Jimmy was born in Texas, grew up nominally Protestant, but at age 20 experienced a profound conversion to Christ. Planning on becoming a Protestant pastor or seminary professor, he started an intensive study of the Bible. But the more he immersed himself in Scripture the more he found to support the Catholic faith. Eventually, he entered the Catholic Church. His conversion story, “A Triumph and a Tragedy,” is published in Surprised by Truth. Besides being an author, Jimmy is the Senior Apologist at Catholic Answers, a contributing editor to Catholic Answers Magazine, and a weekly guest on “Catholic Answers Live.”
Some Internet sites are reporting that Pope Francis has declared that “all religions are true,” that there is no hell, and other provocative things.
But the whole thing is an Internet hoax.
Here are 5 things to know and share . . .
1) What is being attributed to Pope Francis?
Among other things, he is claimed to have said:
“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. This doctrine is incompatible with the infinite love of God. God is not a judge but a friend and a lover of humanity. God seeks not to condemn but only to embrace. Like the fable of Adam and Eve, we see hell as a literary device. Hell is merely a metaphor for the isolated soul, which like all souls ultimately will be united in love with God” Pope Francis declared.
In a speech that shocked many, the Pope claimed “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? In the past, the church has been harsh on those it deemed morally wrong or sinful. Today, we no longer judge. Like a loving father, we never condemn our children. Our church is big enough for heterosexuals and homosexuals, for the pro-life and the pro-choice! For conservatives and liberals, even communists are welcome and have joined us. We all love and worship the same God.”
2) Where did the hoax come from?
It originally appeared on a blog called Diversity Chronicle.
The post that contains it apparently was written by the site’s creator, Erik Thorson.
Subsequently, the story has been recycled elsewhere on the Internet, such as in the “Entertainment” section of VacancyNigerians.com.
3) How do we know it’s a hoax?
Through several means. One is the fact that the piece itself claims Pope Francis was speaking at the conclusion of the Third Vatican Council:
For the last six months, Catholic cardinals, bishops and theologians have been deliberating in Vatican City, discussing the future of the church and redefining long-held Catholic doctrines and dogmas. The Third Vatican Council, is undoubtedly the largest and most important since the Second Vatican Council was concluded in 1962. Pope Francis convened the new council to “finally finish the work of the Second Vatican Council.” While some traditionalists and conservative reactionaries on the far right have decried these efforts, they have delighted progressives around the world.
The Third Vatican Council concluded today with Pope Francis announcing that Catholicism is now a “modern and reasonable religion, which has undergone evolutionary changes.
Of course, there has been no Third Vatican Council.
If there had been, it would have been all over the news for months, and every semi-informed Catholic would be aware of it.
Ecumenical councils are huge events in the life of the Church, and modern media and the Catholic Internet would have focused on it intensively.
4) How else do we know it’s a hoax?
The site which originated it contains a disclaimer, which states:
The original content on this blog is largely satirical.
“I ceased in the year 1764 to believe that one can convince one’s opponents with arguments printed in books. It is not to do that, therefore, that I have taken up my pen, but merely so as to annoy them, and to bestow strength and courage on those on our own side, and to make it known to the others that they have not convinced us.” – Georg Christoph Lichtenberg.
It is in the spirit of the above quote that I write. Who am I you may ask? My name is Erik Thorson. I created this blog for my own personal amusement.
5) Are there other resources exposing this hoax?
Sure. For example, there is also a Snopes page on this subject.
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In the meantime, what do you think?