Pope Francis to play himself in a movie… uh huh. POLL


See below…

____ ORIGINAL  Published on: Feb 1, 2016

From Variety (not The Onion… not Eye of the Tiber):

Pope Francis will play himself in the new religious movie “Beyond the Sun,” marking his acting debut and the first time that a pope has appeared in a feature film.

“Beyond the Sun” — from Ambi Pictures — is a family adventure based on the Gospels. Pope Francis asked the filmmakers to make a movie that communicated Jesus’ message to children.

AMBI co-founders Andrea Iervolino and Lady Monika Bacardi will finance and produce the film. Graciela Rodriguez wrote the screenplay and will co-produce with Gabriel Leybu. Monsignor Eduardo Garcia will be Pope Francis’ advisor.

All profits from the film will be donated to Argentinean charities El Alemendro and Los Hogares de Cristo, which aid at-risk children and young adults.

Iervolino made his first film in his hometown of Cassino, Italy, at age 15.

“Our excitement and gratitude toward His Holiness, Pope Francis participating in this film is beyond words,” he said. “This is not just a movie for us, it’s a message, and who better to have on your side to deliver an important societal and spiritual message than the Pope.”

Bacardi said, “It is a great honor for Andrea and I to have the opportunity to work with His Holiness, Pope Francis, to spread the awareness of his message, through this film. We will make a movie everyone involved with can be proud of. Not only will families from around globe enjoy this film and be entertained, but they will be moved.”

Principal photography is slated to begin early this year in Italy. Ambi will oversee worldwide distribution for “Beyond the Sun” through its Los Angeles-based international sales division.


Okay… let’s poll this one.

Choose your best answer and, if you are registered to comment, give an pith and well-considered explanation in the combox.

Should Popes be actors in movies even to play themselves?

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From AP via ABC:

Vatican Disputes Pope Film Claim, Says Pontiff Not an Actor

The Vatican is disputing a U.S. film studio’s claim that the pope is making his movie debut, saying no scenes were shot for the venture and that the pope isn’t an actor.

Los Angeles-based AMBI Pictures headlined its press release: “Film Will Mark First Ever Big Screen Participation Role for the Leader of the Worldwide Catholic Church.”

Monsignor Dario Vigano, the head of the Vatican’s communications operation, acknowledged that he couldn’t exclude that the filmmakers got hold of some clips of the pope. But in comments broadcast on Vatican Radio on Tuesday, Vigano disputed the press release claiming that Francis would “play himself” in the film “Beyond the Sun.”

He said: “The pope is not an actor.”

AMBI described the film as “a family adventure story where children from different cultures emulate the apostles while searching for Jesus in the world around them.”


The company said “Beyond the Sun” initiated with Francis asking the filmmakers to make a movie for children that communicates Jesus’s message. The press release was accompanied by photos of the pope with the filmmakers.

The Vatican works hard to control the pope’s image, enforcing tough copyright restrictions on all visual media, and Vigano’s reaction to the announcement was a clear sign that the Vatican didn’t appreciate the hype. But Francis has been known to go his own way on several occasions, allowing friends to shoot video of him to convey messages to private gatherings: He delivered such a message to the Argentine Jewish community and to a gathering of American Pentecostals.

Vigano’s comment that he couldn’t exclude that the filmmakers had some footage of the pope suggested that they might have secured some video of him in the privacy of his hotel reception rooms.

The organizers said all profits from the film will go to two Argentina-based charities that help at-risk children and young adults.

A spokesman for AMBI declined to comment Tuesday.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. yatzer says:

    For a pope to be in a movie implies agreement with the movie and everything in it. That in itself would prove to be problematic sooner or later. In addition it would reduce the respect given to the papacy in general for the pope to participate in a money-making project. I suppose being in a documentary on St. Peter’s might, maybe be OK, but in general the pope is better off being the pope, period.

  2. If I remember Alden Hatch’s book Crown of Glory correctly, Ven. Pius XII appeared in a documentary about himself, in scenes staged specially for the film. I believe he was motivated, at least in part, by the desire to have some control over how he was portrayed.

