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Hoax – Pope Benedict XVI Resigned Papacy to Convert to Islam

by Brett M. Christensen

Outline

Circulating story claims that Pope Benedict XVI resigned in February 2013 because he had decided to convert to Islam.

Brief Analysis

The claims in the message are nonsense. The message is derived from a story first published in February 2013 on satirical news site “Dead Seriousness”. All of the stories published on the site are entirely fictional. The story escaped its original context and has circulated ever since via social media sites and email.

Example

HOLY SEE – In a shocking press conference Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI revealed to the world that he will be stepping down from the Catholic Church’s highest office. “Through prayer and reflection over the past years,” the world’s holiest man began, “I’ve realized that Allah is the one true God.”

Amid clattering camera shutters and roaring reporters, Pope Benedict patiently answered questions, citing traditional Muslim folklore as well as passages from the Qur’an to explain his decision. His session was interrupted only once, when he swiveled South-East to face Mecca, stooped to the ground, and recited the Asr, one of the five daily prayers central to Muslim belief.

 

Detailed Analysis

According to a message that has been circulating for several months, previous Pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI actually resigned his post in February 2013 because he converted to Islam and could therefore no longer play his role as head of the Catholic Church. The message claims that Pope Benedict made the decision after years of prayer and reflection and because he came to realize that “Allah is the one true God”.

But, not surprisingly, the claims in the message are utter nonsense. Pope Benedict has certainly not converted to Islam. The message began life as a story published on the “news” section of the satire and humour website “Dead Seriousness” in February 2013.  The website specializes in satirical – and entirely – fictional articles, many of which are couched as news reports.

Most site visitors who have a careful read of the articles will quickly realize their satirical and humorous nature and will not take them seriously.  However, partly because the site does not include a disclaimer on its articles explaining that the reports are untrue, at least a few readers are duped into believing what they read.

Moreover, the above article fairly quickly escaped the confines of its original home and began circulating via email and social media as a stand-alone “news” story, thus duping even more recipients. Amusingly, the story has generated a good deal of often angst-ridden commentary about the Pope’s supposed decision.

The message is reminiscent of another widely circulated satire article that falsely claimed that the Pope had come out as gay. This message also escaped from a satirical website.

It is always wise to check the veracity of any supposed news story that reaches you via email or social media. Of course, if the Pope had really converted to Islam – or declared himself as gay – then the story would have been covered by mainstream media outlets all around the world.

Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

I hope that my work over the years has helped to make the Internet a little safer and thwarted the activities of at least a few scammers and malicious pranksters.

A Big Thank You

I would also like to thank all of those wonderful people who have supported the project by sharing information from the site, contributing examples of scams and hoaxes, offering suggestions, donating funds, or helping behind the scenes.

I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,
Hoax-Slayer