One of the strangest rumors to emerge online recently holds that the Pope was arrested on sex abuse charges. Is it true? Was Pope Francis arrested?
No. There is no evidence that the Pope was arrested, for sex abuse charges or anything. In fact, Pope Francis was very active in days in which the rumor was spreading, offering prayers for those killed in the riots at the U.S. Capitol and expanding the role of women in the Catholic Church. That hasn’t stopped people from widely spreading the false information online.
The false arrest report has not been reported by any credible media. “Pope arrested for incest or is still on the job: Alt news and human trafficking,” blared an article on a site called Saporta Report. However, this article does not provide any sourcing to back up its claim. Instead, it says that the claim comes from “QAnon supporters.”
Here’s what you need to know:
The Rumor Was Started by Followers of the Bizarre QAnon Movement
Saporta Report makes it clear where the claims are coming from, writing, “QAnon supporters reported Sunday that Pope Francis was arrested Saturday on charges including human trafficking and incest.”
What is QAnon? “QAnon purports that America is run by a cabal of pedophiles and Satan-worshippers who run a global child sex-trafficking operation and that President Trump is the only person who can stop them,” CBS News reported. There is no evidence for this.
According to BBC, the completely “unfounded” conspiracy theory holds that “this fight will lead to a day of reckoning where prominent people such as former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will be arrested and executed.”
Several of the rioters who breached the U.S. Capitol were QAnon adherents, including Ashli Babbitt, the San Diego military veteran shot and killed by police when she tried to climb through a window into a secure lobby where members of Congress were being sheltered.
According to The New York Times, QAnon believers “falsely claims that President Trump is facing down a shadowy cabal of Democratic pedophiles.”
The Pope Gave Women More Rights in the Church as the Conspiracy Theory Raged
At a time that conspiracy theorists are falsely saying he was arrested, Pope Francis has been active as Pope.
On January 11, according to the Associated Press, the pontiff “changed church law” so women can perform a greater role during Mass, although he did not say they could become priests.
According to Politico, the Pope also weighed in on the Capitol rioting, saying that he was praying for those who lost their lives. In addition to Babbitt, a Capitol police officer died after being beaten and a woman was crushed by the crowd. Another Capitol police officer lost his life to suicide on Saturday.
“Violence is always self-destructive,” Francis said in the Capitol rioting statement, according to Politico, which said he asked leaders to exercise “a high sense of responsibility” to “calm souls” so that additional violence doesn’t erupt.
The Pope added, according to Politico, “I offer an affectionate greeting to the people of the United States, shaken by the recent siege of Congress.”
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