It looks like 2019 is going to be the year the Catholic Church goes viral.
With the rise of hipster megachurches, celebs like Hailey and Justin Bieber making worship a date-night activity, and the Kardashians sharing their Sunday services on the ‘gram, Christianity is having a moment both online and IRL, and it was only a matter of time before the big man himself joined in. (From Pontifex to Pontiflex, amiright?)
And TBH, he’s the internet sensation we never knew we needed (Sorry, James Middleton!).
On January 26, the Pontiff tweeted straight from his drafts folder into our hearts, finally weighing in on the *biggest* conversation of our time: Influencers—with a biblical twist, of course. “With her “yes”, Mary became the most influential woman in history,” he tweeted, referring to the Virgin Mary. “Without social networks, she became the first “influencer”: the “influencer” of God. #Panama2019.”
With her “yes”, Mary became the most influential woman in history. Without social networks, she became the first “influencer”: the “influencer” of God. #Panama2019
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) January 27, 2019
The Pontifex’s iconic hot take came on the heels of his appearance at a vigil for World Youth Day in Panama City, where he gave a speech urging young people to chase their dreams. In the same speech, his Holiness again broached the topic of influencers, telling the crowd that to be an influencer today means to be, “guardians of roots, guardians of all that prevents our life from dissipating and evaporating into nothingness,” according to Crux Now, a Catholic news organization. That’s not exactly how I’d characterize the Kardashians, but to each their own.
Having *finally* waded in to the world of Gen Z with his viral tweet, we’re fully ready for the head of the church to take his rightful place as the head of social media, by conquering the ‘gram. The padre is no stranger to Insta, but his Pontifex-verified account leaves much to be desired. Below, everything we want to see from social media’s newest star.
The best paninis in Vatican City
There’s no question that Rome is the*perfect* locale for a #foodstagram (pizza! pasta! gelato!), but TBH those are all trash in comparison to Vatican City’s world famous paninis.
There is legit no scientific evidence to back this up and no one has ever claimed that they have the best paninis, but while on a grade 10 school trip I had the greatest panini of my young life at a small restaurant just outside the Vatican. Do I remember the name? No. Do I remember what was in said panini? Nope. Is any of this helpful for anyone who may want to find the best panini in the world? Not at all, but there’s Trip Advisor for that. Still, it happened, and I can’t get that panini out of my head. A quick search of “Vatican City paninis” shows that I’m not alone. There are a lot of searches and reviews for this delicious delicacy, which makes me *very* confident in stating that the panini is the official food of Vatican City.
With that in mind, and under the assumption that His Holiness has snuck out of the Vatican for a pesto smeared sandwich or two (or maybe he’s into Uber Eats?), what could be better than some regularly updated flat-lays of these beloved sandwiches. If #foodporn is good enough for Blake Lively and Martha Stewart, it’s definitely good enough for the Pope! Of course, the Pontiff would need to come up with an apt hashtag. May we suggest #PontifexPaninis?
His favourite Pope-related Halloween costumes
— White House Archived (@ObamaWhiteHouse) October 30, 2015
TBH this is such a missed opportunity! There’s arguably nothing people love more than a good, Halloween-themed costume roundup. Forget Kourtney Kardashian as Ariana Grande, we need—and frankly deserve—a roundup from His Holiness of the best Pope-related Halloween costumes. Who better to judge and rank them than the man himself? Extra points for creativity, and *all* of the points if it’s a Lil’ Pope.
A collab with Lil Miquela
Nothing says ‘hip’ like a collab, and nothing says understanding the youth like a collaboration with one of the world’s most popular, up-and-coming robot influencers. Yes, you read that correctly. Lil Miquela is a 19-year-old Brazilian-American influencer and pop singer with over 1.5 million Instagram followers—and she’s also completely fake. The CGI influencer, who has partnered with big name brands like Prada, was created by LA-based creative agency Brud. And at this point, posing with her on the ‘gram is an A-list right of passage (just don’t ask us how this works, exactly).
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Each time I’m asked in an interview who I look up to, I always answer with @traceeellisross . So after the 27th time giving that answer, I finally got to meet the ICON herself! 😭😭😭 She’s even more beautiful and radiant than I ever imagined. I stopped by during her AMA rehearsals this morning (she’s HOSTING!!), and we chatted for a few. She has so much wisdom, but really caught my attention when she said “More compassion, less judgment.” Ummmm….🤯 I’ve spent the past few weeks (…maybe months), throwing shade at Blawko and Bermuda, all for what? Passive-aggressiveness is NOT 👏🏽 CUTE 👏🏽. If you think that tomorrow I will completely turn my act around, show more compassion and be accepting of Blawko and Bermuda because Tracee said so, then you are 1000% right. Check out (my Fairy Godmother) Tracee host the American Music Awards TOMORROW at 8PM EST (NOT SPONSORED, JUST OBSESSED).
For those thinking a partnership between the 19-year-old robot and the Pope would be *super* random, they’d actually have a lot to talk about. Like the Pontiff, Miquela is an activist. As Brud explains on their website, they’re a transmedia studio that creates digital characters and “story worlds” (what?) “that have the power to introduce marginalized ideas” and that “can create a more tolerant world by leveraging cultural understanding and technology.” In her Insta bio Miquela has links to various causes such as The Innocence Project, the Los Angeles Downtown Women’s Center and LGBT Life Center. We stan a do-gooder collab.
His “following” count go above zero
The Pope is a fan of Mary, but when it comes to his social media strategy, the Pontiff has taken a cue from another influential woman: Beyoncé. The Pontifex joins the singer on a short list of “people so famous they literally follow no one on Instagram” (other members include: Oprah, Adele and Kerry Washington). It’s an illustrious list; these women legit need no inspiration or envy-inducing posts on their grid, their existences alone are inspiration enough. But, we’d be lying if we didn’t admit that we’re the slightest bit curious about *who* would garner a “follow” from the Pope himself.
Could he, with a follow of his own, finally break Queen Bey’s Insta ice out, enticing the songstress to inch her follow count from 0 to 1?
Or maybe he already follows them on his Finsta account. Because, if there were ever a case for having one, His Holiness fits the bill. Maybe, like HRH Meghan Markle, he uses it to stay in touch with friends and creep photos of avocado toast, or, like Kendall Jenner, uses it to check up on his exes.
More acceptance—and acknowledgment of responsibility— on the ‘gram and IRL
When it comes to leaders of the church, Pope Francis has been lauded for his perceived progressiveness. He’s taken a more welcoming stance on LGBTQ people and marriage than his predecessors, making headlines in 2013 when he said, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” and later in 2018 for reportedly telling a gay man “God made you like this and loves you like this.” He’s also taken a firm (and science-based) stance on climate change, and has asked for more acceptance within the church of those who are divorced.
We need only to take a frank look at the facts to see that our common home is falling into serious disrepair. #LaudatoSi
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) June 18, 2015
The pontiff is no stranger to sharing his thoughts on these issues to the ‘gram, always alongside an image of himself and some inspirational words or hashtags.
But, like most of our Insta faves, we’d love to see more than just a cohesive feed. Namely, we’d love to see more action—both on and off the Pope’s Insta grid. Because these statements may be a big deal for the Catholic Church, but the institution still has a ways to go. When we consider its stance on abortion (a “grave sin,” apparently), the way it has downplayed sexual abuse within the church and the Pope’s recent refusal to apologize to Indigenous peoples for the role of the Catholic Church in Canada’s residential school system, the Pontifex goes from our social media fave to *very* debatable.
Wow a PontiFlex
— Camilla Blackett (@camillard) January 27, 2019
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