“Contributing, often unwittingly, to this climate is the sheer volume of allegedly ‘scientific’ information, comments and opinions, which ends up causing confusion for the reader or listener.”
The consortium includes Aleteia, I.Media, Verificat, and Our Sunday Visitor. It receives scientific consulting from the Barcelona-based Institute for Global Health. The group was awarded a grant in 2021 from the $3 million COVID-19 Vaccine Counter-Misinformation Open Fund sponsored by the Google News Initiative.
In a Jan. 20 post, Aleteia responded to reports about the project’s funding sources, saying that allegations that Aleteia had ties to George Soros or Bill Gates were “unfounded.”
“Aleteia has never solicited funds from either the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation or the Open Society Foundation. Aleteia accepted the Google grant only on the condition that we would maintain our editorial independence. As a result, the grant has not directed or influenced our editorial line,” it said.
In its most recent article — posted four months ago — catholic-factchecking.com provides “the opinion of the WHO and the FDA” in response to a question about an article claiming that nasal irrigation could reduce the number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19.
Another fact-checking entry posted in August 2021 states: “An article asserts that deaths from Covid-19 ‘are increasing’ in the United Kingdom, and that ‘the vast majority of the people who allegedly died from covid-19 had been vaccinated’. This is DECEITFUL.”
“Although the official data show that the majority of deaths recorded are of vaccinated people, this has nothing to do with an alleged ineffectiveness of the vaccine, but because Scotland has fully vaccinated 65.5% of the population, so it is to be expected that more and more of the deceased will be vaccinated (because there will be hardly any people who are not). This is because the efficacy of the vaccine against the most severe forms of the disease and death is never 100%.”
Some Catholic commentators have expressed skepticism about the phenomenon of fact-checking. Writing about the consortium on Jan. 14, Phil Lawler, the editor of Catholic World News, argued that fact-checking is a “practice in which self-appointed watchdogs claim to have refuted a statement, when in fact they have merely offered another opinion.”
The pope told the group that in its mission to combat disinformation and fake news, “the fundamental distinction between information and people must never be overlooked.”
He underlined that a Christian communicator should be a “builder of bridges” in the search for truth, rather than inciting conflict with “an attitude of superiority.”