All photos via Flickr user Catholic United Financial
Last September I wrote a blog post about the pope, and to find an image that could go with it I started browsing through Flickr's Creative Commons library, which is a great place to find images you don't have to pay for. I didn't get any particularly good shots of Pope Francis, but my search led me to the Flickr page of Catholic United Financial, an account that has over 6,000 photos—all of them of people posing next to cardboard cutouts of Pope Francis.
Now, I don't know anything about Catholic United Financial, though I imagine it's some sort of charity that brings cardboard cutouts of the pope to events. As you scroll through the photos the cutout changes from waving happy Pope Francis to a more serious Pope Francis, so I assume the cutouts get worn out after so much use, but that's conjecture on my part. I prefer to keep myself ignorant, because adding context to these photos—where they were taken, what events the cardboard pope was attending, why a charity would decide to post them all online—will only detract from the pure joy I get from periodically clicking through that Flickr page.
And for the record, I'm not enjoying these photos on some kind of ironically detached level where I'm pointing and laughing at people in Middle America who like something as old-fashioned as the Catholic Church. The images below are great simply because they show people being happy. Thank you, Catholic United Financial!
BONUS POPE PICTURE: While going through this Flickr account I came across previously unknown (to me, at least) photos of people posing with a cutout of the previous pope, Benedict XVI. These are a little odder because—there's no nice way to say this—Benedict looks evil when he smiles. They're still great though:
Harry Cheadle is still looking at these photos. Follow him on Twitter.