FAKE NEWS | No, Pope Francis is not cancelling the Bible

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
The Bible
The Bible
Stephen Morton, Getty Images
  • Pope Francis has not 'cancelled' the Bible to create a new book. 
  • This fake claim first appeared on a satirical website in 2018.
  • If the claim were accurate, news of the Bible's cancellation would have been widely reported across the world.

Pope Francis, the global head of the Catholic church, has "cancelled the Bible and proposes to create a new book", claim several messages shared on Facebook and WhatsApp.

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It reports that the pope had deemed the Bible "outdated".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 were 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". 

This report was written by Africa Check, a nonpartisan fact-checking organisation. View the original piece on their website.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Zama zama crackdown: What are your thoughts on West Village residents taking the law into their own hands?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Authorities should bring in the army already
11% - 2604 votes
Illegal miners can't be scapegoated for all crime
51% - 12688 votes
What else did we expect without no proper policing
35% - 8533 votes
Vigilante groups are also part of the problem
3% - 843 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.