Pope Francis says the first ever fake news was in this passage of the Bible

Pope Francis says the first ever fake news was in this passage of the Bible

If there's one phrase that could be used to sum up Donald Trump's presidency, it would certainly be "fake news". Everything the press says about him is - supposedly - fake news, everything he says about anyone else usually ends up being fake news, and, in one news interview, the former Apprentice host claims to have actually invented the term (which was, of course, fake news).

As we all know, though, fake news has been around for quite some time. Parody sites like The Onion pre-exist the Trump presidency by quite some time, and spoof shows such as The Day Today date back over 20 years.

However, according to the Pope, the first instance of fake news happened way more than a couple of decades ago.

In an official document titled, "The truth will set you free - fake news and journalism for peace", Pope Francis addresses the issues surrounding false reports and fabricated "facts" - but he never references Donald Trump or his administration directly.

"The tragedy of disinformation is that it discredits others, presenting them as enemies, to the point of demonising them and fomenting conflict," the document said. "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."

The pontiff then went on to say that the first case of fake news happened in the Garden of Eden, when Eve was tempted to take an apple from the garden following lies by the serpent. "The strategy of this skilled 'Father of Lies' is precisely mimicry, that sly and dangerous form of seduction that worms its way into the heart with false and alluring arguments," he said, alluding to the lies told by the devil.

pope francis Credit: Getty

In order to combat fake news, the head of the Catholic Church implored for reporters to produce journalism that is "truthful and opposed to falsehoods, rhetorical slogans, and sensational headlines."

The document was distributed at a time when people began to question exactly how much of an influence fake news had on Donald Trump's successful campaign. Indeed, shortly before the election took place in 2016, more than 140 sites were discovered to have deliberately created or shared fake news in order to drive traffic to their platform.

Though the news may have been generated with the simple intention to increase revenue, the stories that were posted may have had a serious effect on voters' decisions - especially as headlines such as "Pope Francis Shocks World, Endorses Donald Trump for President" and "FBI Agent Suspected in Hillary Email Leaks Found Dead in Apparent Murder-Suicide" were seen by hundreds of thousands of people.

American president Donald Trump. Credit: Getty

In a clarifying statement, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said: "The Pope is not saying that all journalists are snakes but he is certainly acknowledging that they can be."

And, while it's true that journalists have a responsibility to report the truth, the President has an even greater responsibility to recognize as being true, rather than dismissing anything that does not align with his agenda.