Spam and phishing are undoubtedly irksome, but among the noisome phenomena introduced by the internet, none annoys me quite so much as “fact-checking”—the practice in which self-appointed watchdogs claim to have refuted a statement, when in fact they have merely offered another opinion. Sad to say, “fact-checking” has invaded the Catholic corner of cyberspace.
In a new initiative, Catholic-factchecking.com, an international coalition of Catholic media outlets and secular agencies has formed to check facts. But not just any facts. Catholic-factchecking (CFC) has a very specific purpose. The group announces:
In order to help to clarify fake news and misleading information about vaccines against COVID-19, an international consortium of Catholic media, news agencies and world-renowned scientists is being founded.
The CFC coalition was founded by Aleteia, “a worldwide Catholic information network in seven languages,” and I.Media, “a news agency that specializes in information from the Vatican.” Both are respected media outlets, with a history of solid reporting. They are joined by several other prominent Catholic media partners from around the world; American readers will readily recognize the name of Our Sunday Visitor among them.
Now you might ask: With so much misinformation about the Catholic faith in circulation, why would a Catholic fact-checking venture focus exclusively on Covid vaccines? Part of the answer to that question no doubt lies in genuine conviction that the Covid epidemic trumps all other concerns, and vaccination is the only effective response. The editorial board of Our Sunday Visitor is on record as saying: “Today’s truth is simple: The COVID-19 vaccine is a gift.”
But another reason for the exclusive focus on vaccination is, beyond question, the source of funding for this initiative. CFC has joined in an international campaign driven by such formidable secular powers as Google, the Gates Foundation, and the Open Society Foundation of George Soros.
A one-sided presentation
In introducing its services, CFC promises: “The members of the platform do not offer polarized information for or against the different vaccines.” That is simply not true. The site offers a steady diet of support for vaccines, with never a nod to the public-health experts who question the effectiveness and/or the safety of the vaccination campaign. CFC “experts” patiently explain why there is no plausible moral objection to the Covid vaccines; the site provides no room for the moral theologians who disagree.
Typical of the CFC approach is a piece by Father Alberto Carrara, announcing: “All pediatric scientific communities are in favor of vaccination against Covid in the age group 5-11 years.” There are certainly supporters of vaccination for young people. But to suggest that all scientific experts favor that step—when young people face minimal danger from the disease—is blatantly irresponsible.
Another article on the site takes issue with the claim that naturally-induced immunity is “a billion times more effective” than vaccination. “This is FALSE,” the post warns us. Well, yes; “a billion times more effective” is obviously a rhetorical gesture rather than a scientific claim. But honest scientists recognize today that natural immunity (acquired by those who have had the disease) is more effective than the vaccines—as the tens of thousands of “breakthrough cases” among vaccinated people demonstrate.
Although CFC piously warns against “polarized information,” that is what the site conveys. LifeSite News—which is, no doubt, one of the “polarized” sources which CFC hopes to thwart—is more accurate in its critique of the new platform: “The consortium defends the use of abortion-tainted COVID jabs, attacks natural immunity, and criticizes the concept of seeking a religious exemption to jab mandates.”
Both Aleteia and I.Media, the two Catholic outlets involved in founding CFC, are the offspring of an enormous French Catholic publishing conglomerate, Media-Participations, which boasts over $600 million in annual revenues. But Media-Participations was not the only source of start-up funding for the venture. CFC was one of several projects sponsored by Google, through its $3-million “Covid-19 Vaccine Counter-Misinformation Open Fund.”
Aleteia had already secured a promotional partnership with Google, dating back to 2013. Now the CFC consortium, as part of Google’s project, joined in another partnership with the Institute for Global Health in Barcelona, a group that has drawn over $50 million in grants from the Gates Foundation, as well as six-figure donations from the Open Society Foundation.
Oddly enough, despite its impressive backing, the CFC has generated sparse content and attracted little notice. The site features articles from Verifact (a “fact-checking group), from I.Media, and from “other sources.” Most of the material currently displayed on the CFC site is already outdated, having been posted last September. Google announced the CFC project in March 2021; the initiative only came to the attention of other Catholic media outlets in January 2022.
Quite possibly the CFC has not made headway because there is no room on the market for another “fact-checking” service. Anyone who logs onto a search engine will immediately discover the same sort of propaganda that CFC provides. When every major media outlet is pounding out the drumbeat of incessant and unquestioning support for the vaccination campaign, perhaps there is no great demand for a “Catholic” version of the same fare. Who checks the fact-checkers?
