Pope selfies used to be a novelty. Now, it looks like they'll never stop.
This week, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI participated in what were apparently his first two selfies -- at least that we know of. At the same time, Manila residents have been taking selfies with a cardboard cutout of Pope Francis, months before the Pontiff visits the Philippines. The cutouts were distributed by church-run Radio Veritas to generate "Papal fever."
Even though Francis has said that he believes "many young people waste too much time in useless things" (including, he said, "chatting on the Internet or with your mobile phone"), the pope has clearly embraced the practice of taking informal pictures with fans and members of his flock.
Although some would argue that none of the photos mentioned in this post are true selfies, the term has stuck. Whether the pope has his finger on the phone or not seems to matter less than the juxtaposition of an informal portrait associated with #teens with the stature of the head of the Catholic Church.
Here is the definitive ranking of papal selfies, from worst to #blessed.
The polite selfie
Filipino politician Rodolfo Castro Fariñas posted the "selfie of his life" with Pope Francis in April, while visiting the Vatican for the canonization of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XIII. On the surface, this is a pretty good selfie: It's somewhat in focus. Francis is smiling. It's kind of a combo selfie/photobomb.
But Fariñas loses a lot of points for the way in which he took it -- by interrupting a conversation between Mercedes Tuason, ambassador to the Holy See, and Francis, stretching his arm right across their line of sight to snap the photo with his phone. Francis, it seems, continued his conversation with the ambassador (who does not appear in the photo) while the politician took the shot.
The long-distance selfie
This is cheating. And terrible.
— BBCPanorama (@BBCPanorama) April 2, 2014
— Eugenie Bouchard (@geniebouchard) May 14, 2014
The lost selfies
There are tons of Pope Francis selfies out there that few people have seen. How do we know? A flip through photo archives of the pontiff's travels shows the pictures in action, like this one:
Maybe some of these are wonderful. But we just can't be sure. Readers, if you have a pope selfie, please send it to The Washington Post, and we would be happy to judge it for you.
The journalist selfie
— franca giansoldati (@francagiansol) May 24, 2014
This selfie, taken on the way to the Holy Land for a visit, is notable for the pope's good game face. Apparently, he was suffering from a cold on the way to the Middle East. He took some selfies anyway.
The Pope Benedict selfies
Although there are two known Benedict selfies in existence, they were taken at the same time and look very similar. So we've lumped them in as one entry
This is being billed as "first ever #selfie with #PopeBenedict." Taken by an Italian seminarian, Giuseppe Ricciardi pic.twitter.com/cF4RIAtnd3 — Catholic News Svc (@CatholicNewsSvc) September 12, 2014
The wedding selfie
Two newlyweds present at one of the pope's weekly general audiences at the Vatican managed to snag the following:
The first selfie, with #teens
This will forever and always be the best pope selfie, because these teens got in on the idea before it was a cool thing that fans of the cool pope did to be cool. The photo at the very top of this post shows the first Pope Francis selfie in action; the picture below is the actual selfie.
So there you have it, the best papal selfie.
Honestly, though? We'd rather see Francis commit to taking more pictures with animals: