ROME— Generally speaking, when the Catholic Church looks around for allies in spreading the Gospel, it tends to look naturally to other Christians, perhaps, or people publicly associated with religious faith and values.
Now, however, the Church is getting a social media boost from a highly unexpected source: Lady Gaga.
In between posting pictures of herself attending red-carpet events, singing at the Oscars, and sitting on top of a naked man wearing nothing but her underwear, in recent weeks the American songwriter, singer and actress has also posted two pictures of herself attending a Catholic Mass.
The first came on April 24, when she posted a picture of herself entering Chicago’s Holy Name Cathedral with the following header: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
As Gaga wrote, this is a quote from John 13:34.
Following the Gospel passage, she wrote: “Even the highest powers don’t have it all figured out right away. Gotta leave yourself room to discover something new. Even at the last minute. Don’t forget to love.”
On Sunday, she shared another image, this time with Father John P. Duffel, of New York’s Blessed Sacrament Church. She thanked him for his “beautiful homily, as always, and for the lunch in my pop’s restaurant.”
“I was so moved today when you said: ‘The Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect but the food that God gives us,’” she added.
These posts generated all kinds of reactions from Catholics with their own social media presence.
Jesuit Father James Martin, for instance, shared the second picture in his Twitter, making no comments about it other than a second tweet saying “Yesterday my friend Fr. John Duffell met a graduate of the Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York” with a link to Gaga’s Instagram post.
But there was also some reaction from Catholic bloggers, which caught the singer’s attention.
One such case was Becky Roach from Catholic-Link, who had a post on what are Catholics to do when celebrities such as Lady Gaga and a former Miss America, Rima Fakih, known to be the first Muslim to have the title and who recently converted to Christianity, take to the internet to share their faith.
The post basically proposed “five things to remember about celebrities,” such as the fact that they “aren’t God because they’re famous,” “they’re humans like us. They’re not perfect,” celebrities’ words about their faith can be “conversation starters” and “we need to pray for them.”
The post began by asking what are Catholics to do in these situations: “Many celebrities are sharing Bible verses, quoting priests, and singing Christian music,” it said, “while at the same time still leading a typical Hollywood lifestyle void of Christian values such as modesty and purity.”
Gaga took to Instagram to respond to Roach. The Grammy winner spoke about Mary Magdalene, “someone society shames as if she and her body are a man’s trash can” who “washed the feet of Christ and was protected and loved by him.”
“We are not just ‘celebrities,’ we are humans and sinners, children, and our lives are not void of values because we struggle. We are as equally forgiven as our neighbor. God is never a trend, no matter who the believer,” Gaga wrote.
Catholic Link replied to Gaga’s Instagram post, saying it was “one of the most beautiful responses” they have ever read from a celebrity.
These aren’t the first references Gaga has made to her Catholic upbringing in New York, where she attended the Convent of the Sacred Heart, a private, all-girls Catholic school on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
At least twice she’s taken pictures of a bible, sharing passages from the Psalms.
In recent years, the Vatican and the Church at every level have jumped onto the Internet bandwagon, with emeritus Pope Benedict XVI becoming the first pontiff to have a Twitter account, taken over by Francis in March 2013.
That account is on its way to reach 30 million followers combining the 8 accounts in English, Spanish, Polish, French, German, Portuguese, Arabic and Latin.
In an attempt to broaden his social media reach, earlier in the year Pope Francis joined Lady Gaga and scores of others on Instagram, a social media platform used primarily to share pictures. Here he stablished a new record by earning a million followers in just 12 hours, breaking the record previously held by David Beckham, who needed a full day.