professors in the fields of theology and philosophy.

“There is no unanimous agreement neither about the nature of the concept, nor the way to think it through. There is no consensus as to the classic definition of truth, and even the ones who could agree on it, cannot agree upon its specification or its implications. Overall, the question” what does the truth mean?” is always open.”

The 22nd Saint Francis de Sales Days 2018 will continue for the next two days on different angles for discussion from theological dimension to political and economic dimension as well as workshops which allow participants to look deeper into the topic.