Pope Francis with censor bar over hands
At the crux of the argument - can we mock faith?

If you’ve been on Twitter lately, you’ve likely noticed the flood of Pope memes, showing the pontiff holding up a Eucharist wafer. The meme’s format, in four tiled images, allows for the Eucharist to be easily replaced with whatever the meme maker would like.

While the meme’s existed in various forms since 2013, it’s only in recent days that the meme’s taken off, with users creatively taking advantage of Twitter’s tiled image format. And while the Pope meme has received millions of likes just this month, not everyone’s happy with His Holiness being turned into a joke.

Warning: Offensive Content Below

According to Insider, the original photo of the pontiff holding the Eucharist is from a 2013 Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady Aparecida in Brazil. As Know Your Meme reports, the meme’s had some fleeting success in the years since the original photo was taken, but nothing like the explosive popularity it's seeing currently. 

In its current format, the image of Pope Francis is split up into four tiled images. The rightmost images show the pontiff, the bottom left image shows his hands held aloft, on the top-right image is replaced with whatever the creator likes.

The meme spread like wildfire throughout Twitter earlier this month as users easily swapped out the first tile with the image of their choice, but some Catholics aren’t laughing, especially as Twitter users are depicting the pope holding up some rather unholy items or even engaging in some rather un-popely behavior.

The crux of the offensive for some Catholics is not just that the Pope is being meme’d. It’s that the item being replaced is the Eucharist - which many Catholics believe actually becomes the body and blood of Christ through Transubstantiation. As writer Simcha Fisher said on Twitter, “I suppose people think it's fine to mock Catholicism because pedo priests + 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.”

Can We Mock Faith?

Despite the outrage, the memes continue. And despite the offense caused, it’s clear that no one is intending to upset Catholics. Most undoubtedly view it as just a silly meme, and many sharing it are Catholic themselves.

And some members of the LGBT community suggested that a lesson on showing respect was rather rich coming from Catholics. “When your religious beliefs not only cast me as subhuman but shape the culture to enforce that belief,” one Twitter user said, “your beliefs are fair game.”

If you’re ready to view the meme, we’ve included a few of our favorite examples below.

What do you think of the meme? Is it all in good fun, or do Catholics have a genuine grievance? Should religious views be off-limits for mockery?

27 comments

  1. Douglas Robert Spindler's Avatar Douglas Robert Spindler

    Catholics have a strange set or priorities. They are outraged over the pope holding random objects, but don't seem to give an **** about priests who rape and molest young children. Or that priest tell women who get the **** beat out of them by their husbands to go back to them and not get a divorce.

  1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

    So let them mock him. Whats wrong? cant take a joke?

  1. Kelly's Avatar Kelly

    interesting that Catholics are offended by this yet for decades ignored the sexual abuse and tolerated it because the Catholic Church paid off the victims or just ignored the victims and families.

  1. Minister Mike's Avatar Minister Mike

    The one with the lion cartoon character is cute; the others are just terribly 'shopped.

    I have a nickel for any/every one offended by any of these - the Sense of Humor store is having a sale this week. I have nickels for anyone offended by any religious meme.

    1. William R Clapie's Avatar William R Clapie

      LOL. Not a bad idea.

  1. James Pace's Avatar James Pace

    Honestly, it's hilarious. Christianity in all its forms has been bashing every other faith in existence since it's existence, up to and including genocide. So if they can't take a little good natured ribbing, they really need to grow up...

    1. Mya-Lia Sharizyn's Avatar Mya-Lia Sharizyn

      They say they accept change such as women wearing head coverings (they did not so many years ago, but not now because, things have changed) and they also say that the word never changes. They are obviously picking and choosing what they want to accept as change and what they don't. Try telling them that, pfft.

    2. William R Clapie's Avatar William R Clapie

      I love it! As a minister/pastor in my own church and beliefs. I don't follow typical religious dogma. Why do we need a book (partially stolen from the Jewish Torah(?). that justifies, rape, child murder, incest, torture. Don't believe me? Look it up. In the Catholic church ( I think, haven't been in one in decades) you are told to drink blood and be a cannibal! Yep, you read that. The wine/cookie ceremony, as follows. "In the Catholic faith, Communion is the central part of the Mass. To receive the Eucharist, you must, among other requirements, be a Baptized Catholic, and be in a state of grace. At Communion, you may receive the Body and the Blood of Christ." Body and Blood? Who is this guy? Body and blood, what, we are children of Moloch? He is in the bible too! As follows. "One of the practices of the cult that worshipped Moloch was to sacrifice their children. Of course, this was forbidden by God's word: Lev. 18:21 says, "Neither shall you give any of your offspring to offer them to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God; I am the Lord." (See also Lev. 18:21; 20:2-5; 2 Kings. 23:10; Jer. 32:35)." "I'ma stop here, you catch my drift by now I would think In defense of the "idea" of religion? More power to, Home, Heart, Family. These are the tenet of my faith. Nuff' said. PS, I do have an idea for a church. May be fun. Let you know later if anyone wants to help me with it? Partially kidding. Few if any would donate substantial funds to an unknown minister in a random religion!

