Fact Check

Papal Bull

Published Jul 13, 2015

FACT CHECK:   Did Pope Francis say that mandatory sterilization for unwed mothers would prevent climate change?

Claim:   Pope Francis said mandatory sterilization of unwed mothers would prevent climate change.


Example:     [Collected via Twitter, July 2015]

Origins:   On 12 July 2015, the web site United Media Publishing posted an article titled "Pope Suggests Mandatory Sterilization of Unwed Mothers Could Prevent Climate Change." That article included a purported quote from Pope Francis linking childbirth with climate change and advocating the sterilization of women who bear children outside of marriage:

The Pope recently shocked supporters and detractors alike with stunning proclamations during a climate change encyclical. For starters, he claimed that the first step in combating climate change is to ease mankind’s carbon footprint by sterilizing all unwed mothers. “If your yard is filled with weeds, you pull the weeds. We have an over-surplus of individuals who are having children at younger and younger ages. These people have nothing of value to impart upon their offspring. They are a burden to society as well as the earth. If a young lady has proved that she is unable to deal with the responsibility of motherhood once, we ought to erase the possibility of it ever happening again.”

He continued to elaborate on how overpopulation is the number one factor causing drastic changes in climate. “Childbirth is no longer a sacred event. People are producing out children at an alarming rate and it must end immediately. We spay and neuter our pets, so why do we not perform the same on members of society too irresponsible to be a parent? Why should the children continue to suffer? Why should the world continue to suffer? Why do we keep charging in the same direction, blind to the obvious solution before us? We need to provide for the children who are here at this moment, but we should not bring any more into this world. To do so is to court our own demise.”

Pope Francis made no such remarks, and a statement to that effect would be quite newsworthy given the Catholic Church's historically strong opposition to sterilization (and contraceptive use) in general.

United Media Publishing's web site doesn't feature a disclaimer informing readers that its content is comprised entirely of fake news. However, previous articles from that outlet include a fabricated claim that Charles Manson had died in prison, a story woven from whole cloth suggesting Christian couples are "divorcing en masse" in protest of same-sex marriage, and another positing that transgender tampons have been developed and will be sold in stores.

Last updated:      13 July 2015

Originally published:     13 July 2015

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.