Ancient Rome religion, which gave rise the Christian faith, may have been influenced by the ancient cults of Mithraism and the Hinduism.
The ancient religion, the Catholic Church has argued, was influenced by Mithraic deities.
“I think that there is no doubt that the Mithra-like religion was derived from the religion of the Roman people,” Pope Francis said during a visit to the Vatican in November.
“There is also no doubt about the fact that this religion was also influenced by Hinduism and some other religions,” he added.
“So it seems that the influence of these three religions is very strong.”
The Pope has long been critical of religious texts written by Christians who, he said, had “distorted the true meaning of Christ”.
The Vatican has been criticised by some scholars and religious figures for its silence on the history of the religion.
It has been widely condemned for not publishing records of its founder, Saint Francis Xavier, the founder of the Franciscan Order.
He died in 1523, aged 69.
The Pope’s predecessors, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, did not acknowledge the existence of Mithras until years after his death.
But the Church has since established a number of sites and monuments to commemorate the Roman emperor’s cult and relics.
Pope Francis has been critical for years of the Vatican’s reluctance to acknowledge its role in the founding of Christianity.
The Vatican says the Catholic church has “no monopoly on the truth” and that it does not have any right to rewrite history.
The pope has also made a series of statements that have been criticised as anti-Christian, particularly his decision to ban the crucifixion of the dead in the Vatican cemetery, the Basilica of St John Lateran.
He has also criticised some Western Christian leaders for not acknowledging the existence and role of the “Anglicans”, a group of Roman Catholics, who founded the Catholic faith in the 16th century.
The Church has also faced criticism over the Church’s handling of child abuse cases, which it denies.
The pontiff has made no mention of the Church in his recent book, The Kingdom of God, but he has made an attempt to lay out his view of how Christianity can be more inclusive.
“I am a believer in the universalist approach to the problem of inequality, the fact of the existence, the potential of human diversity, and so on,” he wrote.
“If this does not sound like the Catholic approach, it’s because it is.”