The Pope Says It’s Okay to Laugh at God

According to Pope Francis, He can take a joke
The Pope Says It’s Okay to Laugh at God

It’s the ultimate way for comedians to punch up. 

“Can we laugh at God?” asked Pope Francis this morning at a gathering of more than 100 comedians from around the world. “Of course, we can, just as we play and joke with the people we love. The Jewish wisdom and literary tradition is a master in this. It is possible to do this without offending the religious sentiments of believers, especially the poor.”

Not sure what the Pontiff was up to with his “especially the poor” caveat, but good to know that God is fair game in the comedy business. Pope Francis delivered his message to a group that included Stephen Colbert, Whoopi Goldberg, Chris Rock, Jimmy Fallon, Jim Gaffigan, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Conan O’Brien. It was like the guest list at SNL’s 50th birthday party without everyone having to kiss Lorne Michaels’ ass. 

The Pope had plenty to say about the subject of comedy, according to the Vatican. Here are some highlights:

  • “Your talent is a precious gift. Together with a smile, it spreads peace in our hearts and among others, helping us to overcome difficulties and cope with everyday stress. It helps us find relief in irony and go through life with humor. I like to pray daily with the words of Saint Thomas More: ‘Grant me, O Lord, a good sense of humor.’”
  • “You denounce abuses of power; you give voice to forgotten situations; you highlight abuses; you point out inappropriate behavior. You do this without spreading alarm or terror, anxiety or fear, as other types of communication tend to do; you rouse people to think critically by making them laugh and smile.”
  • “How much we need to learn from you. The laughter of humor is never ‘against’ anyone, but is always inclusive, purposeful, eliciting openness, sympathy, empathy.”

Unsurprisingly, not all Catholics agree with the Pope, despite the guy being infallible. The New York Times reported that the Catholic League, a conservative American rights group, wasn’t nuts about some of the invitees. Willian Donohue, the group’s president, took to the organization’s website to chide event organizers who needed to “vet these comedians before introducing them to the pope.” 

In particular, Donohue didn’t care for Colbert once comparing the Eucharist to Doritos. He also was peeved by Fallon and O’Brien punchlines that poked priests over the church’s many sexual-abuse scandals. That’s not funny, you guys!

Speaking of O’Brien, sounds like he had a great time at the gathering. “It’s a nice thing,” the Irish-Catholic comic told reporters. “It’s the first time, and I’m sure the last. I’m sure (Pope Francis) walked out and said, ‘We’re never doing that again.’”


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