Did the Vatican Invest in ‘Rocketman’? Elton John Slammed the Church for Its ‘Hypocrisy’

The Vatican denounced gay marriage on Monday, March 15, and Elton John is having none of it. The singer called The Vatican’s stance on same-sex marriage hypocritical because of its reported investment in John’s biopic Rocketman. The biopic tells the story of his life and career, and it was the first major studio film to include a sex scene between two gay men. But did The Vatican really invest in Rocketman?

Sir Elton John in a purple coat and purple, starred sunglasses (L), and Pope Francis in a white robe with black and gold embellishments (R) | Marc Piasecki/Vatican Pool/Getty Images
Sir Elton John (L), and Pope Francis (R) | Marc Piasecki/Vatican Pool/Getty Images

Elton John’s ‘Rocketman’ biopic was controversial in other countries

Rocketman came out on May 16, 2019 to much praise, especially for Taron Egerton’s performance. Egerton won a Golden Globe for the film. John and his lifelong writing partner, Bernie Taupin (whom the film is also about), won an Oscar for the original song they created for the project, “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again.”

While the biopic was beloved in the United States, it was banned in multiple countries and censored in others for its positive portrayal of gay relationships.

Egerton called out Russia’s decision to cut out all of the scenes depicting men kissing and having sex from the movie on Instagram. Now, John is defending the film against the Pope himself.

The Vatican denounced gay marriage in a statement on March 15

On Monday, The Vatican’s orthodoxy office issued a reply to a question it received about same-sex marriage. Pope Francis had previously said the LGBTQ+ community were “children of God” in a documentary that premiered in October 2020.

“Homosexual people have a right to be in the family,” he said in the film. “They are children of God. They have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out of the family or made miserable over this. What we have to make is a law of civil coexistence, for they have the right to be legally covered. I stood up for that.”

The March 15 statement added a caveat to that sentiment, barring Catholic churches from blessing same-sex unions.

“The blessing of homosexual unions cannot be considered licit,” the statement said, adding “there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.” It continued:

“He does not and cannot bless sin. He blesses sinful man, so that he may recognize that he is part of his plan of love and allow himself to be changed by him. … The Church does not have, and cannot have, the power to bless unions of persons of the same sex.”


Why Elton John Cried In These 4 ‘Rocketman’ Scenes

Who funded ‘Rocketman’?

The statement prompted a slew of responses from the LGBTQ+ community on social media. John contributed to the discourse on Tuesday, March 16. He tweeted:

“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.”

John cited a report from The Daily Beast in his response that detailed the Vatican’s reported investment. According to The Daily Beast, the Pope’s “Peter’s Pence” charity invested $4.5 million total into Rocketman and Men in Black: International. The charity collects donations from members of the church globally, and it’s intended to give money to the poor.

Given that, investing in entertainment seems like an odd expenditure. It’s even more curious when considering the fact that the Vatican is anti-gay marriage. The Vatican told The Daily Beast that an investigation was being launched into the spending.

According to Newsweek, Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera shared a graphic in December 2019 showing how much the Vatican invested in Rocketman. It reportedly gave 1 million euros, which is about $1.2 million.

A representative for John commented on the investment to Newsweek.

“Their investment has been widely reported in many credible news outlets including the Financial Times,” the source said. “Aside from that, we are not able to comment any further.”

According to the outlet, reports of the Vatican’s investment in the film are true, making John’s statement even more powerful.