Pope Francis has said that journalism based on rumors or gossip is a form of terrorism and media that stereotype against entire populations or foment fear of migrants are acting destructively.

The pontiff made the remarks in an address to leaders of Italy's national journalists' guild.

He said that reporters had to go the extra mile to seek the truth, particularly in this age which is round-the-clock news coverage.

"Spreading rumors is an example of terrorism, of how you can kill a person with your tongue," the pope said.

"This is even more true for journalists because their voice can reach everyone and this is a very powerful weapon," he added.

Pope Francis, who is a proponent of the rights of refugees and migrants, said that journalism should not be used as a weapon of destruction against individuals or even entire populations.

He then went on to say, "Neither should it foment fear before events like forced migration from war or from hunger."

Last year, a right-wing Italian newspaper named Libero reported the incident of the Paris attacks that killed about 130 people using the headline: "Islamic Bastards".

Another Italian newspaper, Il Giornale, reported a story last year on the catastrophic situation in Libya and the risk of militants entering Italy. The newspaper headlined: "ISIS is coming. Let's arm ourselves".