No, Pope Francis does not believe that the spiritual lessons found in the Quran "are just as valid" as ones found in the Holy Bible nor does he want to combine Islam and Christianity.
Vatican spokesman Greg Burke told The Associated Press this week that quotes attributed to Pope Francis that have been published on various websites that date back as far as 2015 are "invented" and false.
Numerous articles have been published online that quote the pontiff as saying that Jesus and Muhammad are essentially "the same" entities across the globe.
"Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Jehovah, Allah. These are all names employed to describe an entity that is distinctly the same across the world," the false quote state. "For centuries, blood has been needlessly shed because of the desire to segregate our faiths."
The false quotes appear to have originated from a fake article written by NationalReport.net, a website that has authored many other false headlines such as "Vladimir Putin Will Sing at Donald Trump's Inauguration, Sources Say" and "Ronald McDonald to Return in 2017 as 'Ronald Reagan.'"
The article falsely quotes the pope as saying that the "we can accomplish miraculous things in the world by merging our faiths, and the time for such a movement is now."
"During his hour-long speech, a smiling Pope Francis was quoted telling the Vatican's guests that the Koran, and the spiritual teachings contained therein, are just as valid as the Holy Bible," the first paragraph of the fake news story reads.
The NationalReport.net's false pope quotes on Islam are not the only false Pope Francis quotes circulating on the internet.
In December 2014, a meme circulated online that purported to quote Pope Francis as saying that believing in God is not required to be a good person.
"It is not necessary to believe in God to be a good person," the meme quotes the pontiff. "In a way, the traditional notion of God is outdated. One can be spiritual but not religious. It is not necessary to go to church and give money — for many, nature can be a church. Some of the best people in history do not believe in God, while some of the worst deeds were done in His name."
CNA reports that the quote has not been corroborated by any official text or statement issued by Pope Francis. The factchecking site Snopes.com shot down the meme as "false."
Although some Catholics questioned whether Pope Francis said during a 2013 homily that atheists could achieve redemption through good deeds, a Vatican spokesperson who translates his remarks into English clarified that he meant to suggest that "those who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ and his Church but sincerely seek God and, moved by grace, try to do his will as it is known through the dictates of conscience can attain eternal salvation."