Pope denounces governments that use media to defame critics

Pope Francis checks his watch as he arrives for the weekly general audience in St.Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Gr

Pope Francis checks his watch as he arrives for the weekly general audience in St.Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Gr

Pope Francis holds his skull cap as he arrives for his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018. (AP Phot

Pope Francis holds his skull cap as he arrives for his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018. (AP Phot

Pope Francis walks with Danish Crown Prince Frederik, left, and his wife Crown Princess Mary, on the occasion of their private audience, at the Vatica

Pope Francis walks with Danish Crown Prince Frederik, left, and his wife Crown Princess Mary, on the occasion of their private audience, at the Vatica

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis is denouncing the way some governments seek to discredit their critics through "whisper" campaigns, using the media to defame anyone who represents a threat.

During his morning homily Thursday, Francis said such slander campaigns can infect relations in families, parishes and dioceses, as well as global politics.

He said the damage done by the "sin of whispering" is particularly grave in politics "when a government isn't honest and seeks to sling mud at its adversaries with whispers, defamation, calumny."

Francis didn't single out any country, but said dictatorial governments are known for taking control of the media to "diminish anyone who represents a threat."

Francis this year is dedicating his annual peace message to urging greater responsibility in politics.