Since February 21st, 2023, Russian-language Facebook accounts (1,2,3,4,5,6) have been disseminating information about Pope Francis, claiming that the Pope said that paedophilia is a mysterious disease and we should not condemn those who suffer from it; instead, we should recognize that God loves paedophiles, he did not create them for no reason and has a special place prepared for them in heaven. In addition, the posts attribute the phrase to the Pope that we should accept paedophiles because, throughout history, they have existed in every culture and society.
The quote that God has a special place for paedophiles in heaven is fabricated. The Pope did not make such a statement, and the phrase that paedophilia was common in many cultures and societies is disseminated without context. It was voiced by the Pope in 2019 when he spoke about the severity of paedophilia and the need to research it.
The quotes disseminated on Facebook were verified by the American publication Lead Stories. According to the publication, the information first appeared on the website News Punch. In an article published on February 20th, 2023, along with quotes from the Pope, we found a screenshot of his Twitter post with the phrase, “God welcomes pedophiles in his heavenly kingdom.”
Some of the phrases in the article are fabricated. The Pope did not say God has prepared a special place for paedophiles in heaven. In addition, the screenshot of the tweet on the site is fake.
In addition, some of the Pope’s actual phrases are taken out of context, creating the impression that the Pope is trying to justify paedophilia. In particular, the statement that paedophilia has been found in many cultures throughout history indeed belongs to Pope Francis. In his address on February 24th, 2019, the Pope voiced the following phrase:
“Our work has made us realize once again that the gravity of the scourge of the sexual abuse of minors is, and historically has been, a widespread phenomenon in all cultures and societies. Only in relatively recent times has it become the subject of systematic research, thanks to changes in public opinion regarding a problem that was previously considered taboo; everyone knew of its presence yet no one spoke of it.”
The full context of the above quote shows that the Pope is talking about the severity of paedophilia and the need to research it, not about the need to welcome paedophiles.
Pope Francis often talks about the need to fight the problem of paedophilia. In 2019, he convened a special assembly to discuss the issue and cancelled some of the rules that prevented the investigation of violence by church officials.
About the source
News Punch is one of the most famous news sites that publish disinformation. It was initially known as YourNewsWire. According to Poynter.org, as early as 2018, about 80 fake articles were detected on the site, and 45 of its articles were flagged as false information as part of Facebook’s third-party fact-checking program.
In 2019, the founders of the site changed its name to News Punch and also changed the URL of the site. They cited the Facebook fact-checking program as the reason for this, which restricts the distribution of posts marked as false information.
The articles published by the above-mentioned website were fact-checked by “Myth Detector” a number of times in the past. For more information, see our articles:
- Did Mel Gibson Call Hollywood a Shelter for Cannibals? (Available in Georgian)
- Are Celebrities Threatening to Go on Strike Unless Everyone Gets Vaccinated? (Available in Georgian)
- Conspiracy about American Senators Kidnapping a 3-Year-Old in Portugal
- Misinformation: George Soros has been designated as persona non grata in Austria
Facebook user Вячик Гус often publishes conspiracy theories and false claims of anti-vax content.
The article has been written in the framework of Facebook’s fact-checking program. You can read more about the restrictions that Facebook may impose based on this article via this link. You can find information about appealing or editing our assessment via this link.
Read detailed instructions for editing the article.
Read detailed appeal instructions