Philippine bishops' conference chief hit by 'fake news'

No truth to report on social media telling priests, nuns to shun politicians, church official says
Philippine bishops' conference chief hit by 'fake news'

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte listens as Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, addresses families of victims of a fire in December. (Photo courtesy of the Presidential Communications Office)

The president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines has fallen victim to "fake news," according to the organization's secretary-general.

An online post, which circulated on social media this week, quoted Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao warning priests and nuns "not to interact with politicians."

"We must not let ourselves be involved in one particular group or individual, but rather be sensible to the real issues," the bishop was quoted as saying

Father Marvin Mejia, secretary-general of the bishops' conference, said there was no truth to the report being circulated on Facebook and other social media sites.

The priest said Archbishop Valles denied making the statement.

"There is no truth to the post," said Father Mejia, adding that the prelate's latest statements were about Lent and Easter.

The fake news story warned that some priests and nuns who have shown their political partisanship "only divide our nation, instead of uniting it."

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila has earlier lamented the spread of so-called fake news, describing it as a "manipulative strategy" to serve political interests.

"Manipulation thrives in the context of disrespect," said the prelate during the Chrism Mass at the Manila Cathedral on Holy Thursday.

"That's why fake news proliferates … deliberately deceiving people," he said, adding that modern means of communication have been reduced to strategies to manipulate people.

"Let us put a stop to fake news," said Cardinal Tagle. "We are not called and consecrated to bring fake news, only Good News especially through the integrity of our lives," he said.

During an Easter Recollection on April 8, the cardinal challenged the media to report on what is good. He said evangelization challenges the faithful to communicate the truth about God's love.

The Manila prelate said proclaiming the Gospel requires "attentiveness" to the human condition, specifically to the poor and those who are suffering.

He also stressed the importance of integrity among the bearers of the Good News, adding that it is to be proclaimed not only through words, but by deeds.

"That's why many people don't listen to the Good News because they don't see it from the one talking," said Cardinal Tagle.

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