The Vatican is probing how Pope Francis's official Instagram account liked a raunchy photo of a scantily clad Brazilian model and has sought an explanation from the Facebook-owned photo-sharing app.
It is unclear when the photo of the model and influencer Natalia Garibotto came to be liked by the Pope's verified account, @franciscus, but the "like" was reportedly still visible on November 13 before being unliked the very next day, the Catholic News Agency (CAN) reported.
Pope's several social media accounts are managed by a team of staffers.
The post shared by Garibotto features her in revealing, schoolgirl-style lingerie captioned with a devil horn emoji and a suggestive line: "I can teach you a thing or two."
After CAN reported on the scandal on November 14 and asked the Holy See to comment on it, the like was removed.
Meanwhile, Garibotto's management company, COY Co, made the most of the hype and publicity from the scandal and reposted the image on its own official Instagram account last Friday, saying it had "received the Pope's official blessing."
Garibotto, is also reported to have jokingly said: "at least I am going to heaven."
At least I'm going to heaven https://t.co/w3nMYWVR6T— Natalia Garibotto (@NataaGataa) November 13, 2020
Quoting sources close to the Vatican's press office, CAN reported that a probe was underway to ascertain how her Instagram photo came to be liked.
Pope Francis enjoys immense popularity across social media. His official Instagram account has 7.4 million followers, while he is followed by 18.8 million followers on Twitter.
The Pope rarely composes the content of his social media accounts but approves them all, not the likes though.
He also rarely plans his social media posts except on occasions when he expresses his wish to tweet something about an emergency or a developing situation.