The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

All you kids and your selfie requests are making the pope feel old

In this file photo Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013 Pope Francis has his picture taken inside St. Peter’s Basilica with youths from the Italian Diocese of Piacenza and Bobbio who came to Rome for a pilgrimage, at the Vatican, Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/L’Osservatore Romano, File)

Pope Francis, age 78, has become one of the most desired group selfie participants on the planet. Everywhere he goes, it seems, the faithful want the pope to stop and smile for a photo with a cellphone camera perched at the end of an outstretched arm. Well, you guys, all those requests are making the pope feel old.

A reporter asked Pope Francis about the selfie requests on a Sunday night flight back from South America. He responded that the selfies make him feel like a “grandfather,” adding that the requests come from, to him “another culture.”

According to a transcript published on Monday by the Catholic News Agency, here is the exchange:

Journalist: What do you think of people taking selfies at Mass, which young people and children want to take with you?
Pope Francis: What do I think of it? I feel like a grandfather! It’s another culture. Today as I was taking leave (from Asuncion), a policeman in his 40’s asked me for a selfie! I told him, listen, you’re a teenager! It’s another culture – I respect it.

[A brief list of pope selfies, ranked]

Pope Francis was speaking during a lengthy news conference aboard the papal plane, where he discussed a range of questions. Among other things, the pope promised to read up on the words of his American critics before his planned September visit to the United States, and said that he was taking that controversial hammer and sickle crucifix he received as a gift in Bolivia back to the Vatican with him.

The pope has also, on at least one occasion, granted selfie requests from the journalists who travel with him on the plane:

There were also plenty of requests during his South America trip, as evidenced by this photo:

Not everyone even asks the pope before putting him in the frame of a selfie:

[This post has been updated to include a transcript of the pope’s response]