The claim dates back to at least April 2018. In July 2020, a Kenyan website published an article headlined “End Time: Is this Why Pope Francis has Rejected the Bible?” The article was shared with Africa Check in Kenya on WhatsApp.
It reports that the pope had deemed the Bible “outdated”. “'We cannot keep trying to talk to our audience in a completely, new world with an old book of several thousand years,” it quotes him as saying.
But the article gives no details on when or where Francis said this, and reads more like an opinion piece than a news story.
Has the head of the Catholic church “cancelled” its holiest book? We checked.
Fiction used as real news
If the claim was accurate, news of the Bible’s cancellation would have been widely reported across the world.
But no credible news outlet, including the Catholic church’s official Vatican News, has carried the story.
A Google search for “Pope Francis cancels the bible” only leads to fact-checks debunking the claim.
The story seems to have first appeared online in a 2 April 2018 article on the website There is News. The site describes itself as “a humour site whose purpose is entertainment”. It adds: “The content of TIN is fiction and does not correspond to reality.”
The site’s slogan is “not real, but so funny”. But when fiction – humour or satire – is reused as real news, it becomes disinformation.
Africa Check has debunked other fictional stories later shared widely on social media as though they were real.
‘Fake news’ – Catholic bishop
When the claim first started circulating in April 2018, Bishop José Luis Gerardo Ponce de León IMC of the Diocese of Manzini in Swaziland – part of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference – wrote an article dismissing it.
“In the last few weeks different people wrote to me privately asking if it is true that ‘Pope Francis has cancelled the Bible and proposes to create a new book’. This fake news is being shared on social media,” he said.
“It is interesting that people might believe something like this considering that Pope Francis has chosen to celebrate daily Mass with groups of people (mainly from the parishes in Rome) where he constantly refers to the Bible in his daily homilies.”
A year later, an article in Vatican News quotes the pope telling the Catholic Biblical Federation that “the Bible is not a beautiful collection of sacred books to study, it is the Word of life to be proclaimed through the streets of the world”.
In his homilies, or sermons, Francis continues to quote the Bible. The book is not “cancelled”. – Dancan Bwire
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