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.

So it may have been easy to believe that Pope Francis had declared at a major church gathering that Adam and Eve are a "fable", much like Hell.

Once again the claim, which in the words of the Los Angeles Times "went viral", derived from the Diversity Chronicle's satirical piece.

The same satirical piece that was mentioned above again was the source widely circulated online regarding this claim.

5. Don't Talk About Social Issues

(Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)Participants in the annual March for Life rally pass the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., Jan. 25, 2013. The pro-life marchers on Friday marked the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion, and Pope Benedict expressed support for the demonstrators.


Again, social progressives rejoiced when it sounded like Pope Francis was sympathizing with their views on how the Catholic Church should operate.

In an interview published by an American Jesuit publication in September 2013, the pontiff appeared to want the Church to distance itself from its conservative social positions.

"We have to find a new balance, otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel," said Francis, who felt the Church had become "obsessed" with the issues.

"Pope Francis Criticizes Catholic Church's Past Focus On Social Issues," noted Buzz Feed, with MSNBC reporting that "Progressive Catholics hail Pope Francis' position on social issues" and Huffington Post saying "Pope Francis: Gays, Abortion Too Much Of Catholic Church's Obsession."

What these and other publications either did not mention or underplayed was that Francis was by no means opposed to standing by said conservative social positions.

"The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church," declared Francis.

Furthermore, after the interview was published Francis has been quite vocal about the evils of abortion and assisted suicide.

6. Women and Public Office

(Photo: The Christian Post/Napp Nazworth)Sen. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (Minn.), Attorney General Pam Bondi (Fla.) and Lt. Governor Rebecca Clayfish (Wisc.) at "Celebration of Pro-Life Women Leaders" during the Republican National Convention, Tampa, Fla., Aug. 30, 2012.


In March of 2013, not long after Francis ascended to the position of head of the Catholic Church, statements attributed to him about women being unfit for public office surfaced.

As reported by a writer at examiner.com, then Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio said in 2007 that Argentine presidential candidate Cristina Kirchner was unfit for office because she was a woman.

"Women are naturally unfit for political office. Both the natural order and facts show us that the political being par excellence is male; the Scripture shows us that woman has always been the helper of man who thinks and does, but nothing more," said Francis.

The problem with the examiner.com story is that the quote was a complete fabrication, as noted by snopes.com.

"However, no documentation or reference for this quote antedating March 2013 has been found other than a single source of dubious veracity, as noted in an article denouncing the statement as an 'urban legend' on Foros Perú," reported Snopes.

7. Animals and Heaven

(Photo: Osservatore Romano/Reuters)

In December 2014, the pontiff was reportedly giving comforting words to a boy who had just lost his favorite pet. Francis proceeded to tell the boy that his dog went to Heaven, because animals go to Heaven when they die.

"One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all of God's creatures," reportedly said Francis.

Giving himself the name of a saint known for his love and care of animals probably only helped spread the purported quote.

However, the New York Times noted in a correction notice that the quote was likely given by Pope Paul VI instead and that Francis' remarks were different in tone and setting.

"He spoke in a general audience at the Vatican on Nov. 26, not in consoling a distraught boy whose dog had died. According to Vatican Radio, Francis said, in speaking of heaven, 'The Holy Scripture teaches us that the fulfillment of this wonderful design also affects everything around us'," noted the NYT.

"He did not say: 'One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all of God's creatures.' Those remarks are reported to have been made by Pope Paul VI to a distraught child."