Mark Zuckerberg: 'Welcome to Instagram, Pope Francis!'

The Bishop of Rome continues his efforts to expand his reach on the internet.  


It seems appropriate that Pope Francis’ first Instagram post is of him clasping his hands in prayer and that the majority of the photo’s comments were none other than the praying emoji.

The Pope expanded his efforts to reach out to the online community Saturday by creating an Instagram account and making his first post, which simply read “Pray for me” in nine different languages.

He’s already racked up nearly 700,000 followers in the first 24 hours. But he still has a while to go to compete with Selena Gomez’s more than 70 million followers, which makes her the most-followed person on the platform.

Instagram is yet another way for the Pope to spread his message through social media as he has been trying to do through his 8.9 million followers on Twitter.

Interestingly, Pope Francis is skipping out on Facebook for the time being, but that didn’t stop CEO Mark Zuckerberg from welcoming the head of the Catholic church to Instagram, which Facebook bought back in 2012.

Like most all Facebook posts about religion, the comments section lit up with people both criticizing and praising the Pope’s message. Some commenters took aim at Zuckerberg’s claim that the Pope is spreading a message of equality when women are not allowed to become priests, while others praised his increased visibility in the past years.

But now with the new Facebook reactions we can actually put numbers to just how many people reacted negatively. Only 209 responded with an angry face as opposed to 118,000 likes and 7,600 love reactions, for what it’s worth.

In 2014, the Vatican’s communications chief said that the church as a whole can no longer ignore social media, lest they wind up too insulated.

“In our church we are always fishing inside the aquarium,” said Archbishop Claudio Celli, head of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. “And we forget that most fish are outside the aquarium.”