Pope Francis was hospitalized in Rome this week to receive treatment for a respiratory infection. Yet according to the internet, the entire incident could’ve been avoided had the pontiff simply worn the AI-generated puffer coat that took the digital world by storm last week.
On Wednesday, the Vatican announced that the 86-year-old religious leader had recently been admitted to the hospital after experiencing “respiratory difficulties.” Tests determined that a respiratory infection, which was unrelated to COVID-19, was the cause.
As Catholics offered prayers and well wishes to Pope Francis, users on social media pointed to the AI-generated image that fooled millions into believing that the Bishop of Rome had recently worn a hip jacket.
“The pope got sick because he went outside without wearing the huge AI generated puffer coat,” one user joked.
The image, created by a 31-year-old construction worker from the Chicago area who was under the influence of hallucinogenic mushrooms, depicted the pontiff in a white Balenciaga-esque puffy coat.
With the Pope’s illness happening shortly after the image was posted online, internet users quipped that the two events had to be linked.
“Look, I’m not saying that the pope wouldn’t be sick with a respiratory infection if he were actually wearing the puffy jacket, but the timing certainly is suspicious,” another added.
Ironically, at least some users appeared to genuinely believe that the fake image was the cause of the respiratory infection.
“That AI photo circulating probably sent the pope to the hospital,” a Twitter user said. “I know he’s old & old people can become prone to getting sick. So that might be it. But I also believe in energy & how it can be sent to people, good or bad. Call me crazy, but those are my thoughts! Bye.”
However, the majority of comments appeared to be in jest.
“The pope got sick because he didn’t wear that huge coat outside,” another said. “Simple as that.”
The Vatican stated on Thursday that the health of Pope Francis is “progressively improving,” allowing him to continue his work from the hospital.
It remains unknown whether the Pope will ultimately decide to appease the internet by purchasing a white puffer coat.