Pope Francis
A doctored video adds some very strange - and very false - subtitles to a speech by Pope Francis. Image by AP PHOTO

Pope’s ‘secret agenda’ speech translation is wholly inaccurate

William Summers January 25, 2024

A subtitled video shows the Pope speaking in Italian about a secret agenda in the Catholic church.


False. While the video is real, the English language subtitles are completely fabricated.

A video of Pope Francis has gone viral with English subtitles of his Italian speech that purport to show the Catholic leader confessing to “a secret agenda” of religious deception.

This is false. The video is real but the English subtitles are completely fabricated.

A true translation from Italian to English shows the head of the Catholic Church discussing his aspiration for unity among Christians. The words he speaks in Italian have almost no resemblance to the fake English subtitles.

The version with the concocted subtitles was published on Facebook on January 11, 2023, (archived here) by an Australian user who described the video as “the Pope’s confession to the world” and “The Real Truth About The Vatican And The Jesuit Priests”.

The widely shared post has since racked up more than one million views on Facebook.

Facebook post
 English captions on the video do not reflect what is said in Italian and are completely fabricated. 

Many of the comments on the post point out the subtitles are false but at the time of writing, the video has not been deleted or corrected by the person who posted it.

According to a 2014 news report, the video was recorded on an iPhone by Tony Palmer, a Pentecostal bishop and a friend of the pontiff.

The recording was played at a January 2014 gathering of U.S. Pentecostal leaders hosted by Texas-based evangelical organisation Kenneth Copeland Ministries.

The video and the Pope’s message of unity was reported at the time by both Catholic and mainstream media (for example here, here, here and here).

The message was also reported by multiple Italian media outlets, including here, here and here.

The original video with accurate subtitles is on the Kenneth Copeland Ministries website.

The Pope speaks in English before switching to Italian for the remainder of his seven-minute message.

The false subtitles on the Facebook version claim the Catholic leader starts the Italian-language part of his message by confessing to keeping secrets on behalf of his religion.

“You have to know something that I have been keeping secret for a long time,” the false subtitles read.

According to the fabricated subtitles, Pope Francis says people should not “look up” to him anymore or else they will be “thrown into a lake of fire”.

He then supposedly admits that Catholic leaders “really changed God’s law big time”.

At the 3min 53sec mark, a brief clip from a 1983 documentary interview with the late Alberto Rivera, a critic of the Catholic church who made a contested claim to be a former Jesuit priest, is edited into the video without explanation.

In another strange turn, at 6min 24sec the fake subtitles have Pope Francis chastising Christians for watching The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Game of Thrones and Lego Movie 2.

Game of Thrones
 TV sensation Game of Thrones was one target of the fake diatribe attributed to the Pope on Facebook. 

The genuine subtitles in the original video show Pope Francis talking about connections between Christian denominations and his hope for unity among them.

“We have lot of cultural riches, and religious riches. And we have diverse traditions. But we have to encounter one another as brothers,” Pope Francis says in the video.

“…And lets pray to the lord that he unites us all. Come on, we are brothers. Let’s give each other a spiritual hug and let God complete the work that He has begun.”

The subtitles attached to the video published by Kenneth Copeland Ministries broadly align with an automated translation of the video using Google Translate.

The Verdict

The claim that a video of the Pope shows him speaking about a secret agenda of the Catholic church is false.

The English subtitles on the video of the Pope speaking in Italian are fabricated.

The Pope spoke in the original video about Christian unity, not about the shortcomings of the Catholic church.

False – The claim is inaccurate

AAP FactCheck is an accredited member of the International Fact-Checking Network. To keep up with our latest fact checks, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

All information, text and images included on the AAP Websites is for personal use only and may not be re-written, copied, re-sold or re-distributed, framed, linked, shared onto social media or otherwise used whether for compensation of any kind or not, unless you have the prior written permission of AAP. For more information, please refer to our standard terms and conditions.