Internet posts claim Russian President Vladimir Putin declared Pope Francis "is not a man of God," but we could find no proof of Putin saying such a thing.
An Aug. 5, 2017, post on USAConservativeReport.com said that Putin condemned Pope Francis in a speech at the Naval Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Kronstadt, near St. Petersburg.
"Pope Francis is using his platform to push a dangerous far-left political ideology on vulnerable people around the world, people who trust him because of his position," Putin is quoted. "If you look at what he (the Pope) says it’s clear that he is not a man of God. At least not the Christian God. Not the God of the Bible.
"He dreams of a world government and a global communist system of repression," Putin added. "As we have seen before in communist states, this system is not compatible with Christianity."
Facebook users flagged the story as being potentially fabricated, as part of the social media site’s efforts to fight fake news.
There are no dates given for Putin’s supposed comments, nor is there any indication to whom he was speaking. The post includes a YouTube video apparently generated by a computer that repeats the information.
Comments found in the USAConservativeReport.com post appeared on other outlets, none of which provided an original source for the comments. USAConservativeReport.com has no contact information, and our attempts to reach other outlets that shared similar stories, MacedoniaOnline.eu and YourNewsWire.com, went unanswered.
After a thorough search online and through Nexis archives, we didn’t find any record of Putin saying the Pope was "not a man of God."
Putin did make an official visit to the Naval Cathedral on July 30, which is Navy Day in Russia, an annual celebration of nautical military might. Putin also spoke to about 5,000 sailors. But he did not discuss the pope.
The speech was available on YouTube, with a translation that jibed with Western reports:
The Russian Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church have a strained relationship, with Russian believers accusing the Vatican of deliberately working to convert worshippers. The Catholic Church has denied doing so.
Putin and Pope Francis have met on two occasions, when the Russian president visited Vatican City in 2013 and 2015. While the pair discussed Christian persecution on both visits, topics also included Russian involvement in Syria and Ukraine.
Putin isn’t Catholic, but there’s no record we can find of him berating the pontiff in such a way.
We rate this claim Pants On Fire!