Twitter users are having a little too much fun with a meme of Pope Francis online. And while some are finding the trend hilarious, others are calling it disrespectful and inconsiderate at the same time.
The meme consists of four images posted to the platform. Each one shows Pope Francis holding different items or people up. Due to how Twitter’s posting works, the four photos make up one cohesive image for social media users to see as they scroll through their timelines.
— Dariel Atkins (@AtkinsDariel) October 18, 2020
Pope Francis is closing his eyes and holding up his arms towards the sky presenting an object. The fourth frame has been replaced with everything from funny tweets to drugs and movie posters.
Pretty cool how we can do this and nobody ends up beheaded for it 🤔 pic.twitter.com/ypHUBZB6LV
— Ahoy!⚓️ (@ahoy_desu) October 17, 2020
The meme originally started out as a harmless joke. However, some people who follow Catholicism do not find the trend funny and feel disrespected by it. This has caused fights and disagreements online between those with different religious beliefs.
just a little reminder that the pope francis memes can be offensive to some people
— maia (@maialovesyou_) October 19, 2020
Some users are going as far as accusing those who are making the meme of violating the first commandment. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states under paragraph 2120: “Sacrilege consists in profaning or treating unworthily the sacraments and other liturgical actions, as well as persons, things, or places consecrated to God. Sacrilege is a grave sin especially when committed against the Eucharist, for in this sacrament the true Body of Christ is made substantially present for us.”
Hi, i posted this elsewhere and as read it, these memes are a sin against the first commandment: pic.twitter.com/Rf8mYpAT9r
— Michael (@mj33096) October 18, 2020
One Twitter user responded to the meme with a screenshot of the statement above. Other users in the comments are confused why people are making the meme into a big deal.
this is my favourite Pope Francis meme pic.twitter.com/iL7bHfx4Om
— . (@cambaro_) October 18, 2020
Pope Francis has not addressed the meme publicly yet. However, many assume that he will not make any sort of statement on the matter. This is not the first time that the pope has been the subject of a viral meme. In fact, the photo that is being used currently was taken in 2013 and memes have been created using it prior to 2020.
why are people making weed and inappropriate memes out of Pope Francis …thats so disrespectful :/
— l a i l a ¨̮ d b (@lilouthenoodle) October 16, 2020
The original photo was taken in Brazil during Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady Aparecida. It is credited to a photographer named Buda Mendes and Getty Images. In the original photo, the pope is holding a wafer of sacramental bread for Holy Communion. The sacramental bread is meant to represent Christ’s body as part of the Eucharist or Holy Communion.
There are countless versions of the meme circulating the internet currently. Most are harmless, including the pope holding Baby Yoda. However, a small percentage of the Twitter population have used the meme as an opportunity to spread hate.
the c*tholic church will condemn the pope francis meme but not the most anti-christian values president we've ever had…
— kt (@ktweaves) October 19, 2020
While most memes are typically not controversial, this one has become a bit more tricky because of its’ religious aspect. The overwhelming majority see it as funny and are circulating the image for a good laugh. However, others simply do not find any humor behind the trend.
Another user, Simcha Fisher, stated the memes were “hurting Catholics.” She said, “I suppose people think it’s fine to mock Catholicism because pedo priests and other various grave scandals. Please understand that, when you mock the sacrament of the Eucharist, all you’re doing is hurting Catholics who have already been profoundly hurt by these same scandals.”
There's a meme circulating with Pope Francis holding up an object with his eyes closed, and people are shopping in various funny objects. In the original photo, the object is a host being consecrated. This means being turned from bread into the actual body and blood of God. 1/
— (((Simcha Fisher))) (@SimchaFisher) October 17, 2020
Sister Theresa Aletheia said, “The pope meme is not funny. If you’re Catholic (or anyone who desires to have a modicum of respect for someone else’s deeply held religious beliefs) don’t tweet or retweet it.”
The counter argument seems to be that the people spreading this meme are not attacking Catholics or mocking their faith. However, it is just something funny and lighthearted to look at or share with friends online. Others are saying that it is acceptable to poke fun at the religion regardless of the meme due to all of the scandals surrounding the Catholic Church that have been exposed over the years.
am i a bad Catholic for laughing at the Pope Francis memes? probably
are they hilarious? yes
— spooky™ sydknee (@soitssyd) October 17, 2020
Regardless of the memes critics, it does not seem as though the photoshopping and editing to create new versions of this trend will stop anytime soon. Religion is typically a controversial and sensitive topic when discussed seriously and in depth. However, this meme may not be on the same wavelength as something that should be taken seriously. There are several different perspectives on this trending topic and Twitter users will have to wait and see if Pope Francis will respond at all to this chaos.