Yes We Vati-CAN!

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

In the immortal words of English hip hop artist Mike Skinner (better known as The Streets):

I think you are really fit
You’re fit – But my gosh don’t you know it

Sorry, but that’s just what first came to my (highly cultured, don’t worry) mind when I first saw the below, thanks to re-tweeting by Le Figaro:

His papacy is not even one year old (that will occur on 13 March), but already Pope Francis has been flying high in the world’s esteem. And while I won’t go so far as to accuse Vatican officials of leaving their confines in the Holy See to find some local graffiti artists to plant that particular illustration on a local wall, it’s probably safe to say that the Pope and his officials have reason to be satisfied with their efforts so far to put this new Pope’s personal stamp on the office.

Another reflection of this – and going further with the Le Figaro connection – is the piece published today in that newspaper, “Pope Francis is more popular than Obama in the Internet.” Now, how are you supposed to decide who is more popular than whom on the Internet? Apparently it’s a function of how often people search for your name on Google and how often you are mentioned on the Web overall. The Pope ranks high in those two metrics (1.7 million and 49 million, respectively), although he does not top all individual markets. In Italy, where he lives, there are more Google searches for Silvio Berlusconi; in Argentina, where he is from, there are more (surprisingly) for the Italian comedian and anti-Establishment politician Beppe Grillo. And among world youth, His Holiness must take a back seat when it comes to these metrics to One Direction and Justin Bieber.

Then again, why is this subject even coming up? Examining the Figaro article closely, it’s clear that it has been touched off by a recent report on Pope Francis’ popularity from the Aleteia news service, which bills itself as “The news of the world from a Catholic perspective”!

That must give one pause. Look, it’s true that His Holiness made it to the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, and that’s not nothing (although it’s less than it was). Still, remember that he has people working to make such things happen for him; remember also that when, say, HTC is suddenly the mobile telephone everyone is talking about, that fact stems from more than just that particular product’s qualities. But my gosh don’t you know it . . .

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