(RNS) The Vatican’s official Instagram account Monday (Dec. 14) morning posted what it said was the first papal selfie, an ebullient self-portrait by Pope Francis.
The post quickly went viral, not surprisingly — but alas, as often happens with this mediagenic pontiff, this story also turned out to be too good to be true.
Nope! Pope's First Selfie is no selfie. It's a screen grab from a Google Hangout. IG account says its official but isn't. So no selfie. Yet.
— James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) December 14, 2015
A bit of caution was certainly in order.
Remember, this is the pope who reportedly reassured a young boy whose dog had died that he would see his pet in heaven. And this is the pope who was sneaking out of the Vatican at night to feed the homeless wandering Rome’s streets.
Problem is, those were urban legends as well.
Also, Francis — who turns 79 this week — is the same pope who on a Google hangout with kids earlier this year confessed that he’s a technological “dinosaur” when of the children asked the pontiff if he likes to take pictures and upload them to a computer.
“Do you want me to tell you the truth?” Francis joked.
“I am old-fashioned when it comes to computers. I’m a dinosaur. I don’t know how to work a computer. What a pity, huh?”
As for selfies, here’s what the pope said about that phenomenon earlier this year in a conversation with journalists on the flight back to Rome from South America:
“What do I think of it? I feel like a grandfather! It’s another culture. Today as I was taking leave (from Paraguay), a policeman in his 40s asked me for a selfie! I told him, listen, you’re a teenager! It’s another culture — I respect it.”
So in keeping with his Jesuit way of approaching the world, a missionary always reaching out, it wouldn’t be surprising if the pope had a selfie.
But it seems he’ll need a bit more training before he’ll actually be the one to take it.
(David Gibson is a national reporter for RNS)