Holy See officials say the pope does not run his own accounts, and he was not responsible for clicking the photo. They’ve also rejected the possibility that one of his social media managers might have clicked the image, and have instead blamed Instagram for the incident.
The Vatican is currently investigating the incident.
The passion of the click has been playing out since Nov. 13, when eagle-eyed observers noticed the pope’s account had hit “like” on a racy post by Brazilian model Natalia Garibotto. The like was revoked the following day, according to the Catholic News Agency (CNA).
The photo depicted Garibotto in a revealing school girl-type outfit featuring a crop top, kilt and stockings. It’s unclear when the so-called “thirst trap” snared a like from the papal account, but the post was originally put up on Oct. 5.
Garibotto is a Twitch performer and OnlyFans model with 2.4 million followers on Instagram. Her posts routinely rack up tens of thousands of likes and a few hundred comments, but the pope-related photo appears to have attracted extra attention. The post has received more than 6,000 comments to date.
Garibotto celebrated the seemingly immaculate Instagram like on her Twitter account.
“At least I’m going to heaven,” she joked.
Her management company, COY Co., also embraced the incident for a bit of marketing attention.
“Coy Co. has received the POPE’S OFFICIAL BLESSING thanks to our iconic queen @nataagataa,” the company wrote on its Instagram page.
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“We can exclude that the ‘like’ came from the Holy See, and it has turned to Instagram for explanations,” a Vatican spokesperson told The Guardian.
“We are studying what happened with the help of the competent office at Instagram,” the Vatican told NBC News in a separate statement.
Close observers of the pope say it’s very unlikely that he would be personally responsible for the flub.
“The pope is not like Donald Trump. He’s not sitting around using his phone or computer to tweet all day long,” Robert Mickens, English editor of the Catholic daily newspaper La Croix, told The Guardian.
“He does, for example, approve the tweets — but not the likes — and on very rare occasions he has said he would like to tweet something because of a developing situation or emergency. So he would have nothing to do with this.”
Mickens said such a mistake would likely fall on the communications department. “How this happens … who knows,” he said.
The pope apparently does not know — but perhaps the Big Guy above him does.
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