Pope Francis Hosts Star-Studded Comedy Gathering at the Vatican

by Louisa Afful
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Pope Francis hosted a global gathering of comedians at the Vatican on Friday, featuring Whoopi Goldberg, Jimmy Fallon, Chris Rock, Stephen Colbert, and Conan O’Brien, along with over 100 comedians from 15 countries and an audience of over 200 people.

The 87-year-old pontiff, known for his humour, often jokes with people, asking them to “pray for me… not against me!” He has emphasized that a sense of humour is essential, saying, “A sense of humour lifts you up, it shows your life is short and to take things in the spirit of a redeemer. It is a human attribute, but it is the closest to God’s grace.”

The Vatican described the event as a meeting with “artists from the world of humour,” highlighting that comedy can foster empathy and support. This gathering follows Pope Francis’ visits to the Venice Biennale and meetings with artists and directors at the Vatican.

The event also comes amid scrutiny over Pope Francis’ outreach to LGBTQ+ Catholics after reports of his use of a homophobic slur in private meetings.

Among the U.S. comedians attending were Tig Notaro, Jim Gaffigan, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Both Gaffigan and Colbert are Catholics, while Fallon and O’Brien were raised in the Catholic Church. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who admitted she had “no idea” what to expect, also attended.

Fr. James Martin, a Jesuit priest known for his appearances on “The Colbert Report,” was also present. Colbert humorously addressed the audience, saying, “Pope Francis is going to meet me at the Vatican! Am I excited? Is the pope Catholic?”

Colbert joked about Chris Rock’s incident at the Oscars, advising Rock to avoid controversial jokes: “Chris, please for safety’s sake I would just keep Mary Magdalene’s name out of your mouth. Because the pope wears a big ring!”

Whoopi Goldberg, star of “Sister Act,” previously met Pope Francis at the Vatican last year, where she humorously invited him to cameo in “Sister Act 3.”

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