Did Pope Francis say that gun owners can’t call themselves Christians?
That’s the headline of a May 8 article on a website that calls itself New York Evening News.
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"Head of Catholic Church says those who own weapons are ‘hypocrites,’ not Christians," the article said. "As pressure mounts to tear up the U.S. Constitution once and for all, Pope Francis has added to the sentiment by declaring that gun owners can no longer call themselves Christian."
The link for the full text serves up a few more details on a separate website that paraphrases the pope saying that "when people claim to follow the teachings of Christ but also support gun ownership, it leads to a bit of distrust."
This is all a bit of a mashup of remarks the pope made three years ago in Turin, Italy, in 2015, when he was at a rally of thousands of young people.
Perhaps most important, the pope wasn’t talking about gun owners. He was talking about war, trust and politics. And he singled out the weapons industry.
"People, managers, businessmen who call themselves Christian and they manufacture weapons, that leads to a bit of distrust, doesn’t it?" he said, as reported by Reuters.
Notice that he didn’t mention gun owners. That was the invention of the web article.
The pope pulls no punches when he talks about war and arms makers.
In his 2015 address to Congress, he urged lawmakers to work to "end the many armed conflicts throughout our world."
And he added, "Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood."
The New York Evening News article had the pope talking about gun owners when he wasn’t, and gun makers specifically when he was talking about the arms trade in general. Plus, it made it sound as though he was speaking recently and in the context of the current debate over guns after the shootings in Parkland, Fla., when in reality, his speech was three years old.
It’s just another example of fake news writers shooting from the hip. We rate the headline Pants on Fire!