If the marketplace of the internet has proven unreceptive to CFC initiative, there is precedent for the flop. Recall that while Mother Angelica was building a broadcasting juggernaut at EWTN, the Catholic bishops of the US were nervously working to set up a competitor. The bishops’ efforts failed; there is nothing left to bear witness to the many hours of discussion (not to mention millions of dollars) they invested in their stillborn venture.
Just just last year Bishop Robert Barron floated a proposal for “yellow-check” system whereby the bishops, or their appointed “fact-checkers” could certify that an internet outlet was faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Although the dangers of Bishop Barron’s proposal should be immediately evident, I took the time to explain why “Our Bishops Cannot Be Trusted with a Yellow-Check System.” Any internet outlet looking for the bishops’ stamp of approval would be under pressure to humor the bishops’ preferences on matters that do not involve the content of Catholic doctrine. They would be tempted to soft-pedal stories of corruption, for example. Remember how slow the “official” Catholic media outlets were to report on the sex-abuse scandal?
Or look at the track record of institutions that the American bishops have been asked to supervise. Thirty-two years have passed, and a generation of college students has come and gone, since Pope John Paul II issued Ex Corde Ecclesiae, charging bishops with the responsibility for ensuring that Church-run colleges and universities were authentically Catholic in their teaching and their campus life. Most still aren’t.
When Father James Martin can win the endorsement of ranking prelates for his favorable treatment of homosexuality, both readers and editors should be wary of any initiative that relies on bishops’ endorsements. But the CFC initiative goes beyond Bishop Barron’s proposal, enlisting the help of secular censors to patrol the Catholic media.
Just yesterday that Catholic world celebrated the feast of St. Hilary of Poitier, and we heard once again how the “Athanasius of the West” chastised Catholic leaders who courted the favor of worldly powers: “The Church seeks for secular support, and in so doing insults Christ by the implication that His support is insufficient.” Surely that scolding applies to Catholic publishers who make common cause with Google, and help the media giant shrink the boundaries of accepted public discussion.
The above comes from a Jan. 14 posting by Phil Lawler on CatholicCulture.org.
There are two problems with COVID discussions in general, including on Catholic websites. One is that there are any number of people on YouTube or their own personal websites, who often call themselves experts or even scientists and doctors, who say things that are either misleading or demonstrably false. They say those things because of some personal bias or in some cases, purely out of a crass desire to make money through clicks and views.Say something controversial in a headline, people click on it, they get $$, and their readers think they are reading objective truth.
The other problem is that people who write articles or comments, and the editors who permit them, are often not familiar with the basic science underlying the subjects about which they talk, or offer illogical conclusions based on what they think they know. They may not use their critical thinking skills when evaluating an emotional topic as this one. Mix that up with the first problem, and you see almost anything being written on these pages and others. Occasionally, they don’t know what they themselves have written and so when it is contradicted, they accuse others of twisting their words. In other situations, people literally do twist the words of people they disagree with, or dispute the facts presented with little or no evidence to back up their false “facts”. They just say things like “there are fetal cells in COVID vaccines”, and think that because they can type it, it must be true.
This claim, for example, that some of the vaccines contain fetal cells is just simply, objectively, verifiably untrue. But if the person doesn’t understand what a cell is, how cells are used to make vaccines, how the vaccines are purified before being put into the vial, you get these kinds of untrue statements. The person making the claim probably is very well intentioned. They may have even read somewhere that there are cells or body parts in the vaccines. But who knows where they got those misstatements, and often their sources are those biased ones we’ve seen elsewhere.
I’m not talking here about opinions. I may have an opinion about whether the vaccines are right for me. But people who say that this vaccine or that one have been rejected by the Vatican, for example, aren’t offering their own opinion, they are not stating correctly what the Vatican has put out. They are simply, objectively, verifyably stating an incorrect fact.
I’ve been called a liar as recently as this week when I pointed out factual errors being spread on this website. So I think some humility and willingness to be corrected rather than lashing out and bearing false witness could go a long way towards building up the Body of Christ.
YFI, excellent and well-reasoned piece. You’ve responded in a tempered way to shrill criticism which often mis-states the facts.
