Fact Check: Did the Vatican Invest in the Film 'Rocketman' About Elton John?

The Vatican announced its refusal to bless same-sex marriages in a new decree on Monday that reaffirms the Catholic Church's historical stance on homosexuality.

"The blessing of homosexual unions cannot be considered licit," the statement said, in part.

Shortly after the news, Grammy award-winning and self-proclaimed "flamboyant superstar" Elton John took to Twitter to point out what he called the hypocrisy of the Vatican's decree.

The Claim

"How can the Vatican refuse to bless gay marriages because they 'are sin', yet happily make a profit from investing millions in 'Rocketman' - a film which celebrates my finding happiness from my marriage to David?? #hypocrisy @VaticanNews @Pontifex," the singer wrote Monday afternoon in a tweet that had garnered more than 12,000 likes and 3,000 retweets by the time of publication.

How can the Vatican refuse to bless gay marriages because they “are sin”, yet happily make a profit from investing millions in “Rocketman” - a film which celebrates my finding happiness from my marriage to David?? #hypocrisy@VaticanNews @Pontifex pic.twitter.com/sURtrWB6Nd

— Elton John (@eltonofficial) March 15, 2021

The Facts

Rocketman is a 2019 biopic about the origin of John's musical stardom and was heralded by the Hollywood Reporter as the first film from a major studio to include a gay male sex scene.

John's claims about the Vatican's investment in Rocketman were first reported by the Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera in December 2019.

The paper wrote that the Vatican invested more than 4 million euros (roughly 4.3 million euros), or about $5.1 million, into the production of Rocketman and Men In Black: International. A graphic showed roughly 1 million euros, about $1.2 million, went toward Rocketman, and 3.3 million euros, about $3.9 million, went toward Men In Black: International.

"Their investment has been widely reported in many credible news outlets including the Financial Times," a spokesperson for Elton John told Newsweek on Monday. "Aside from that, we are not able to comment any further."

The Vatican's investment in the two films is tied to Centurion Global Fund in Malta, which had raised more than 70 million euros and received at least two-thirds of its funding from the Vatican's Secretariat of State department, according to Corriere della Sera's 2019 report.

Corriere della Sera reported that some of the many investments made by the Vatican, along with its investment in Rocketman, came from donations made to the Peter's Pence collection offered to the Vatican by members of the Catholic Church.

"The offerings of the faithful are intended to support the activities of the Holy Father for the whole Universal Church," the webpage for Peter's Pence says. The donations help finance acts of service and material assistance by the Vatican.

The Vatican did not respond to Newsweek in time for publication.

Rocketman had an estimated budget of about $40 million, according to IMDb.

The Ruling

True.

The Vatican invested about 1 million euros, an estimated $1.2 million, in Rocketman.

elton john david furnish
Elton John and husband David Furnish at the May 20, 2019, premiere of "Rocketman" in London. Neil Mockford/Getty