Fake News: Pope Francis Did NOT Say World Government Must Rule U.S. 'For Their Own Good'

Fact Check

  • by: Maarten Schenk
Fake News: Pope Francis Did NOT Say World Government Must Rule U.S. 'For Their Own Good'

Did Pope Francis say a world government must rule the U.S. for their own good? No, that's not true: the story was made up by a website that attracts clicks and visitors by taking existing news reports out of context and adding an incendiary headline to it, often containing made up facts that are not found in the sources the article cites.

The story originated from an article published by NewsPunch on July 9, 2017 (when the site was still named YourNewsWire) titled "Pope Francis: World Government Must Rule U.S. 'For Their Own Good'" (archived here) which opened:

Pope Francis told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica that the United States of America has "a distorted vision of the world" and Americans must be ruled by a world government, as soon as possible, "for their own good."

The Pope made the observation in an interview with La Repubblica reporter Eugenio Scalfari.

"Last Thursday, I got a call from Pope Francis," Scalfari reported. "It was about noon, and I was at the newspaper when my phone rang."

He said Pope Francis had been watching Putin and Trump at the G20 and had become agitated. The Pope demanded to see him at four that afternoon, according to a Google translation of the Italian report.

"Pope Francis told me to be very concerned about the meeting of the G20," Scalfari wrote.

As translated into English by Agence France Presse, which picked up the story, the Pope said "I am afraid there are very dangerous alliances between powers who have a distorted view of the world: America and Russia, China and North Korea, Russia and Assad in the war in Syria."

"The danger concerns immigration," the Pope continued to La Repubblica. "Our main and unfortunately growing problem in the world today is that of the poor, the weak, the excluded, which includes migrants."

"This is why the G20 worries me: It mainly hits immigrants," Pope Francis said, according to AFP.

Since the original publication the article was widely copied and spread by various conspiracy weblogs as BuzzFeed News noted today in an article by Craig Silverman:

How An Apocalyptic Preacher And QAnon Followers Made A False Pope Francis Quote Go Viral

A false quote first attributed to Pope Francis two years ago is once again going viral thanks to a mix of apocalyptic preachers, followers of the QAnon conspiracy theory, and pro-Trump Facebook groups and pages. Over the past month, several religious websites have published articles claiming Pope Francis said the US needs to be overseen by a world government "for their own good."

However the only mention of the United States in the La Repubblica story (archived here) is:

Pope Francis told me to be very worried about the summit of the "G20". "I fear that there are very dangerous alliances between powers that have a distorted view of the world: America and Russia, China and North Korea, Putin and Assad in the war in Syria."

Original text:

Papa Francesco mi ha detto di essere molto preoccupato per il vertice del "G20". "Temo che ci siano alleanze assai pericolose tra potenze che hanno una visione distorta del mondo: America e Russia, Cina e Corea del Nord, Putin e Assad nella guerra di Siria".

In other words, the Pontiff expressed concern power was being concentrated too much in big alliances between different power blocks, which doesn't sound like advocating for one world government as that would basically the biggest alliance of power blocks possible. There is also no mention of "for their own good" or even the word "good" in the English translation, although the original Italian has "bene" a few times but meaning "well", as in "as we well known" or "are you well".

Amusingly the NewsPunch/YourNewsWire story also commented on European politics:

Pope Francis's idea that Americans would be better off under a world government doesn't stop there. The radical leftist pontiff also went on record stating that Europe should become one country under one government.
In the same interview, according to La Repubblica, Pope Francis said that Europe must take on a "federal structure," resembling feudal times when the peasants were ruled by unimpeachable monarchs.

To get political information you probably shouldn't trust a site that puts made up quotes in headlines and doesn't know the distinction between a federal state (like the United States) and a feudal state (in which a monarch and his nobles rule over a peasant class).

YourNewsWire has published several hoaxes and fake news articles in the past so anything they write or publish should be taken with a large grain of salt. Their Facebook page "The People's Voice" recently lost its verification checkmark according to a report from MMFA.

The Terms of Use of the site also make it clear they don't really stand behind the accuracy of any of their reporting:


The site was profiled in the Hollywood reporter where it was described as:

Your News Wire, a 3-year-old website of murky facts and slippery spin, is published by Sean Adl-Tabatabai and Sinclair Treadway -- a Bernie Sanders supporter in 2016 -- out of an apartment in L.A.'s historic El Royale.

RationalWiki described it as:

YourNewsWire (styled as YourNewsWire.com[1]) is an Los Angeles-based clickbait fake news website known for disseminating conspiracy theories and misleading information, contrary to its claimed motto ("News. Truth. Unfiltered").[1]

A while ago we also reported that YourNewsWire had rebranded itself as NewsPunch by changing its domain name in an apparent effort to evade filtering/blocking. Apparently the site has also become much more careful in recent months, removing articles flagged as false by fact checkers in order to stay clear of countermeasures implemented by social networks and search engines. We'll see if they take this one down.

  Maarten Schenk

Lead Stories co-founder Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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