To any who claim they must refuse the Pfizer or Moderna vaccinations [and boosters] because taking them involves co-operation in the abominable sin of abortion, I would respond thus. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was specifically mandated to consider that question by the Holy Father. In a written response, that Congregation held that any cooperation with evil in Pfizer’s and Moderna’s use of one cell line from a fetus aborted 70 years ago in testing the vaccine did not constitute “formal” co-operation with the evil of abortion. It was at most merely material cooperation . [Neither vaccine contained any aborted fetal cells.] And the material cooperation was sufficiently remote to render these vaccines moral and licit.
Many posters here may reply: what’s all this gibberish about formal co-operation, material co-operation and remote material cooperation? Isn’t it just a way to confuse a clear issue in order to explain away sin? No, it’s the rigorous method of Catholic moral theology.
The CDF also states that therefore where there is grave reason, using these injections is morally acceptable. For 99.7% of people there is no grave reason. While it is not surprising that the current stewards of the Church, including the one who identifies as Francis, follows the World in nearly every one of its latest fads, it continues to harm the body of Christ while teaching the pharmaceutical companies nothing as they have no reason now to produce products with no connection to abortion.
You wrote about 1 1/2 years ago that the pneumonia vaccine does not help against COVID when I told you it did. Kaiser research and others now say that those who took the Pneumoccocal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV 13) seem to be less likely to get COVID, have a lesser chance of getting serious conditions from it and of dying. Just taking the (PCV 23) is not as likely to be effect against COVID. My doctor had me take both PCV13 and PCV 23 before the COVID vaccines, and has approved my taking of Zinc, Vitamin C, D and other vitamins. I am not taking the blood clotting COVID vaccines.
Well, Anne, I sincerely hope you do not get COVID and suffer the consequences of consuming mass quantities of misinformation.
“Misinformation” is the liberal way of saying “shut up”. Only certain streams of thought and speech are acceptable to biased so-called “Fact checkers”.
Exactly! YFC has just smeared the Kaiser Permanente research report, too, and Kaiser is not known to be very conservative. Next they will be taking it down and saying the others that report the same thing are fake news. I printed it out.
I never smeared Kaiser. I never even mentioned Kaiser, or even the study. Please don’t mischaracterize my posts Anne
I do not think that is correct. Remember nobody knows that much about any of this.
Why do you get so threatened by this stuff?
If you are insecure in your decision not to get the vaccine, you can always re-visit it.
There is always new information.
Unfortunately, as more people get sick and die from it ( or from a vaccine) they learn more.
From your post, I am sure you included the Kaiser research report in you “mass quantities of misinformation”, otherwise you would have excluded Kaiser as I mentioned them specifically.
Maybe you shouldn’t be so sure of yourself, and try a little humility. I wrote my comment. I know what my comment meant, and if I tell you that my comment didn’t smear or even talk about Kaiser, I should know what I am talking about.
Another problem is that we’re now learning that Fauci and the government have lied to all of us about the origins of the virus and effective treatments. What were once censured and censored as crank conspiracy theories are now revealed to have been facts. So don’t lecture me about getting jabbed as an act of selflessness. Don’t lecture me about lockdowns and mask wearing. Don’t lecture me about government mandates. They’re all liars. And we have proof of that now. Two weeks to flatten the curve. Here we are now with the highest case numbers ever, despite all the totalitarian measures to control the virus. And it’s just a flu. Don’t give them control. Don’t trust them. They engineered it all to deny Trump reelection, and now they are trying to make it so they can cheat to win every future election.
Sure they did. They lied and people died. The unvaccinated and unmasked, mostly. You know, the ones who claimed Fauci lied.
The obese died, mainly.
Oh and we care less about the obese? Their lives are less valuable than the young the svelte and the beautiful?
You made comments in the past about C.K. Chesterton’s obesity when some were considering him for sainthood, as if he was not suitable for sainthood because of his obesity. I remember.
All the other poster was saying is that obesity does not help the immune system, and such people are more apt to die from COVID.
I have never made comments about Chestertons obesity. You must be thinking of somebody else. I’m sure you wouldn’t make things up.
So much data is coming out. Australia, with a 95% vaccination rate and draconian lockdown measures, is experiencing extremely high Omicron cases and death rates. They had one day of 175,000 cases, which, comparing their population to that of the US would be comparable to 2.1 million cases in the US. Reasons supporting this high number of cases are that there is no natural immunity and the vaccines (not vaccine) lower immunity and thus make people more susceptible.
