Fact Check: Viral Post Showing Last Three Popes Meeting Each Other Is Fake

A viral black-and-white photograph of three pastors meeting each other is doing the rounds on social media. It is claimed that the men in the picture are three last Popes, namely, Pope Saint John Paul, Pope Benedict, and Pope Francis. 

A Facebook user posted the viral picture with a caption: A photo of our last three popes, Pope Saint John Paul. Pope Benedict and  Pope Francis. 

They didn’t know it at the time but GOD did.

You can check the post here.


NewsMobile fact-checked the viral picture, and found it to be false.

Running a Reverse Image Search of the viral image, we found a picture in the online archives of Associated Press,, with a title: VATICAN POPE JOHN PAUL II GREETS JOSEPH CARDINAL RATZINGER, submitted on April 27, 2010, matches the viral post, except for the man in the middle. 

We also came across a Spanish article, titled: Foto viral en redes sociales no muestra a los tres últimos Papas (English: Viral photo on social networks does not show the last three Popes), published on March 14, 2013, on the catholic news website ACI Prensa.         


Here too, the picture in the article matches the viral photo except for the man in the middle. The article informs that the three men in the picture are Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict), Pope John Paul II, and Cardinal Edouard Gagnon. While the viral claim places Pope Francis in the middle in the picture, the article clarifies that the claim is wrong and it is actually Cardinal Edouard Gagnon a late Canadian cardinal, who was President of the Pontifical Council for the Family from 1985 to 1990.

We found a similar article on a French catholic website Riposte Catholique, confirming the identity of the man in the middle as Cardinal Edouard Gagnon.

Therefore, we can conclusively say that the viral picture showing the last three Popes standing together is false.

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