VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Satire on Pope Francis saying COVID-19 vaccine needed to enter heaven FALSELY posted as real news

Facebook page (FB) Prophecy News wrongly presents as true a satirical piece where Pope Francis said getting inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine is now a requirement to enter heaven.

This is false. The statement attributed to the pope was actually screen grabbed by Prophecy News from satirical site Babylon Bee (babylonbee.com) which describes itself as “the world’s best satire site.” Its common topics are “about Christian stuff, political stuff, and everyday life.”

Prophecy News is managed by three accounts, all located in the Philippines, according to its FB page transparency section. A look at the post’s interactions shows engagements from FB accounts both locally and internationally.

The FB page gave no indication of the satirical nature of its Dec. 2 post and even copied Babylon Bee’s Nov. 30 report word-for-word in its caption. It added the following line made in reference to the pontiff: “YOU ARE INDEED A FALSE PROPHET!!!”

The satirical piece, titled “Pope Francis Says Covid Vaccine Will Now Be Required To Enter Heaven,” carried a thumbnail showing a February 2014 photo of Francis from stock image provider Shutterstock, and an inset photo showing a 3D illustration of a COVID-19 vaccine, from Getty Images’ iStock photo service.

Among the claims made in the satire is that not getting the COVID-19 vaccine is “the greatest earthly sin of all,” and that the Pope has “commanded the Catholic church to deny communion to any unvaccinated members.”

Pope Francis had addressed the issue of a vaccine when he said the poor should be the first to receive it during a Sept. 25 video message to the United Nations General Assembly.

A week before the satirical story was published, news media reported about the pope's latest book, 'Let Us Dream. The Path to a Better Future' which was co-authored by his biographer. The book covers various themes, including Pope Francis' vision of a post-coronavirus world.

Prophecy News’ untrue post was viewed over 67,600 times in the past 24 hours, according to FB’s fact-check platform. It has also received more than 2,300 interactions on FB, with some of the top comments calling Francis a “hypocrite” and the “anti-Christ.”

Prophecy News was created on Sept. 25, 2015.


(Editor's Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)

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