Vatican spokeswoman repudiates newly resurrected rumors
The vice director of the Vatican’s press office, Paloma García Ovejero, has confirmed that rumors about the pope going out at night disguised as a simple priest to feed the poor are false.
This “urban legend” has been circulating for some time, and recently got new traction through a Spanish-language Facebook profile attributed to “Papa Francesco.” The profile recently published a picture of the future pope, while archbishop of Buenos Aires, in front of St. Peter’s.
“Pope Francis, dressed as a simple priest, went out in disguise during the night to visit and comfort the homeless of Rome, assisting the charity teams of the Holy See in the distribution of food, clothing and funds,” according to the February 15 post, which has been shared some 84,000 times.
Pope Francis, in fact, dedicates his most recent message for World Communications Day to the theme of fake news. He reflects:
The most radical antidote to the virus of falsehood is purification by the truth. In Christianity, truth is not just a conceptual reality that regards how we judge things, defining them as true or false. The truth is not just bringing to light things that are concealed, “revealing reality”, as the ancient Greek term aletheia (from a-lethès, “not hidden”) might lead us to believe. Truth involves our whole life. In the Bible, it carries with it the sense of support, solidity, and trust, as implied by the root ‘aman, the source of our liturgical expression Amen. Truth is something you can lean on, so as not to fall. In this relational sense, the only truly reliable and trustworthy One – the One on whom we can count – is the living God. Hence, Jesus can say: “I am the truth” (Jn 14:6). We discover and rediscover the truth when we experience it within ourselves in the loyalty and trustworthiness of the One who loves us. This alone can liberate us: “The truth will set you free” (Jn 8:32).
At least as far back as December 2013, in the same year as his election, there were rumors that the pope went out at night to minister to the poor. Around that time, the papal almoner, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, was asked about these supposed events. He merely smiled and said, “Next question, please.”