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Fake News: Pedophile Priest Who Raped 200 Children NOT Forgiven By Pope Francis

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Wed, 14 Aug 2019 21:16:50 Z)

Did Pope Francis forgive a priest who raped 200 children and did this enable the priest to abuse more children? No, that's not true: the priest mentioned in the story died in 2005 and Francis only became Pope in 2013. The story offers no proof of the claim that Francis forgave the man. And even if he did: no matter how much you forgive a dead man he can't abuse children anymore.

The claim was made in the headline of an article that doesn't actually mention Pope Francis in the rest of the story at all. The article also claims the priest wrote a letter to Pope Paul VI in 1973 seeking "absolution" and that it was granted but that section of the article seems to be copy-pasted from an original news report with some crucial words altered: the letter was to obtain his release from the priesthood (but did contain confessions of pedophila).

The article (archived here) appeared on AmRedeemed on February 8, 2019 under the title "Pedophile Priest who Raped 200 Children Forgiven by Pope Francis". It opened:

James Porter, the evil priest who raped over 200 children, confessed his pedophilia to the Pope who decided it best to "forgive and forget", it has been revealed.By ignoring his pedophile confession, the Pope left Father Porter to sexually abuse many more children that could've otherwise been spared.

The pedophile priest was caught after a private investigator, who was working with the serial rapist's victims, taped a phone conversation in which Porter admitted to raping over 100 children. The church ended up settling 131 claims related to Porter, making it the largest sex abuse scandal in history until new allegations later emerged in Boston involving defrocked priest Paul Shanley.

Screenshot of https://amredeemed.com/end-time-headlines/pedophile-priest-who-raped-200-children-forgiven-by-pope-francis/

The priest named in the story, James Porter, died in 2005 while in prison:

Pedophile priest James Porter dies at 70

Former priest James Porter, whose widespread molestation of dozens of children foreshadowed the clergy sex abuse scandal that swept the Roman Catholic church, died Friday. Porter, 70, died at New England Medical Center in Boston, where he had been treated since being transferred from a Department of Correction medical facility last month, said Diane Wiffin, a spokeswoman for the department.

The article on AmRedeemed claims the priest sent an affidavit to seek absolution from the Pope in 1973:

According to the Boston Globe, the Roman Catholic priest admitted in a 1973 letter to Pope Paul VI that he had molested youths in five states."I know in the past I used to hide behind a Roman collar, thinking that it would be a shield for me," Porter wrote to the Pope in a four-page affidavit seeking absolution for his "unholy deeds". NY Times reports: The affidavit, which was accompanied by a 20-page statement of his troubles statement, is a clear indication of how widespread knowledge was inside the Roman Catholic Church about Mr. Porter's activities while he was a priest from 1960 to 1974.

Compare that with what the NY Times actually wrote:

James R. Porter, a former Roman Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing more than 100 children, admitted in a 1973 letter to Pope Paul VI that he had molested youths in five states, The Boston Globe reported today.

"I know in the past I used to hide behind a Roman collar, thinking that it would be a shield for me," Mr. Porter wrote to the Pope in a four-page affidavit seeking to obtain his release from the priesthood in 1973, according to The Globe.

The affidavit, which was accompanied by a 20-page statement of his troubles statement, are the latest indication of how widespread knowledge was inside the Roman Catholic Church about Mr. Porter's activities while he was a priest from 1960 to 1974. Pope Paul VI approved Father Porter's request on Jan. 5, 1974, The Globe said.

In conclusion: yes, this priest was a horrible pedophile and yes, the Catholic Church knew about it. But it all happened over 40 years ago, and Pope Francis has nothing to do with it. The headline and first two paragraphs of the article deliberately hide the fact that it is a very old story and falsely implicate the current Pope in an attempt to generate outrage clicks and shares. Don't fall for it!

About the author:

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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