On 14 December 2015, multiple web sites carried news of what was purportedly Pope Francis’ “first selfie” (published to an Instagram account that appeared to belong to the Vatican):
Among outlets sharing the Papal selfie was CNN; video of that brief coverage was captured by a separate Twitter account:
While the claim was believable given Pope Francis’ reputation for being progressive and technologically adept, it was ultimately false.
The image (not a “selfie” in the strictest “self-taken” sense) appeared to have been captured from a video chat between Pope Francis and young Catholics around the world. At roughly the 01:23 mark of the video, a nervous young man can be seen inadvertently reading aloud a directive not to get nervous. In turn, His Holiness laughed:
The web site Mashable confirmed with the Vatican that the Pope neither maintained nor was involved with the Instagram account that published the fake selfie.
Previous rumors attached to the Pope falsely held that he said it was not necessary to believe in God, that he declared all religions were “true,” that he officially endorsed Bernie Sanders, that he did an impressive magic trick involving a tablecloth, that he revised Catholic doctrine to permit fornication, and that he stated beloved pets go to heaven.