Hoax Alert: Pope NOT Opening Vatican City To Refugees

Fact Check

  • by: Maarten Schenk

It would have been a powerful signal to the world: the Pope opening the doors to Vatican City for Syrian refugees. So many people started sharing the news on Facebook when a website published an article saying His Holiness announced the following in a papal decree:

...a quota of Muslims will be allowed access to Vatican gift shop doorways from midnight on Friday on the small condition that they renounce their faith.

Wait, what?

He also reportedly imposed following additional conditons:

Anyone with a good singing voice who can touch their toes

If all that didn't tip you off yet, the article came from News Thump, a British website so good at satire they regularily manage to convince people their fake, made up stories are real. In just a few hours hundreds of people shared the news online, probably helped by the fact that when you share the story it looks pretty convincing:

Pope to open Vatican City to refugees

The Pope is to fulfil his Christian duty by ensuring that the Vatican City takes its fair share of godforsaken Syrian refugees. His holiness described the refugee crisis as a 'modern catastrophe', insisting all European states must do their bit, including little independent ones with stacks of gold and priceless artifacts.

(Except maybe the bit about stacks of gold and priceless artifacts)

Don't let yourself be fooled like all these folks were:


  Maarten Schenk

Lead Stories co-founder Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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