Jesus Christ was the first 'fake news' target, says Pope Francis

Pope Francis started a busy Holy Week on Palm Sunday with a homily citing Jesus Christ as the first victim of "fake news." The pontiff addressed his message to the youth and stated that a better way to handle a "spin" in today's media is to remember Christ's image on the cross and never be silenced about their faith.

(Reuters/Tony Gentile)Pope Francis tells the youth Jesus also dealt with fake news and ridicule.

The pope told the crowd during his homily that when Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, he experienced slander and received derogatory remarks. As his fame increased, people at that time made up stories about him as a criminal.

"It is the cry born of the show of self-sufficiency, pride and arrogance, which sees no problem in shouting: 'Crucify him, crucify him'," the pope said. "Faced with such people, the best remedy is to look at Christ's cross and let ourselves be challenged by his final cry," he added.

The pope stated that Jesus' response against fake news peddlers should inspire the youth to speak up with conviction for what they believe. Like Jesus, they could "anger and irritate" other people, especially the elders, but he reminded the youth that, "a joyful young person is hard to manipulate."

Pope Francis' message to the youth comes after nearly a million young people in the U.S. joined the "March for Our Lives" rally in Washington, D.C. to push lawmakers to sign effective gun control laws and finally stop school mass shootings. Earlier this month, students in the U.S. also walked out of their classes for the same protest. The rage sparked after 17 students died in a school mass shooting in Parkland, Florida on Valentine's Day.

Meanwhile, the pontiff welcomed some 300 Catholic youngsters in the Vatican this week. They presented documents on issues concerning the youth, which will be tackled in the Synods of Bishops that will take place October. The pope also announced that the Church's annual World Youth Day would take place in Panama in January 2019.