Pope Francis meets with artists from the world of humour Pope Francis meets with artists from the world of humour  (VATICAN MEDIA Divisione Foto)

Pope to comedians: Help us to dream of a better world

Pope Francis meets with more than 100 comedians from around the world, encouraging them to cheer people up and help people see reality with all its contradictions.

By Christopher Wells

Comedians are among the most well-loved and applauded entertainers, Pope Francis said on Friday morning, because they “have and cultivate the gift of making people laugh.”

With so much “gloomy news,” in the midst of both public and personal crises, comedians are able to spread “serenity and a smile,” and are among the few who can speak “to very different people, of different generations and different cultural backgrounds.”

Precisely because “laughter is contagious,” it can “break down social barriers and create connections,” the Pope said, noting that comedians remind us that “playful fun and laughter are central to human life.”

A precious gift

Pope Francis told comedians they are in possession of “a precious gift,” that can spread peace “within hearts and between peoples, helping us to overcome difficulties and cope with daily stress.”

The Holy Father went on to highlight another “miracle” of comedians, the ability to make people smile even when tackling serious issues. “You denounce the excesses of power, give voice to forgotten situations, highlight abuses, point out inappropriate behaviour… but without spreading alarm and terror, anxiety or fear,” he told them.

Making God smile

Taking a mystical turn, Pope Francis pointed out that in creation, “Divine Wisdom practised your art for the benefit of none other than God Himself, the first spectator in history,” with God delighting in the works that he had made.

“Remember this,” he told comedians. “When you manage to bring intelligent smiles to the lips of even a single spectator, you also make God smile.”

Never ‘against’ anyone

He emphasized that thinking and speaking with a sense of humour help us understand and get a sense of human nature. Humour, the Pope said, “does not offend, does not humiliate, does not ‘nail’ people to their faults.” Unlike other forms of communication, he argued, humour is “never ‘against’ anyone, but is always inclusive and proactive, and arouses openness, sympathy, and empathy.

In fact, the Pope said, “we can even laugh at God, just as we play and joke with those we love.” But, he said, this must be done without offending the religious feelings of believers, especially the poor.”

Dreaming of a better world

Pope Francis concluded his address by blessing those present and their art. “Continue to cheer people up, especially those who find it hardest to look at life with hope,” he said. “Help us, with a smile, to see reality with its contradictions, and to dream of a better world!”

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14 June 2024, 08:25