“Did Pope Francis really say that? Probably not”

In a story by Eric J. Lyman for the Religion News Service and published in The Washington Post.

ROME — Did you hear that Pope Francis plans to call a Third Vatican Council? Or that he uncovered previously unknown Bible verses? Or that he sees the story of Adam and Eve as just a fable?

Here’s the problem: None of it is true.

Still, that didn’t stop these and other stories from ricocheting around the Internet and, in some cases, even in traditional news sources. Among the dozens of other fake pope stories are claims that he called hell a literary device and that he believes all religions are equally true.

The article mentions a warning from the Pontifical Council for Culture.

“Check the official Vatican media sources for confirmation of Pope Francis’ statements.” Remarks should be considered untrue if they do not appear on the pope’s Twitter feed, the Vatican Information Service, the Holy See press office, the Vatican website, Vatican radio, the L’Osservatore Romano newspaper or another official information source, the council said.

“If the statements attributed to the pope by any media agency do not appear in the official media sources of the Vatican, it means that the information they report is not true,” said the statement, which was written in all caps as if to underscore the point.

So far a decent enough article, but they couldn’t let that stand.

The Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior analyst with National Catholic Reporter, said only some fake comments are worth worrying about.

“There are basically three kinds of inaccurate comments,” Reese said. “There are the pranksters, and there are people who simply make mistakes because they don’t understand the issues being discussed. It’s hard to get worked up over those things.

“But then there are people who want to spin the pope’s point of view to further a particular agenda, and that’s very problematic and reprehensible.”

I almost fell out of my chair reading that last line. Fr. Reese thinks that people spinning what the Pope said or by extension spinning what the Church teaches as “very problematic and reprehensible.” Another example of somebody with an irony deficit. He has spun so much of what the Church teaches that I think one day he hopes to be named Spin Doctor of the Church.

Getting back to all the papal misinformation and disinformation you almost wish there was a source similar to Snopes which debunked urban legends or in this case I guess Pope Urban legends.

The problem is that it would be a full time job for a team of people to counter all of “the pope said what?” stories or false stories involving the Church. So it will continue to be crowd-sourced to Catholic bloggers and others in Catholic media not to mention individuals in their daily life.

By the way yes I am well aware of the fact that snopes.com like any fact checking site is not totally reliable.

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Jeffrey Miller (602 Posts)


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