Australia is less than 80% fully vaccinated. Secondly, nobody ever said the vaccines prevent infection. It is true that omicron is at least ten times more transmissible than the original virus, which is why you see such high numbers in both the US and Australia. The vaccines do not lower immunity that is simple BS.
Some people cannot tell fact from opinion.
To be clear, I think the factual errors spread on this website were in the comment section.
Correct me if I’m wrong.
Mostly, yes, but the editors of CCD edit the comment section. Ironically, they actually edit comments more than they edit their own content which they almost always lift in its entirety from other copyrighted sources.
One of the downsides of an information-laden internet system, widely available to multitudes of people around the world is that too much of what presents itself as fact isn’t. Just as serious is the inability of most of us to tell the difference between true information and untrue information deliberately placed to create havoc. Much of the non-true information is placed by enemy governments simply trying to create consternation among the populace. We see a lot of that at election time. The covid vaccine, unlike any other vaccine that I can remember, has become, and is, a political issue for many rather than a public health issue. I’m not sure why. The polio vaccine wasn’t political. People lined up to get the vaccine because they knew the horror of the illness, iron lungs and all. We know the horror of this virus – 850,000 deaths in the U.S., 5.5 million worldwide. We can say that people are going to die anyway, but covid can speed it up. We can say that it is mostly old people that really suffer, but ours is not to wish them a speedy trip to Valhalla. We can say that only a few kids really get sick from the virus, but who wants their young son or daughter, niece or nephew, grandson or granddaughter to die an early death? We can say that we each have the right to decide on our own if we should take the vaccine. That is true, but who wants to make the decision not to put an end to the pandemic, or to willfully infect others. Somewhere along the way, we may have forgotten our duty to our fellows.
One example: the numerous disinformation campaigns and fake information against the Novus Ordo Mass, such as felt banners, giant puppets and women in leotards. We all know what I mean.
Pope Francis will. He’s the Pope, after all.
All this talk of censorship makes me think of Hitler.
All news is filtered. All Catholic news is filtered. There is only so much time, so much space. Someone has to make a decision bout how it will be filled.
The opposite is also true. News can be “fleshed out” to meet the time and space minimum. Sometimes the news is small so the rest of the story is speculation or rehashing of old news.
If all the news was just telling you what happened (who what where how and when) without the authors or editors speculating about why (and never having to prove it and never having to admit they were wrong), we would all be better off.
I knew someone who subscribed to a news magazine and they got behind in their reading. When they were going through the back issues, they could see how wrong all the speculation was.
A lot of truth there cd. I remember when most of the news was news. When they offered analysis, commentary, and opinion, it was labeled as such. Then came 24 hour news and it all got jumbled, and what are called news channels don’t really have that much news on them, whether it’s FOX, CNN, MSNBC etc. I hate the current state of TV news. Newspapers do a better job of separating reporting from analysis and opinion but when confronted with just the facts, people call it “fake news”.
I there can be fake news because when Trump won the Presidency, one of the newscasters said “We are going to spend the next 4 years making sure this does not happen again.”
Next election, with a close race, there had been so much bias in the news that people could not trust the results. It was reported that even 30% of Democrats thought the election results were wrong. The media made it look that way.
The media lost the confidence of Americans by their own behavior.
The news media, biased or not, do not count the votes and determine the winner. Local canvassing boards and boards of elections and Secretaries of State do that, each independently constructed and made up of Democrats, independents, and Republicans. Don’t believe the Trump is the loser because the media says it’s so. Believe it because those dedicated people made sure it was a fair election.
The fact that Catholic media are heavily funded by Bill Gates and George Soros tells me all I need to know. These globalists already have the market cornered in the secular media and now have their sights set on the Catholic world to further purposefully muddy the waters. The articles that I am coming across that denigrate any person who chooses to not have a vaccine are becoming more prevalent. This is truly a battle of Principalities and those who will not allow their informed consciences to be coerced will be marginalized and perhaps even martyred as this tyranny barrels down the global road. God help us.
FYI: the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association are Leftist organizations.
I looked up what you were talking about and you are completely misrepresenting it. Maybe you just did not understand what you heard or read.
I actually feel really sorry for you and people who believe this bunk.
You are not a martyr if you die rather than violate your conscience. Only if you die for the Faith.
Catholic media are not funded by George Soros and Bill Gates.