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Pope Defends Free Press in Tribute to Killed Journalists


Pope Francis speaks during Regina Caeli prayer, in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican, May 1, 2022. (Vatican Media/­Handout via Reuters)

Pope Francis on Sunday paid tribute to journalists who have died or been jailed in the line of duty, defending a free press and praising those in the media who courageously report on "humanity's wounds."

Speaking to thousands in St. Peter's Square for his weekly address and blessing, Francis noted that May 3 will be the United Nations World Press Freedom Day.

"I render homage to journalists who pay in person for this right," he said, citing statistics that 47 journalists were killed and more than 350 jailed last year.

That is a lower number than tabulated by UNESCO, the U.N. organization that sponsors World Press Freedom Day, which said earlier this year that 55 journalists and media workers were killed in 2021.

"A special thanks to those who, with courage, keep us informed about humanity's wounds," the pope said.

Faithful attend the Regina Caeli prayer led by Pope Francis, in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican, May 1, 2022. (Vatican Media/­Handout via Reuters)
Faithful attend the Regina Caeli prayer led by Pope Francis, in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican, May 1, 2022. (Vatican Media/­Handout via Reuters)

Last month, Francis honored journalists killed while covering the Russia-Ukraine war, saying he hoped God would reward them for serving the common good.

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

Reporters Without Borders, which is based in Paris, says it has documented a number of attacks directly targeting journalists wearing "Press" arm bands in Ukraine.

Vira Hyrych, a producer for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), was killed when a Russian airstrike hit her apartment building in Kyiv on April 28.

RFE/RL is a Russian and Ukrainian language network of the taxpayer-funded U.S. Agency for Global Media, which includes Voice of America.

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