Fake news had been making the rounds in social media sites claiming that New Zealand bishops have endorsed a political party.
In an email sent out this morning, New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference communications adviser David McLoughlin alerted people to “false materials appearing on-line” which have been posted by a conservative blogger.
The blog was based on a supposed “press release” from the bishops, and allegedly quoted a spokesperson for the bishops.
Mr McLoughlin said the actual bishops’ election statement is yet to be released.
“Everything in that blog post and similar material is false, including its claim that the bishops have issued a statement supporting the [party]. The post also purports to quote [a person]. This is also false. [This person] has made no such statement anywhere, and the first [this person] knew of the claim was when I sent . . . the link earlier this morning,” he said.
In the same email, he said he wrote to the blogger and the party telling them that the claims “are false, defamatory and extremely damaging to the reputation of the Bishops; and requesting it be retracted immediately”.
The blog appears to have been retracted but not before it was circulated in private Facebook groups.
“If you are asked about this matter by anyone, please feel free to assure them that the material is false and untrue,” Mr McLoughlin said.