Playful Pope Francis jokes with world's comedians ahead of G7

Agence France-Presse
Playful Pope Francis jokes with world's comedians ahead of G7
This photo taken and handout on June 14, 2024 by The Vatican Media shows US actors Chris Rock (C), Jimmy Fallon (C right) and Pope Francis during an audience with comedians in The Vatican.
Photo by handout / Vatican Media / AFP

VATICAN CITY, Holy See — Pope Francis on Friday clowned around with over 100 top global comedians including Whoopi Goldberg, Chris Rock and Jimmy Fallon before leaving to address a summit of G7 leaders in Italy.

"Instead of reading my speech, I'll just do this", the grinning 87-year-old said, as he stuck his thumb in his ear and wiggled his fingers at a room full of humourists.

Francis met with cheers and applause as he began the day with an audience for comedians from 15 countries, from Argentina to Germany and East Timor.

"Sister Act" star Whoopi Goldberg and Julia Louis-Dreyfus of "Seinfeld" fame waved from the front row as the pope entered the gilded and frescoed room at the Vatican.

The 107 comedians included Britain's Stephen Merchant, from TV show "The Office", US stand-up comedian Chris Rock, and Italy's Silvio Orlando, who played a scheming cardinal in "The Young Pope".

Seconds before Francis arrived, Jimmy Fallon, host of the "Tonight Show" in the US, had the room in fits of laughter as he pranced around at the front.

Goldberg has previously joked about offering the pope a cameo in "Sister Act 3".

Asked if she pressed Francis on it Friday, she quipped that "it wasn't the right moment, I'll probably send him an email", according to ANSA news agency.

Francis then headed to Puglia, to join the heads of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US at a summit also attended by leaders from Brazil, India, Kenya, Turkey and Ukraine.

"Immersed as we are in many social and personal emergencies, you have the power to spread serenity and smiles", the pope told the comedians.

"You are among the few to have the ability to speak to very different people, from different generations, backgrounds and cultures," Francis said.

The Argentine will be the first head of the Catholic Church to attend a G7 summit.

Francis has been asked by host Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to talk about the moral and ethical quandaries surrounding artificial intelligence.

He is also expected to conduct a series of bilateral meetings to discuss pressing global issues, including the conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine.

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