Fact check: Pope Francis was not arrested, video of Rome motorcade dates to September 2020

A video on social media shows a motorcade of black vehicles which some users claim shows the arrest of Pope Francis. This is false: a longer version of the video has been circulating since September 2020 and appears to show a security brigade for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a visit to Italy.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

An iteration visible here   includes a voiceover that asks what is going on in Italy, saying “They’ve got blackouts, the Pope is being arrested with child pornography”.  

Reuters previously debunked the false claim that Pope Francis was arrested and that there was a “blackout” in the Vatican,  here .

A longer version of this footage was posted by the Italian website Dagospia on Sept. 30, 2020 ( here ), saying it shows a motorcade for Pompeo on his way to meet Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte at the Chigi Palace in Rome.

The longer, better quality footage visible on Dagospia captures the motorcade entering Via Tritone from Via del Traforo in the Italian capital (see the “Absente” sign around timestamp 0:54 and Google street view here!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sMjVmRXaaW0GL92Cq-xoJcw!2e0!7i16384!8i8192 ).

Reuters could not verify the source of the video, but footage from Italian news outlet Corriere della Sera shows a different angle that confirms it is the same motorcade ( here ).

The order of the vehicles is almost the same in both clips: the caravan starts with police motorcycles (five in the Corriere footage, two in the Dagospia), followed by two blue police cars, a black Volkswagen van, a white van, a black car, and then a group of black vans (10 in Corriere’s footage, 9 in Dagospia’s footage), followed by more automobiles. A distinctive black Audi van that carries a rooftop box can be seen in both videos.

Photographs of the motorcade at Via Tritone are visible  here   and  here  .

As reported by Reuters here at the time, Pompeo was on a four-day visit to Italy and held talks with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Conte. Reuters footage of Pompeo and Conte’s meeting on Sept. 30 can be seen  here  .


False. The video shows a security motorcade for U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a visit to Rome in September 2020.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here   .