Pope Francis has his picture taken inside St. Peter's Basilica with youth from the Italian Diocese of Piacenza and Bobbio on Aug. 28, 2013. (L'Osservatore Romano file via Associated Press)

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."


A woman poses in front of a cardboard cutout of Pope Francis at the Catholic radio station in suburban Manila on Sept. 12. (Jay Directo/AFP)

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.

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:


Pope Francis poses during a meeting with youth at the Solmoe Sanctuary in South Korea on Aug. 15. (Ahn Young-joon/Associated Press pool)

Pope Francis smiles for the cameras during a lunch meeting at a major seminary in South Korea on Aug. 15. (L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

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

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

 

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:


Pope Francis gets a lamb placed around his neck as he visits a living nativity scene staged at the St. Alfonso Maria de' Liguori parish church. (L'Osservatore Romano via Associated Press)