Vatican debunks fake pope quotes on Christian/Muslim merger

Vatican debunks fake pope quotes on Christian/Muslim merger

Vatican debunks fake pope quotes on Christian/Muslim merger

Pope Francis celebrates a new year's Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini.)

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke says quotes used to suggest that Pope Francis wants to combine Islam and Christianity, which have circulated widely on various web sites and news outlets since 2015, are "invented."

A widely shared story that claimed Pope Francis called for merging Islam and Christianity is false.

The story falsely quotes Francis as telling a Vatican audience: “Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Jehovah, Allah. These are all names employed to describe an entity that is distinctly the same across the world. For centuries, blood has been needlessly shed because of the desire to segregate our faiths.”

Another quote it falsely attributes to Francis: “We can accomplish miraculous things in the world by merging our faiths, and the time for such a movement is now.”

Those lines attributed to Pope Francis have circulated widely on various web sites for some time, and were picked up in 2015, among other places, by the Drudge Report in 2015.

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke tells The Associated Press, however, that the quotes are “invented.”

An internet search reveals the fake quotes and various incarnations of the story have been shared by numerous websites since at least 2015.

In keeping with his predecessors, including both St. Pope John Paul II and emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, Francis has repeatedly pledged himself to closer ties with other faiths, and routinely meets leaders of other Christian churches and other religions.

At the same time, Francis, again in keeping with his predecessors, has also stressed the important of maintaining a clear sense of what makes Christianity distinct, warning in November 2015, for instance, that believers must not put their Christian identity “up for auction.”

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