These days, it’s embarrassingly easy to find just about any information you want. It’s all right there at your fingertips. You carry the world’s knowledge around with you in your pocket every day. And yet, it seems that the more access we have to knowledge, the worse we get at figuring out how accurate it is.
Did you see the story about Pope Francis last week? It popped up on my Facebook feed one evening, and before I knew it, the story was everywhere. It was wonderful. It told us all about the Third Vatican Council that has been going on this year. It told us that the Pope declared that “All religions are true.” It told us that he would “right away” begin ordaining women into all levels of the priesthood. The style was journalistic, sensory details such as “His voice loudly echoing through St. Peter’s basilica” (sic) added credibility. Memes and sharing started blossoming almost immediately. It was a beautifully written piece.
And it was completely false. The Snopes article went up within a day after I first saw it. There isn’t even such a thing as the “Third Vatican Council.” The Pope never said this:
The popularity of this false piece of writing actually encourages me. It tells me that our community is good and loving. They want justice for all people, regardless of faith, gender, or sexuality. They wanted so badly for this message to be true. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t.
It was really nice to see people all over sharing what they thought was a groundbreaking message of love and inclusion, even if it was false. Still, it made me think, “Damn, I know some really nice people!” There was so much hope.
No one would have believed it from this Pope’s predecessor. In a short time, Francis has demonstrated enough of a difference in message that his false comments had a tinge of believeability. The Vatican works slowly; even that little tinge, that slight shift in message, offers a small tinge of hope.
With so much information out there, and with anyone able to say anything at any time reaching any number of people almost instantly, it is becoming more and more vital to check our sources. Still, it was nice to see the hope flowing from this little piece of “too good to be true.”