      1. T Kosse`'s Avatar T Kosse`

        Give it try, You never know there may be people who like your idea for a church, but you won't know until you do. Everything starts with one step. But if that don't work, don't give up you just may need to refine and test your ideas a little more.

    3. Reverend K's Avatar Reverend K

      Especially the Catholic Church. I had to quit scouts when I was a kid because they decided to hold our meetings at a Mormon hall. BLASPHEMY!

      1. T Kosse`'s Avatar T Kosse`

        The bad part about boy scouts was that it got tied with religion by it's founder Sir Robert Baden-Powell when it should have been just secular activity, I believe you can instill good moral teaching with out involving religion.

        1. Minister Mike's Avatar Minister Mike

          Not so much. Yes, the BS was a youth organization started by Baden-Powel, but it was independent of any/all religions or faiths. Sort of like AA, all the boys had to do was acknowledge some higher power. It is the US brand of scouting that started as a lily white christian organization.

          1. T Kosse`'s Avatar T Kosse`

            “we aim for the practice of Christianity in their everyday life and dealings, and not merely the profession of its theology on Sundays.” ― Robert Baden-Powell, Robert Baden-Powell: Scouting for Boys, The Original

      2. Mya-Lia Sharizyn's Avatar Mya-Lia Sharizyn

        Lol!!

  1. Walter Eugene Curtis's Avatar Walter Eugene Curtis

    Outrage is fine. Verbal expression of outrage is fine. Harming others because of one's outrage is bad / unacceptable.

  1. Linda weeks's Avatar Linda weeks

    Human nature finds humor in everything.

  1. Clay Serenbetz's Avatar Clay Serenbetz

    This blasphemy is disrespectful and is similar to Charlie Hebdo's disrespect of the Muslim faith. For the non-believers, the cartoons are satire. For the faithful, the cartoons are blasphemous. If you find them offensive, you can ignore them or learn to laugh at the folly portrayed.

  1. Vern Dee Wall's Avatar Vern Dee Wall

    It was just such an occasion that gave rise to the Lutheran Church.

  1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

    It looks as though people can poke fun at all religions apart from Islam.

  1. T Kosse`'s Avatar T Kosse`

    Yes while it is disrespectful to the Pope I don't find it to be overly offensive and the Pope being a public figure going to be a target for public humor and ridicule as all public figure will be. It come with the territory of their position.

  1. Paul J. Fumero's Avatar Paul J. Fumero

    The Pope is not Holly. He's just one of the boys that got elected to be Pope. That church is first a World Bank and then a Business to sell tech to the highest bidder. Religion is just the cover.

  1. Nikki Tate- Coates's Avatar Nikki Tate- Coates

    I'm not a Catholic or even a Christian & I'm not too happy about the Pope meme(s) either. Just because you have different views on religion doesn't mean that you shouldn't have a little respect for others beliefs.

    1. flugo's Avatar flugo

      'nick taco'; 'Respect for another's beliefs'?! Tell me about the Inquisition!!

      1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

        Flugo, what about respeçting our fellow Ministers by calling them by their r3al nameß, instead of the deplorable ones you assign them, which can be quite offensive, and helps you stay on the outside looking in, instead of an integral part of our group.

        1. flugo's Avatar flugo

          'see bee ess': What about respecting your fellow ministers by allowing them to express their unique, creative and individual viewpoints? Your attempt to denigrate comments on postings tends to help you stay on the outside looking in, instead of being an integral part our group.

  1. Richard Lee Cornell's Avatar Richard Lee Cornell

    This is America where making fun of something and someone is a past time. True we do have a lot of time on our hands and when not out saving the rest of mankind like our ways of having fun with others. Wait until Biden and Harris are sworn in. Their lives are for ever more will fill the Internet with images that only Satan can dream up. Being a evil minded creature myself with Adobe Photoshop tearing into Biden and Harris will out do what even the Russians can do.

  1. Russel A. Kester's Avatar Russel A. Kester

    Let's say someone did this with the profit Muhammed or the Buddha, would it still be cute or funny? If one can honestly say 'yes,' then cool. If not, then one might want to question one's true intentions of negative feelings.

    Every faith is fair game for criticism or mockery, and if one takes offense at such, then that person should exam themself to understand why. One should also seek to understand why others would want to portray a faith negatively. How has your faith hurt others? What are you doing to stop your faith from hurting others?

    Now, go forth in love and understanding, and take the beam out of your own faith's eye before trying to correct others for the splinter in theirs.

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