Fact Check: Vatican Did NOT Confirm Pope Francis And Two Aides Tested Positive for Coronavirus

Fact Check

  • by: Maarten Schenk
Fact Check: Vatican Did NOT Confirm Pope Francis And Two Aides Tested Positive for Coronavirus

Did the Vatican confirm Pope Francis and two of his aides tested postitive for coronavirus? No, that's not true: there has been no official Vatican communication that says this, and the site where the story appeared was registered anonymously just a few days ago. At the time of writing, the site appears to be down but links to the story (with the made-up headline) are still circulating on social media.

The claim originated from an article published by MCM on February 29, 2020, titled "Vatican confirms Pope Francis and two aides test positive for Coronavirus - MCM" (archived here) which opened:

The Vatican has confirmed in a statement that Pope Francis and two of his aides have tested positive for the novel Coronavirus.
The three new cases add up to the over 400 cases confirmed in Italy under a week.
Pope Francis missed a planned Mass with clergy in Rome yesterday after showing Coronavirus-like symptoms.
The Vatican had earlier said the pontiff, 83, had a slight indisposition and could proceed with the rest of his planned work today.

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail:

Vatican confirms Pope Francis and two aides test positive for Coronavirus - MCM

The Vatican has confirmed in a statement that Pope Francis and two of his aides have tested positive for the novel Coronavirus.

However the official website of the Press Office of the Vatican makes no mention of the claim at all. Neither does the "Pope" section of the offician Vatican News website. The Pontiff did limit his activities over the past few days due to an illness, but he has since resumed public appearances:

Pope makes first public appearance following illness

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis on Sunday made his first public appearance in four days following what the Vatican has called a "slight indisposition" that forced him to cancel some audiences and activities. The 83-year-old Roman Catholic leader appeared at the window of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace to address thousands of people in St.

According to WHOIS data, the website mcmnt.com that was behind the hoax was only registered a few days ago:

mcmnt.com Updated 14 hours ago
Domain Information
Domain:mcmnt.com
Registrar:NameCheap, Inc.
Registered On:2020-02-26
Expires On:2021-02-26
Updated On:2020-02-26

The site carries no information about who is behind it on an "About" or "Contact" page, as Twitter user Cindy Otis remarked in this Twitter thread yesterday:

When seeing incredible news online that appears to come from a website you've never seen before, it is generally a good idea to check the official websites first before sharing.

Want to inform others about the accuracy of this story?

See who is sharing it (it might even be your friends...) and leave the link in the comments.:

Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.


  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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