Fact Check: No, Pope Francis hasn’t endorsed Biafran secession from Nigeria

A report on website Jamyco claims Pope Francis, the global leader of the Roman Catholic church, has endorsed the secession of south-east Nigeria as the independent country of Biafra.

Under the headline, “Just in: Pope Francis finally endorse Biafra”, the report claims the pope said the region’s secession would end conflict in the country. It’s been shared on Facebook and published on another website.

“The Christian leader worldwide, Pope Francis said that the killings in Nigeria is out of hand, many Christians have lost their lives in the name of religion and politics,” the article reads. 

“I suggest that the only way out of all these killings is to let Easterners go and become a nation, so that they can freely practice their Christianity. According to Biafra newspaper today, Pope said eastern region is a Christian Nation.”

Photo from 2018

A reverse image search on Yandex shows that the photo of Pope Francis used in the article has featured in many reports about the pontiff.

Pope Francis
Pope Francis

An article published on 3 December 2018 says the photo was taken two days earlier at a conference at the Vatican, the headquarters of the Catholic church in Rome, Italy. We didn’t find any earlier use of the photo on the internet.

Pope addressed Biafran activists in 2016

According to reports by the Vanguard newspaper, thousands of Biafran activists from Europe, Asia and the Americas visited Pope Francis at the Vatican in March 2016.

The pope reportedly addressed and prayed for them during his weekly Angelus address from the balcony of the Apostolic Palace in St Peter’s Square.

This is the only known mention of Biafra by Pope Francis. There is no evidence on the Vatican’s official website that the pope has made recent comments on Biafra or endorsed its secession. – Allwell Okpi 

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