Which of the following is not an actual quotation from Pope Francis about women?

A. "It pleases me to think that the Church is not ‘il Chiesa,’ it is ‘la Chiesa.’ The Church is a woman! The Church is a mother! And that’s beautiful, eh?"

B. "The woman is essential for the church. Mary, a woman, is more important than the bishops."

C. "We will also talk about the role of women in the Church. Remember the Church is feminine."

D. "Oh, women, women, they are so important. The church herself is a woman, yes? And that is why women are really so much better than men, forgive me if I speak plainly! Without its women the church is like a bumblebee at the post office, as we say in Argentina."

It's a tough call, I know. But believe it or not, that last quote comes from the not-quite-authentic Commonweal interview with Pope Frank. (Here are the sources for A, B, and C.)

Which is why I was surprised to see this:

"Oh, women, women, they are so important. The church herself is a woman, yes?" - Pope Francis https://t.co/MG886t3bKO

— Krista Tippett (@kristatippett) October 29, 2013

That tweet, from radio personality Krista Tippett to her more than 8,700 followers, has been retweeted (shared) 30 times. (Although one of those was me.) Glennon Melton shared it with more than 14,700 followers. Then the Twitter account for Tippett's show "On Being" retweeted it to more than 20,900 followers. Only then did someone finally reply to point out that the interview is not real.

It's possible that Tippett knew that all along, and just happened to choose the least jokey line in the piece as a representative quote. I'm not sure how else to explain her tweeting that "quote" instead of any of the similar, actual quotes it imitates. And I can't help but wonder how many people clicked that link, and how far into our interview they read before they caught on. I can't help but wonder, but I'm not sure I really want to know.

Mollie Wilson O’​Reilly is editor-at-large and columnist at Commonweal.

Also by this author

Please email comments to [email protected] and join the conversation on our Facebook page.

© 2024 Commonweal Magazine. All rights reserved. Design by Point Five. Site by Deck Fifty.