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18 July, 2024
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Pope Francis hosts comedy summit at the Vatican

Jimmy Fallon and Chris Rock photobomb Pontiff, proving laughter truly is universal


On Friday, Pope Francis welcomed more than 100 comedians to the Vatican last Friday, including stars like Jimmy Fallon and Chris Rock, for an event filled with laughter and fun. The gathering, which sparked both excitement and criticism, was a celebration of humor's ability to bring people together.

In his speech to comedians from 15 countries, the pope highlighted the importance of humor amid gloomy news and praised their ability to unite people through laughter. “I hold you in high esteem as artists who express yourselves through the language of comedy, humor, and irony,” Pope Francis said in Italian. “You have the power to spread peace and smiles.” He also emphasized that humor and faith can coexist, adding, “Can we laugh at God? Of course, we can, just as we play and joke with the people we love.”

The gathering, which sparked both excitement and criticism, was a celebration of humor's ability to bring people together.

The event featured well-known comedians like Conan O’Brien, Stephen Colbert, Whoopi Goldberg, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Jim Gaffigan. The entertainers were in high spirits, listening to the pope's remarks, greeting him warmly, and sharing jokes and bits of physical comedy. At one point, Fallon and Rock even photobombed the pope, causing the audience to burst into laughter.

“We’re all looking at each other, thinking, ‘Something’s wrong.’ This beautiful, beautiful space — the Vatican — and for some reason, they’ve let comedians in, which is always a mistake,” O’Brien joked to reporters. Colbert, a Catholic, expressed his excitement after meeting the pope, sharing that he would love to do a cooking segment with him, referencing the pontiff’s memoir.

Not everyone appreciated the humor. Some conservatives were offended by the comedians’ previous jokes about Christianity. Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, criticized Colbert's past remarks and jokes by Fallon and O’Brien about priests amid the church’s sexual abuse scandal.

Additionally, the event came shortly after the pope allegedly repeated a gay slur in a meeting with clergy, which drew criticism, including from Colbert on his show before the Vatican visit.

The event was organized by the Dicastery for Culture and Education. After the comedian gathering, Pope Francis traveled to southern Italy to speak about artificial intelligence at the Group of Seven summit, becoming the first pontiff to address the topic at the meeting.

“Continue to cheer people up, especially those who have the hardest time looking at life with hope,” Pope Francis said as he concluded his speech. “Help us, with a smile, to see reality with its contradictions, and to dream of a better world!”

[Source: The Washington Post]

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