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Video shows Biden telling Pope Francis a story about Satchel Paige

October 29, 2021 GMT


CLAIM: Video shows President Joe Biden telling Pope Francis, “You’re the famous African-American baseball player.”

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. In the full video clip released by the Vatican, Biden was telling Pope Francis a parable about aging, where he referenced American baseball player Satchel Paige, a Black pitcher who played the sport late into his 50s.

THE FACTS: On Friday, Biden met with the pope face to face at the Vatican. Though he had met Francis three times, this was Biden’s first time meeting him as president.

Social media users shared a clip of Biden speaking to Francis with the false claim that it showed the president telling the pope he was a Black baseball player.

“Joe Biden after 75 mins of meeting with Pope ‘You’re the famous African-American base ball player in America,’” a Twitter user wrote, misspelling baseball. The post had more than 3,000 retweets. The false post also circulated on Instagram.

But Biden, 78, was telling a story to Francis, 84, about aging, and how Paige had played baseball late into his life. In a video released by the Vatican, Biden states: “There’s a famous African American baseball player in America.”

Biden quoted Paige as saying, “’How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?”

The private meeting between the two lasted about 75 minutes, according to the Vatican. Biden said that Francis told him he was a “good Catholic” and to continue taking Communion. However, conservatives are calling for him to be denied the sacrament because of his support for abortion rights, The Associated Press reported.

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This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.