7 Times Pope Francis Was Misquoted

(Photo: Reuters/Tony Gentile)Pope Francis, who's 78th birthday is today, waves as he leaves at the end of his general audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican, December 17, 2014.

As the first head of the Roman Catholic Church to be from Latin America and winner of Time Magazine's Person of the Year, Pope Francis is kind of a big deal.

And like any person who is a big deal, he has said a lot of things on a lot of topics. Problem is, there is also a lot of stuff attributed to him that, well, might not be accurate.

From judging to atheism, from animals to launching a Third Vatican Council, below in no particular order are a few of the statements that Francis either did not make or that have been taken out of context.

1. Atheism and Salvation

(Photo: Chris Calvey)The student group Atheists, Humanists, & Agnostics (AHA) of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


In September, Pope Francis appeared to claim that atheists could go to Heaven, even if they never believe in Jesus, so long as they do good.

It was reportedly part of an open letter response to atheist Italian journalist Eugenio Scalfari of the publication The Republic.

"I start by saying – and this is the fundamental thing – that God's mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience," wrote the pontiff.

Later on in a radio message, the Pope said "The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! 'Father, the atheists?' Even the atheists. Everyone!"

The United Kingdom publication the Independent stated that "Pope Francis assures atheists: You don't have to believe in God to go to heaven" and the Huffington Post reported "Pope Francis Says Atheists Who Do Good Are Redeemed, Not Just Catholics."

However, as Catholic writers noted, the interpretation of the pontiff's remarks may have been a bit off, namely that being redeemed and being saved are two different things.

"Pope Francis did not say that an atheist who does naturally good things can be saved if he dies an atheist," wrote Brian Kelly of Catholicism.org.

"The Pope… simply reminded the faithful that there can be, and is, goodness, or natural virtue, outside the Church. And that Christ's death on the Cross redeemed all men. He paid the price so that every man could come to God and be saved."

Furthermore, a couple months later the Holy See removed Francis' comments to Scalfari, arguing that there were certain mistakes in how the text was written up.

"The information in the interview is reliable on a general level but not on the level of each individual point analyzed: this is why it was decided the text should not be available for consultation on the Holy See website," noted a Vatican spokesman.

"Its removal is a final update on the nature of this text. Some mistakes were made regarding its value, which was questioned."

2. Third Vatican Council

(Photo: Reuters/Claudio Peri/Pool)Pope Francis leads the synod of bishops in Paul VI's hall at the Vatican October 6, 2014. Pope Francis opened a global Roman Catholic assembly on Sunday showing his apparent irritation with Church leaders who have waged a sometimes bitter public battle between progressives and conservatives on family issues.


In December the Diversity Chronicle reported that Pope Francis had not only called a 'Third Vatican Council', but at the end of it had made several changes to Catholic doctrine.

"Through humility, soul searching, and prayerful contemplation we have gained a new understanding of certain dogmas. The church no longer believes in a literal hell where people suffer," said Francis, according to the Chronicle.

"All religions are true, because they are true in the hearts of all those who believe in them. What other kind of truth is there?"

The statements by the pontiff garnered much online attention, including websites like http://www.granddesignexposed.com looked with concern at the rhetoric.

Just one problem: Diversity Chronicle is a satirical website. As the blog author says, "original content on this blog is largely satirical."

3. Who Am I to Judge?

(Photo: Reuters/Davis Turner)Jesus Hernandez (L) and Oscar Hull (C) are married outside of Mecklenburg County Register of Deeds office in Charlotte, North Carolina, October 13, 2014. Monday was the first day that Mecklenburg County issued marriage licenses to gay couples.

One of the most widely circulated and quoted remarks of Pope Francis came from an interview he gave following the Catholic event known as World Youth Day.

A journalist asked Pope Francis about whether or not there was a gay lobby at the Vatican, and the Pope responded thusly: "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?"

Francis' comment was hailed by LGBT organizations and major news media outlets as a sign of an evolving Catholic Church.

The LGBT publication the Advocate gave Francis their person of the year award and some even speculated that the Church may become more open to blessing homosexual unions.

While celebrating the quote above, many neglected to note the rest of the response, wherein the Pope declared its important to "distinguish between a person who is gay and someone who makes a gay lobby", adding that "A gay lobby isn't good."

Francis has continued to uphold the teaching of the Church on homosexuality. For example, in November 2014 at a major gathering in the Vatican Francis said "the complementarity of man and woman … is at the root of marriage and family."

4. Adam and Eve are Fictional

(Photo: Jean-Pol GRANDMONT via Wikimedia Commons)Adam and Eve (ceiling panel).


For years if not decades the Catholic Church has been openly sympathetic to the Theory of Evolution being true.