FACT CHECK: No, Pope Francis did not bless Duterte's administration

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Dec 13 2018 11:02 PM

A Philippine website ran an article claiming Pope Francis used a recent Vatican conference on drug addiction to bless governments, especially the administration of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, so they could fight "traffickers of death". 

Transcripts, videos and media reports of the pope’s official speech at the event show he did not bless the Duterte government.

The Philnetizen website’s report, which has been shared thousands of times on Facebook since it was first posted there December 3, 2018, claims that Pope Francis blessed the Duterte government at a conference held in Vatican City.

Here is a screenshot of the article:

The headline, when translated to English, says: “Pope Francis: Fighting drug lords and drug traffickers is the duty of each government”

Duterte launched a deadly crackdown on drugs in the Philippines in 2016.

The Philnetizen report did not say when the conference was held, but it used this quote from Pope Francis: “All of us are called to combat the production, processing and distribution of drugs worldwide. It is the duty and responsibility of governments courageously to undertake this fight against those who deal in death”.

An online search found this quote came from a speech given by Pope Francis on December 1, 2018 at the “Drugs and addiction” conference at the Vatican.

The Philnetizen website said that Pope Francis blessed governments, especially the Duterte administration, so that they could have more strength to fight “traffickers of death”.

Here is a screenshot of the paragraph in the article that makes this claim:

When translated to English, it says: “At the same time, Pope Francis blessed governments, especially the administration of Duterte, so they can be given more strength to fight what he calls ‘traffickers of death’”.

The speech given by Pope Francis at the December 1 conference did not mention the Duterte administration.

An article on Vatican News, the Holy See’s official information service, did not mention the pope blessing the Duterte administration.

The Philnetizen website published a video alongside their story.
Pope Francis is seen speaking in Italian from 0:29-0:46. He does not mention the Duterte administration.

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He says: “It is the duty, the task of governments to confront this fight against death traffickers with courage. Death traffickers — we must not be afraid of giving them this name.”

A search of the website of the Holy See also made no mention of the purported blessing given to the Duterte administration.

The misleading post has been shared multiple times by pro-Duterte Facebook groups, which have nearly 300,000 followers according to CrowdTangle data.