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Pope Francis takes a selfie, solidifies Catholic Church's newly cool image

In this photo provided Thurs., Aug. 29, 2013, by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis has his picture taken inside St. Peter’s Basilica with youths from the Italian Diocese of Piacenza and Bobbio, who came to Rome for a pilgrimage.

AP

Since when has the Pope been so cool? Since he became Pope Francis, actually. And he's constantly painting a better image of himself and, by extension, the Catholic Church.

This week, he was caught taking selfies with Italian teens. (Sidenote: Maybe that's why "selfie" was added to the Oxford Dictionaries Online this week?)

To be clear, this is historic. No other Pope has ever taken a selfie of any kind – ever.

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As has been pointed out many times, Pope Francis is relatable. He's like a family member, an uncle perhaps, who's had years of experience travelling and living. So when he gives you advice, you treat it as gold.

He's also more accepting than we've seen previous popes be. On gay priests, Pope Francis said: "If they accept the Lord and have good will, who am I to judge them?" A radical change from the previous Pope Benedict XVI who banned homosexuals from working in the Catholic Church.

He also made positive comments about women in the church, a traditionally touchy subject. Pope Francis said he wished women filled more roles and that he wants a deeper "theology of women" in the Catholic Church.

All of this is on top of the fact that he joined Twitter, and has, on his English account, close to three-million followers. He tweets everyday sort of things, like parts of prayers and instructions to ask for salvation: "Don't be afraid to ask God for forgiveness. He never tires of forgiving us. God is pure mercy," he tweeted on Aug. 25.

He's also shown that he's humble, not because he says he is but because his actions show he really is. He turned down the opportunity to cruise around town in vehicles like a BMW X5, a Mercedes and a custom-made Renault, opting instead for the more subtle Ford Focus.

Though he had the option to spend the summer with his feet up in Castel Gandolfo, the traditional Vatican residence with views overlooking Lake Albano, Pope Francis chose to continue living at a Vatican guesthouse where he had been since the election back in March.

And then there was that time when someone ordered a statue be built of him in front of his former cathedral in Buenos Aires, and he ordered them to stop. They listened.

The man's got power, and he's using it for good.

So it's really no surprise that a group of teens wanted to grab a selfie with the man; he's changing the face of the Catholic Church into something attainable, something relatable that has appeal to old and new generations alike. He's figured out that in order to reach people, he might have to log on to Twitter because that's how some of his target audience communicates. It was an intelligent, strategic move that's only had positive results.

Pope Francis: bringing the Catholic Church into the 21st century. Who wouldn't "like" that?

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