So many fake news sites have surfaced with URLs mimicking the URLs of the websites of mainstream media. This time, the fake CNN site, cnnnews-channel.com, even dragged Pope Francis’ name into the false story that claimed that he told Filipinos that President Rodrigo Duterte was chosen by God.
The story, with the title “Pope to Filipinos: Duterte is your son, chosen by God,” it made waves online in March after it was picked up by other blogs.
Blogs like duterteparallel.org and politicsnowadays.com also copied the story and even used the same title. It was then shared by Duterte fan pages on Facebook, such as “Pres. Rody Duterte Worldwide Supporters,” “Rody “Digong” Duterte Solid Group,” and “Duterte 2016 Bohol “ Calapenhon Movement, “” among others.
The link to cnnnews-channel.com is no longer available since the site seemed to have been taken down, so we ended up reading the story on duterteparallel.org. According to the story, Pope Francis urged Filipinos to pray to help the country overcome the challenges that it is facing and assured them that the “storm” will eventually pass. He also allegedly told the Filipinos to have faith in President Duterte. The story even quoted the Pope saying, “President Duterte is your son chosen by God.”
It was also noted in the story that Pope Francis blessed Duterte and the country in January and that the Philippine president cursed him for causing traffic when he visited the Philippines in 2015, something that Duterte apologized for later. The Vatican replied to Duterte’s apology and said that Pope Francis “offers assurance of his prayers for you, as he invokes upon you the divine blessings of wisdom and peace.”
The only thing that we could verify to be true in the story was the fact that Pope Francis blessed the Philippines and Duterte in January 2017, something that Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza relayed through a Facebook post. Dureza was in Rome to attend the third round of the peace talks between the communist groups and the Philippine government. He also took the time to deliver a letter from President Duterte to Pope Francis during the traditional kissing of the pontiff’s ring (baciamano) when he visited the Vatican.
However, we could not find credible reports about Pope Francis declaring that President Duterte was chosen by God.
Since it came from the noted fake news site cnnnews-channel.com, it makes the story even more suspicious. So no, this story is simply the product of the imagination of the fake story writer of the fake CNN website. The Vatican may have responded to Duterte’s apology over the cursing incident with Pope Francis offering prayers and blessings for him, but the pontiff never said Duterte was chosen by God.