Vatican office altered photo of Benedict’s comments on Francis

Manipulation changed the meaning of the image, according to the Associated Press

Monsignor Dario Viganò, Prefect, Vatican Secretariat for Communications. (Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA)

The AP’s Nicole Winfield wrote March 14 that the Vatican has admitted “that it altered a photo sent to the media of a letter from retired Pope Benedict XVI about Pope Francis. The manipulation changed the meaning of the image in a way that violated photojournalist industry standards.”

Winfield added that “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.”

The full text of the letter was published March 13 by Sandro Magister, an Italian journalist who has long followed the Vatican.

The text shows that Benedict’s letter, dated Feb. 7, was written to acknowledge receipt of the gift of a series of 11 volumes on “The Theology of Pope Francis,” and to respond to a request that the Pope Emeritus write a theological reflection on the books.

Altered photo of a letter from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, released March 12 by Vatican Secretariat of Communications. (Credit: Vatican Media)

The series is published by Libreria Editrice Vaticana, the Vatican publishing house overseen by the Secretariat.

“I applaud this initiative which is intended to oppose and react to the foolish prejudice according to which Pope Francis would be only a practical man devoid of particular theological or philosophical formation, while I would be solely a theoretician of theology who could understand little of the concrete life of a Christian today,” Benedict wrote.

“The little volumes demonstrate, rightly so, that Pope Francis is a man of profound philosophical and theological formation, and they therefore help in seeing the interior continuity between the two pontificates, albeit with all the differences of style and temperament.”

The Pope Emeritus then added, “Nonetheless, I do not feel that I can write a brief and dense theological page about them because for my whole life it has always been clear that I would write and express myself only on books that I had also truly read. 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. I am sure that you will understand, and I extend to you my cordial greeting.”

Though it was written in early February, the letter was not released by the Secretariat for Communications until mid-March when the book series was released, on the eve of the anniversary of Pope Francis’ election as Bishop of Rome.

The secretariat’s press release quoted portions of the letter praising the booklets, but did not include Benedict’s admission that he has not read them in full.

The prefect of the communications secretariat, Monsignor Dario Viganò, read portions of Benedict’s letter at the press conference, “including the lines that were blurred out”, the AP reports. The portion of the letter which was blurred out is the beginning of Benedict’s explanation that he has not in fact read all the volumes which were sent him.

Msgr. Viganò, who was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Milan, has been prefect of the Secretariat for Communications since that office was established in June 2015.

Full story at Catholic News Agency.


  1. Anonymous says:

    I don’t trust this pontiff nor his minions anymore. Now we have Cardinal Kasper astonishingly and ludicrously saying that same-sex unions can be analogous to marriage, flatly contradicting settled doctrine and recent instructions, including by Pope Francis.

    Drain the Vatican swamp. Drain the Catholic swamp all around the world.

    • Anonymous says:

      Only read the headline right?
      What do you think analogous means?
      How would that contradict doctrine?
      “The pope does not leave room for doubt over the fact that civil marriages, de facto unions, new marriages following a divorce (Amoris Laetitia 291) and unions between homosexual persons (Amoris Laetitia 250s.) do not correspond to the Christian conception of marriage,” writes Kasper in a recently-released book on Amoris Laetitia.

      • Anonymous says:

        Amoris Laetitia states in paragraph 251, “‘as for proposals to place unions between homosexual persons on the same level as marriage, there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar OR EVEN REMOTELY ANALOGOUS to God’s plan for marriage and family.’” Francis quotes a 2003 document of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.

    • Anonymous says:

      Here’s the part that a website is taking out of context:
      “He says, however, that some of these partners can realize in a partial and analogous way some elements in Christian marriage (Amoris Laetitia 292),” continues Kasper.
      Kasper compares such relationships with the relationship between the Catholic Church and non-Catholic Christian groups, whom Vatican II says contain “elements of sanctification and truth” of the Church.
      “Just as outside the Catholic Church there are elements of the true Church, in the above-mentioned unions there can be elements present of Christian marriage, although they do not completely fulfill, or do not yet completely fulfill, the ideal,” adds Kasper.

  2. Anonymous says:

    If something is analogous to something else, it means they are not the same thing. It means they might share a characteristic so that they can be compared.
    Marriage- one man and one woman, permanent, exclusive, for purpose of having and raising children, joined in the sacrament of matrimony.
    Same sex unions could share the permanent and exclusive, and raising children characteristics only. They can have a child which is biologically related to one person in the couple. But this is sinful.

    • Anonymous says:

      No, same-sex unions cannot be considered analogous to marriage because SSUs lack every essential component of marriage, two of which are complementarity and fecundity.

      SSUs are not complementary, nor can they be fecund. They are a type of friendship, not analogous to marriage. They mock marriage by invalidly mimicking it.

    • bohemond says:

      Same sex unions are evil

  3. Guys cut Francis some slack!
    He is trying to build a bridge with China.
    What better way than Marxist Maoist–style photo editing!

  4. drewelow says:

    it must be asked if francis is really in charge of everything that goes out under him? were his staffers really that desperate to have something good to say on his 5th anniversary that they produced ‘fake news’ just to keep their jobs? after all the money spent ‘rebranding’ and merging media functions, etc, how can it be going so wrong?

    • Anonymous says:

      I doubt he even knew about it. The news was not fake but it was against journalistic standards because a photo was altered. It also blurred out important information which was that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI had not read the volumes.
      The quotes by him about the prejudice against both him and Pope Francis are important and it is too bad that the poor judgement of a photo editor is taking away from that.

  5. Michael McDermott says:

    But Wait – There’s More
    Vatican Hires High-Powered Law Firm to Take Down Independent Catholic Website
    InfoVaticana, a small Catholic news portal… received a letter from Baker & McKenzie, the second largest law firm in the world, demanding that InfoVaticana transfer its domain ( to the Vatican Secretariat of State.

    InfoVaticana = “a free and independent media that has the vocation to serve the Catholic Church and society.” It’s stated mission is to “deepen the denunciation of Christianophobia and the corruption that the Church uses, the rejection of the totalitarian impositions of the powerful LGBT lobby…

  6. Anonymous says:

    The entire letter has now been released. Scroll to the end to see it:

  7. St. Christopher says:

    Such efforts are SOP for totalitarian governments. Altered photos and written evidence, planted evidence, and camouflaged commission of crimes (e.g., the Nazi’s screaming that Communists burned the Reichstag, when we all know who did it), are all things used throughout history to distort truth and justify the irregular transfer of power. Liberals in the Vatican and throughout the Church simply hate Catholic Tradition and the True Faith. They are intent on creating a NewChurch with made-up rules, teachings, and requirements. Nothing new here.

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