Selfies with the Pope


4 Aug 2015
Last week we were fortunate enough to be visited by Pope Francis. Although he was not able to be with us in person, we had a creative substitute in the form of a life size cardboard cut-out. Students were encouraged to ‘meet’ him at various locations around the College during lunchtimes and with supervision take a selfie on their laptop or an iPad from the ILC.
On the surface this may seem questionable, maybe even disrespectful. After all he is the Pope.
However, he is a different kind of Pope to all those who have gone before him. In fact he started the trend himself when in 2013 at St Peters Basilica he posed with students from Piacenza for a selfie.
While this opened the doors to young people through social media, it has done so much more to enable to Church to connect readily with others and bring the Gospel to life in the world.
Pope Francis has spoken openly and directly about almost every issue within the Church and in society.
He constantly challenges us to be like Christ and accept those who are forgotten or rejected.
He has called a special synod to determine how families, divorced and otherwise, may be supported and included holistically within the Church as an institution.
He encourages us to acknowledge our own failings and seek forgiveness.
He has broken with many practices that have created isolation and distance from society.
He has travelled widely, spreading the Gospel to all nations and cultures.
He has personally called many people who have written to him and offered his love and prayers.
He has mediated numerous international disputes, and through the common language of prayer has bought the Israeli and Palestinian governments closer together.
He has repeatedly rejected careerism within the clergy. He has washed the feet of prisoners in jails and has invited the homeless to dine at the Sistine Chapel.
Soon after his election in March 2013 at a meeting with journalists he said, ‘How I long for a poor Church for the poor!’. He has maintained this outlook and each day through his faith and example brings us ever closer to that goal.
Pope Francis is unique, as he can articulate the message and connect with people of all nations.
He offers the world five Christ-like virtues that are changing how the world thinks: humility, love, commitment, faith and hope.
I am very proud of the excitement that the ‘visit by the Pope’ bought about in our school community.
Furthermore, I am encouraged that so many students made the time to come over and take a selfie with Pope Francis.
What better statement of Catholic identity could be made by a teenager today than to have a photo with the Pope in their album?
Brendan Nicholls is the liturgy coordinator at St Ignatius, Geelong.
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