Pope Francis cast "fake news" in theological terms on Wednesday, suggesting that it was responsible for Adam and Eve's original sin in the Garden of Eden.
Francis made his remarks in an effort to "combat fake news" and rediscover "the dignity of journalism and the personal responsibility of journalists to communicate the truth," The New York Daily News reported.
Francis said that spreading fake news "risks turning people into unwilling accomplices in spreading biased and baseless ideas ... fake news is a sign of intolerant and hypersensitive attitudes, and leads only to the spread of arrogance and hatred. That is the end result of untruth."
"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," Francis continued, making reference to the story of Adam and Eve in the Old Testament of the Bible.
"This was the strategy employed by the 'crafty serpent' in the Book of Genesis, who, at the dawn of humanity, created the first fake news which began the tragic history of human sin," Francis said. "By listening to the deceiver and letting herself be taken in by his version of the facts, the woman is misled."
Francis' description of Eve's role in the Fall is notably passive; her sin is "listening" to the serpent and "letting herself" be misled. But the Pope also had much to say on personal responsibility, particularly for journalists.
"If responsibility is the answer to the spread of fake news, then a weighty responsibility rests on the shoulders of those whose job is to provide information, namely, journalists, the protectors of news," Francis said. "In today’s world, theirs is, in every sense, not just a job, it is a mission."