POPE FRANCIS TO REVISE 10 COMMANDMENTS?

hoax-pope-francis

On 6 July 2015, Real News Right Now (http://realnewsrightnow.com/) published a report about Pope Francis’ intentions to revise the 10 Commandments, supposedly announced during his visit to South America. Some of the report read as follows:

“During his sermon, Pope Francis announced to Christians around the world that God had called upon him, instructing him ‘to revise the most sacred of texts, the Ten Commandments’. Pope Francis said Christians around the world are ‘faced with ever-increasing temptations brought on by the evils of modern society’. The Pope said the updated Commandments reflect the changing times and include some minor rewording of the existing rules as well as the addition of two new Commandments.

The Fourth Commandment, which advocates that proper respect be shown towards one’s parents, has been reworded in order to include children raised by same-sex parents. Pope Francis said the Seventh Commandment, prohibiting adultery and, among other things, homosexuality, has been removed entirely, as instructed by God, in order to extend ‘God’s grace to all His children’. The new Fifth Commandment, which replaces the prohibition of adultery, forbids all aspects of genetic engineering and bans the consumption of genetically modified foods.

Lastly, the Eleventh Commandment disallows personal idolisation and the glorification of one’s self over God. Using the Kardashians, a highly publicised celebrity family, as an example, Pope Francis said, ‘Selfies are an abomination in the eyes of our Lord.’

A spokesman for the Vatican, Father Federico Lombardi, said the Eleven Commandments are currently being etched into marble by an Italian sculptor and, upon completion, will be unveiled to the world in Saint Peter’s Square following an internationally televised mass.”

TRUTH OR HOAX?

This article is a classic piece of satire, taking a little truth and mixing it with lies while making it look like a legitimate news article.

INcontext applies seven ‘hoax verification guidelines’ when evaluating news that may be untrue, so below are applications of some of these guidelines relative to this particular article about the Pope’s revision of the 10 Commandments:

1.       USE COMMON SENSE

Common sense would suggest that the Pope would never do anything as drastic as revising the 10 Commandments – as leader of the biggest religious group in the world, doing anything like this would bring about the wrath of millions of people. The mention of selfies and the Kardashians also immediately suggest that this article is meant to be funny.

2.       CLICK ON ANY AVAILABLE LINKS

The “About” link at the top of the page (http://realnewsrightnow.com/about/) takes you to a profile of the author, R. Hobbus J.D., who is described as follows:

“…an internationally acclaimed independent investigative journalist specialising in international politics, health, business, science, conflict resolution, history, geography, mathematics, social issues, feminism, space travel, civil rights, human rights, animal rights, fashion, film, astronomy, classic literature, religion, biology, paranormal activity, the occult, physics, psychology, and creative writing”. He is credited as having work featured in serious publications that include Time Magazine, Newsweek and The Economist, but also as having written for Playboy, Mad Magazine and Nintendo Power. The profile also states that he has received three Nobel Peace Prize nominations and three Pulitzer awards.

This is clearly intended to be humourous, therefore anything published on the site should be taken as having been written for entertainment purposes.

3.       DO A GOOGLE SEARCH

If this was a genuine news story, it would have been reported widely on mainstream media. Media houses like Al Jazeera, CNN and BBC News have reported on the Pope’s statements in the past, and something like this – affecting millions of people around the globe – would be headlined on all legitimate news stations if it were true.

In terms of this particular article, no other (reputable) media sources anywhere on the web reported anything similar.

4.       CRITICALLY ANALYSE THE SOURCE

Other stories appearing on the website point to the source’s satirical nature. Other headlines on the site include the following, none of which could be true:

  • Protestant Leaders Declare Reunification of Churches Under the Holy See
  • Walmart to Burn Thousands of American Flags Following Recall
  • Following Coup, President Obama Assumes Control of Pyongyang
  • Jamie Foxx Tells Good Morning America: ‘I’m White’
  • Edward Snowden to Announce Bid for 2016 U.S. Senate Seat

Additionally, the source is a WordPress site, commonly used for blogs, and is therefore not a reputable source.

5.       LOOK OUT FOR SATIRE

Satire often focuses on topics that connect with widely-held prejudices and issues that produce an emotional ‘knee-jerk’ reaction. Christians who are prejudiced against the Catholic Church would have found the ‘facts’ in this article to be confirmation of this prejudice, and would be likely to accept it as truth without seeking further information or clarification.

The style of satire involves starting with a little bit of truth and then mixing in ridiculous claims. In this particular instance, it is true that Pope Francis visited Ecuador on Sunday 5 July and spoke about the role of families and the necessity of love therein. This, however, is the only truth in the article.

THE ARTICLE IS THEREFORE CLEARLY A HOAX WRITTEN BY A SATIRIST, AND AS SUCH SHOULD NOT BE PASSED ON OR SHARED.

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