I love BuzzFeed. When I need a few moments of distraction, I head over to the aggregation site to look at a list of funny animals, helpful ‘life hacks,’ or even the occasional original piece of reporting. It’s a tech success-story: New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently announced a citywide initiative to lure tech start-ups to the Big Apple at a press conference in BuzzFeed’s offices. But I cringe whenever they “report” on anything to do with the Catholic Church. (I write report in quotes, as most of their content is lists of pictures with funny captions).

Look, I get it. The target audience for BuzzFeed is young and it’s accepting of gay marriage. For those who support marriage equality, including the readers of BuzzFeed, the Catholic Church is an easy target. Its leaders sometimes say things that sound stupid and insensitive, especially on these issues.

But publishing ‘The 25 Gayest Pictures of the Pope’ earlier this month, just after Benedict announced his resignation? Come on. A couple of years ago, they posted a list of 12 unflattering photos of Benedict XVI with the headline ‘12 Evilest Pope Pictures’. (I’m probably not the only one who found the ‘Evilest’ list offensive; they published a list of the ‘12 Sweetest Pope Pictures’ later that day.)

I’m not one who believes there are anti-Catholic messages lurking around every corner (I’m looking at you, Catholic League), but inane junk like this on one of the web’s most popular sites only gives more ammo to those who do. Would BuzzFeed ridicule the leaders of other religions like this? What value do posts like this serve? Are they modern satire or lazy bigotry? Maybe the writers over there just had something against Benedict and the tone will change in a few weeks with the election of a new pope?

Categories: Beliefs

Michael J. O'Loughlin

Michael J. O'Loughlin

Michael J. O’Loughlin writes about religion and politics from Washington, D.C., paying close attention to the role of the Catholic Church in public life. His writing has appeared in Religion & Politics, the Jesuit magazine America, on BustedHalo.com, and in Duke Divinity School’s Faith & Leadership.


  1. Though I understand your frustration with the rather tawdry posts on Buzzfeed about the Pope, someone you highly regard, I think it is far less appalling than the harm the Pope and the Catholic Church has done to gay people (as you mention) and the furthering of seemingly christlike attitudes developing in modern society (total equality and inclusion for everyone). To some of us, the inability of the Church to come to terms with these truths that seem so obvious to the rest of us is almost laughable, and the Pope stands at the center of it all as the most visible head of organized religion. It’s hard to connect with silly things like funny hats and rings and chanting when you are a young secular person. Really, these posts should alarm you more because they are considered funny by many and I would wager, most young people. It points out how much despair the Church is in, and how much it needs to change. The Catholic Church does not have a good record on changing and changing quickly. Now that things are changing quicker than ever in the secular moral zeitgeist in terms of gay/women’s/human rights, the Church has an opportunity to become relevant and a provider of love, hope, and peace for everyone OR go down the tube with everyone pointing and laughing.

    • Gay people have been doing greater harm to themselves than anyone, by trying to force on everyone else the idea that what they do is perfectly good and normal. In one thing, however, you are right. The Church is not good at changing quickly, as they teach timeless truths that nothing has to do with zeitgeist. Thus, while today it may seem anachronistic, in two or three generations it will be the evident shape of things to come.

  2. Gasp!!!! the Pope and Catholic Church are against gay marriage. I never knew this!!!
    Hey the Catholic Church at least acknowledges that homosexuality isnt a choice. I have never even really heard the church, pope, and priests say anything stupid like gays should be left on an island to die or anything like that. The Pope has merely only said (and never with harsh language) that gay marriage is incompatible with Christianity and its sacred definition of marriage. Thats it!!! And he thinks they should have pretty much all other rights. People make the Church seem like an evil bloodthirsty racist demon for just supporting its 2000 yo belief in traditional principles of marriage. Its pretty ridiculous and insulting to us to see people be so mean to an 85 yo man whose being attacked for just having contrary beliefs of someone.

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