Pope defends media freedom and pays tribute to slain journalists

Pope Francis salutes during the Regina Caeli Prayer, in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, May 1, 2022. Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS

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VATICAN CITY, May 1 (Reuters) – Pope Francis on Sunday paid tribute to journalists who have died or been imprisoned in the line of duty, defending a free press and praising those in the media who bravely report the “wounds of the ‘humanity”.

Addressing thousands in St. Peter’s Square for his weekly address and blessing, Francis noted that May 3 would be United Nations World Press Freedom Day.

“I pay tribute to journalists who pay in person for this right,” he said, citing statistics that 47 journalists were killed and more than 350 imprisoned last year.

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He gave the source of the statistics. UNESCO, the United Nations organization that sponsors World Press Freedom Day, said earlier this year that 55 journalists and media workers had been killed in 2021.

“Special thanks to those who courageously keep us informed of the wounds of humanity,” the pope said.

Last month, Francis honored slain journalists covering the Russian-Ukrainian war, saying he hoped God would reward them for serving the common good. Read more

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists says it has confirmed that at least seven journalists died while covering the war in Ukraine and is investigating whether others were killed as a result of their work.

Reporters Without Borders, based in Paris, claims to have documented a number of attacks directly targeting journalists wearing “Presse” armbands in Ukraine.

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Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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