Vatican investigates papal “like” of barely-clad Brazilian

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FILE – In this Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020 file photo, Pope Francis puts on his face mask as he attends an inter-religious ceremony for peace in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli, in Rome Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020. Pope Francis’ decision to forego wearing a face mask has been noticed, with some concern, by the commission of Vatican experts he appointed to help chart the Catholic Church’s path through the coronavirus pandemic and the aftermath. The Rev. Augusto Zampini, one of the key members of the pope’s COVID-19 commission, acknowledged Tuesday that at age 83 and with part of his lung removed, Francis would be at high risk for complications if he were to become infected with COVID-19. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, File)

ROME (AP) — The Vatican is investigating how Pope Francis’ official Instagram account “liked” a photo of a scantily-clad Brazilian model.

A Vatican official said Friday the “like” didn’t originate from the Holy See, and as such, the Vatican was working “in close connection” with Instagram to get to the bottom of who liked the photo.

Francis’ official Instagram account, which has the username “franciscus,” has 7.4 million followers, but doesn’t follow anyone. Earlier this month, franciscus was shown as having “liked” a photo of Natalia Garibotto, a Brazilian model whose Instagram account features dozens of photos of her in thong bikinis and provocative poses.

In the photo liked by franciscus, she is dressed as an apparent schoolgirl, wearing a short tartan miniskirt and white garter stockings leaning up against a school locker.

The purported papal endorsement generated smirks and jokes on social media. Late Friday, it even caught the eye of director Paolo Sorrentino, whose “The Young Pope” and “The New Pope” television series have depicted a fictionalized Vatican where Garibotto’s poses might not be so out of place.

“It wasn’t me,” Sorrentino quoted one of his most beloved characters, the fictional Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Voiello, as saying in an Instagram post of his own. The accompanying photo showed Voiello clutching his cellphone, dressed in full liturgical garb.

Francis has a robust social media presence, with his Twitter account @Pontifex tweeting out daily prayers in a variety of languages.

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