Thursday, March 14, 2013

Papal Pop: The Pontiff in Popular Culture

With today's announcement that the College of Cardinals had successfully chosen a new Pope in the Papal Conclave, I thought I'd probe the depths of the Internet and find some papal moments in popular culture, both good and bad. I've studied a bit about the history of the Christian church, but to be honest, my focus is a bit more modern. And although I'm not Catholic, I'm still pretty intrigued by the new pope Francis I and the process of picking the new leader of the Catholic Church. I find it interesting that this is the third pope of my lifetime. For those born before 1978, it will be your fourth.

I've put together some pop culture moments that feature the Pope, whomever he may be at the time, videos after the break.

The Golden Girls - The Pope's Ring (1991)
When I was growing up, The Golden Girls was one of my favorite shows, and still continues to be a favorite to this day. In an episode from 1991 titled "The Pope's Ring," Pope John Paul II is in Miami and Sophia wants to get some face time so she can convince him to come bless her friend Agnes who was in the hospital. It's a great episode with the normal Golden Girls formula of continuing storyline (in this case Rose and Miles) with the one short story (Roses' birthday/Sophia and the Pope). You can watch the entire episode here:

South Park - "Fantastic Easter Special" (2007)
In 2004, I read a little book called The DaVinci Code which helped reignite a spark in the history of the Catholic church. While I know that the plot of Dan Brown's books are entirely implausible, both Angels and Demons and The DaVinci Code, which I actually read in the wrong order, were entertaining reads for a high school junior. Coupling that with a local museum having a traveling exhibit on papal history and I was a teenage geek in history heaven. 

In South Park's lampooning style, the Easter episode for 2007 featured a parody of The DaVinci Code. In "Fantastic Easter Special," Stan questioned why Christians celebrated the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ by "dipping eggs in colored vinegar." What came of this episode was the revelation, a la Dan Brown, that Christians paint eggs because the first pope was actually a bunny. St. Peter/Peter Cottontail? Yep, I lol'd. It still makes me laugh now.

Saturday Night Live - Quvenzhan√© Wallis Named Pope (2013)
A couple of weeks ago, Kevin Hart hosted what was a decently funny episode of Saturday Night Live. Not having seen his stand-up before, I thought he was pretty funny. Because he's a comedian by profession, he seemed to fit into a lot of the sketches a lot better than some more dramatic actors.

Having been nominated for an Academy Award for her role in Beasts of the Southern Wild, the 9 year old has been riding high. She's just been cast by Will Smith in a re-imagining of Annie and according to The Situation Room, she's been elected pope by the College of Cardinals. I mean, who would want her to be the Pope? She's already got two tickets to the gun show.

Eurotrip - The New Pope
Okay, so this one doesn't feature the Pope directly, but it's still in essence about the pontiff. Eurotrip was a terribly stupid movie and this was probably one of the worst scenes in it, but it does feature some papal hijinks. I don't honestly even remember the plot of the movie, I just remember it being so incredibly stupid and not nearly as good as Roadtrip, which was also incredibly stupid. 

Family Guy - Holy Crap (1999)
I wasn't able to find a really good clip which features the Pope in this episode, but here's a mention from Tom and Diane about his visit to Boston. In the episode, Peter Griffin's super devout father Francis comes to stay with them and all hell breaks loose. Peter thinks that a good way to relate to his dad would be to kidnap the pope for him. It inspired a great line, "To the Popemobile!" The episode was actually pretty good and was pre-cancellation so it was before things got a bit too self-important.. 

There you have  it, a selection of Popes in popular culture. I hope you enjoyed this trip to Vatican City and back. Be sure to add the blog to your RSS feed, like the Facebook page, and follow me on Twitter!

Image of Pope Francis/Tard courtesy of

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