By Sister Regina Siegfried, ASC

References to “fake news” and “alternative facts” have littered real news and social media sites for months.

Where is truth? What is truth?

I have been pondering the oxymoron, “alternative facts,” ever since Kellyanne Conway dubbed the phrase in January on Meet the Press in her defense of the White House’s false statement about attendance numbers at Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Clarity eluded me until Ash Wednesday when I had the privilege of helping distribute ashes and saying to each person, “Repent and believe in the Gospel.”

From the perspective of a Catholic, “believe in the Gospel” is not fake news or an alternative fact. The message of the Christ is truth for us.   Last November, FactCheck.org offered the following tips for spotting fake news: http://www.factcheck.org/2016/11/how-to-spot-fake-news/

  • Consider the source of the “news”
  • Read beyond the headline
  • Check the author
  • What is the support for the claim?
  • Check the date
  • Consider whether what you’re reading is some kind of joke
  • Check your biases
  • Consult the experts

When Catholic Christians consider the source, we look to the Scriptures, which are true, but not necessarily to be taken literally.

We believe in the Gospel message and imperative that God’s reign is a new way of living, one that cares for the poor, the forgotten, and those tossed aside by some people in power.

The words of Scripture urge us to change unjust systems and to be a compassionate presence to all creation. This is not some kind of joke; nor is it fake news or an alternative fact.

The Gospel message calls us to be biased in favor of the poor. “The last shall be first.”

We advocate for immigrants and refugees because the truth of the Gospel impels us to stand with them in their struggles.

The focus of the day’s news may change, but we stay with those whose struggles remain even if a round of other news stories bumps them in priority.

We are in the Gospel message for the long haul, not a single news cycle.

We believe in the Gospel way of life.