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The Vatican Admits Altering a Photo of Retired Pope Benedict XVI Pope Francis' Letter

(Grzegorz Galazka\Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images, Sólo Díos basta/Gloria.TV)

Monsignor Dario Edoardo Vigano, the Prefect of the Secretariat for Communications admitted the Vatican manipulated the image of a letter from retired Pope Benedict XVI to Pope Francis.

In January, Vigano sent Benedict eleven volumes by Fr Roberto Repole on the importance of Pope Francis's theology and asked the retired Pope to contribute a theological page.


In response, the Pope emeritus wrote, "Unfortunately, even if only for physical reasons, I am not able to read the eleven little volumes in the near future, all the more so in that I am under other obligations to which I have already agreed."

That passage, however, was blurred in the photo showing the letter.



The Secretariat for Communication released the image on Monday showing the "personal letter of Benedict XVI on his continuity with the pontificate of Pope Francis." The photo was part of a press release a day prior to the five-year anniversary of Pope Francis's election.

On Wednesday, The AP's Nicole Winfield wrote that the "manipulation changed the meaning of the image in a way that violated photojournalist industry standards."

The Vatican admitted Thursday [sic] that it blurred the two final lines of the first page. … The Vatican didn't explain why it blurred the lines other than to say it never intended for the full letter to be released. In fact, the entire second page of the letter is covered in the photo by a stack of books, with just Benedict's tiny signature showing, to prove its authenticity.



Vatican expert Edward Pentin published an English translation of the letter for the National Catholic Register, describing Francis as "just a practical man without particular theological or philosophical formation, while I have been only a theorist of theology with little understanding of the concrete life of a Christian today."



In the beginning of the letter, dated February 7th, Benedict commented that the books "show, rightly, that Pope Francis is a man of profound philosophical and theological formation, and they therefore help to see the inner continuity between the two pontificates, despite all the differences of style and temperament."

Winfield expressed that the Vatican was in serious violation for giving the media a different impression of the retired Pope's message through the provided quotes – that Benedict actually read the provided volume and provided a full assessment.

The doctoring of the photo is significant because news media rely on Vatican photographers for images of the pope at events that are otherwise closed to independent media.





The controversy of the altered photo is especially notable since it was released a few weeks after Francis condemned the spreading of fake news and compared it to the evil that brought about the destruction of Adam and Eve.

"If responsibility is the answer to the spread of fake news, then a weighty responsibility rests on the shoulders of those whose job is to provide information, namely, journalists, the protectors of news," wrote the pontiff in a message in preparation for Vatican's World Communications Day, which would fall on May 13.

Twitter starting losing their faith over the doctored photo.





Competence was questioned rather than its conspiracy.


Others saw the manipulation as being completely deliberate.


H/T - APnews, Twitter, HuffingtonPost, NCregister