Mideast PopeThere are lots of quotes running around from Pope Francis, which cause fulminations on Facebook, or other places. Now what Francis actually says is troubling enough, but too often, and perhaps because of his unprepared speeches where he confuses people, it is more believable when hoaxes appear as though they were what he had said. Let’s take this one which I have seen in various places:

“Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Jehovah, Allah. These are all names employed to describe an entity that is distinctly the same across the world. For centuries, blood has been needlessly shed because of the desire to segregate our faiths. This, however, should be the very concept which unites us as people, as nations, and as a world bound by faith. Together, we can bring about an unprecedented age of peace, all we need to achieve such a state is respect each others beliefs, for we are all children of God regardless of the name we choose to address him by. We can accomplish miraculous things in the world by merging our faiths, and the time for such a movement is now. No longer shall we slaughter our neighbors over differences in reference to their God.” (Source)
This looks very bad, and would rightly be called a heresy. But did Francis actually say that? Those who have read this website know that I do not spare criticism of the Pope when it is due, but I also refuse to be duped into hoaxes meant to confuse the faithful. Now let’s look at some principles.
Firstly, if Francis gives a statement, whether prepared or not, it can be found on the Vatican Information Service, or the Holy See Press Office. If you know Italian, that is very useful. Many times it is the case that everything is there in Italian, while not in English. The problem present when a quote is given in English is that you have to try and divine the original Italian to search for keywords and sadly, the Vatican website is not terribly searchable by search engine. Nevertheless a search for the first line on the English language version reveals nothing. So, if we are to put in the Italian, Gesù Cristo, Maometto, Geova, Allah, we again, get nothing.
Then we can look to the Holy See Press Office. Can we find this speech? Now your investigative and critical reasoning skills come into play. In the original article, no date is given for this speech, whether it was given as an Angelus address, a homily at Mass, an airplane press conference (the dreaded presso in aero), or any other format. So a search on Startpage (don’t use Google and its spy apparatus, just because the Patriot act has expired, Deo Gratias, it does not mean they are not still collecting!) reveals a number of website bearing this quote, either for or against. Yet, each and every one cites the source we gave above, from some website called “National Report“. The author, a certain Jane M. Agni, also writes for Modern Woman, a rather odd feminist site. As I mentioned, she gives no source, no link, no date, no identifying features to show us this is an authentic quote and where we can find it. National Report calls itself “The #1 source for Independent News”. Right. The fact is it is a satire site (although how it arises to the level of satire I am yet to discover). Even the Drudge Report was duped by this very same article, lacking attribution, dates, etc. This is because things circulate through the news cycle at rather irregular rates, regardless of the actual date of the article. If Pope Francis news is trending, media outlets will look for the most salacious or outrageous headlines to garner web traffic, even though it is clear from the context that the event is quite old, where it says “In February, Pope Francis will…” etc. Nobody bothered to see National Report’s disclaimer!
More importantly, there is a whopper of a statement that shows either she is deliberately writing a hoax to stir the pot, or simply inept as a journalist (maybe both?):
“St. John Paul II has courted several controversies since being elected as Pope Benedicto XVI’s replacement in 2013. Francis has gone on record to say that homosexuals are not to be judged, Proselytism is nonsense and has endorsed the usage of contraceptive by Catholics.” (?) Ibid.
Now, it could be just a slip of the hand at the keyboard, an accident, but one evincing the level of journalism at this site. This is not a private blog where one could expect one writer is going to make mistakes, but the “#1 source for Independent News.” Apart from writing John Paul II’s name where it should be Francis, there is the last comment there, that Francis endorsed usage of Contraceptives. Maybe she is confusing Pope Benedict’s musings on whether a gay prostitute would do something less bad by using a condom than not, (which also do not amount to an endorsement of contraception) but no where has Francis done this.
In other words, this story is bunk. Nonsense. But some Traditional and Conservative Catholics are furiously sharing this around facebook and other places with indignation. And not unsurprisingly, team Bergoglio has made a lot of statements that are questionable or simply disturbing, such as Rabbitgate which makes this an almost believable quote.
Frankly, I think that Francis is the Pope that the powers that shouldn’t be want to use to usher in a new world religion, but for all the strange things he has said, he also says very orthodox things. In other words, Francis has not quite been the tool for that purpose. So, the media, by hint or command, has to manufacture stories like this to further suggest the point. This was put up some time ago, and is back again. It is NONSENSE.
The Church is under attack, we should not be given to jump into criticism of the Pope at every turn. If he says something that is scandalous, then we should look into it. But being duped by hoaxes plays into the hands of the Church’s enemies. We should rather more be given to prayer and watchfulness.
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