    Nevertheless, I voted no. This Pope Francis project sounds like something other than a documentary.

  3. Robbie says:

    This is simply a terrible idea. Popes are not supposed to be celebrities who seek the limelight. They are supposed to be leaders of the Catholic faith. What’s next? The Real Bishops and Cardinals of the Vatican on E? I’m frustrated by so much that has happened these last few years and I struggle to understand why things like this are happening.

  4. TopSully says:

    I voted yes, this is a great idea, but if, and only if the pope in question has some ability to make sure the message isn’t mangled. Unfortunately I don’t think my answer necessarily applies to Pope Francis who doesn’t always insist on someone making sure the proper message is delivered.

  5. comedyeye says:

    If he knows exactly the purpose and intentions of the film and agrees with them I can’t think of any reason why he shouldn’t. Fulton Sheen had his own TV show for years!

  6. johnmann says:

    I fully expected this to be another post from Eye of the Tiber.

    I suspect it’ll be a cameo at the end of the movie. There’s no way he’s gonna be a main actor, right? Right?

  7. CatholicMD says:

    No. It only reinforces the cult of celebrity that surrounds the modern papacy.

  8. Zephyrinus says:

    With respect, Fr, and with apologies to Anita Moore, O.P.(lay) (see Comment, above), I think the first time a Pope appeared on film was in 1896.

    Wikipedia carries the following Caption to a photo of His Holiness Pope Leo XIII. The Caption reads: “Photogram of the 1896 film Sua Santitá papa Leone XIII, the first time a Pope appeared on film”.

    This image is available from The United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3a00543.

    in Domino


  9. Kathleen10 says:

    It is beneath the dignity of the office.
    A pope should not be an “entertainer”.
    A pope should have more important things to do, with the genocide in the Middle East and the Islamic threat, among other things. How heartbreaking to think of people suffering and dying for their faith, while the pope plays a part in a film.
    It lends credence to the implication that popes are involved in “fiction”.
    It focuses attention on the pope in a way unbecoming a holy father.
    It’s weird.

  10. VeritasVereVincet says:

    “I don’t care”, because in this case the good and bad balanced out.

    I’d rather have a pope play himself than an actor play him, because presumably he would refuse to comply with things that were wrong.

    But I’d rather have an actor play Pope Francis than having him appear as himself, because then if they do end up doing something wrong they can’t claim the pope approved it by being in it. My neck is getting tired of the Francis Whiplash Effect.

  11. pfreddys says:

    After this papacy will there be any serious decorum left to the office? Will decorum even be able to be restored in the future?

  12. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    I presume that this is, in fact, satire.

  13. acardnal says:

    To be or not to be. That is question.

  14. Grumpy Beggar says:

    Still scratching my head on this one . . .it isn’t like he’s missing any media attention or anything . . . I might even be more worried about the people who will be the producers and filmakers of the movie – given what MSM does with his words. Now that the proceeds are going to be given to charity, it will be a more difficult thing to nuke in the rare and unfortunate event that it begins to smell funny during production.
    It’s just a little weird : If I recall correctly, Pope St. John Paul II was an actor , but that was before he entered the priesthood . . .

    . . . * scratch , scratch , scratch * . . .

  15. pseudomodo says:

    Actually I would rather see him cast in a strong role in an supernatural action movie provided his costar is a strong catholic who prays the Rosary daily…Hellboy!

  16. Iconophilios says:

    I will go with “No… well… I guess not” because the circumstances I think (in my unworthy opinion) it would be tolerable are very specific and unlikely to occur. That is, it must not be a role large enough to take away too much of HH’s precious time, the content of the film must be absolutely morally unobjectionable by the Church’s standards (no vulgarity, obscenity, heresy, &c), there must be no opportunities for scandal by HH being in the company of actors/directors/companies of ill repute, and the film must be evangelical for the Catholic faith.

    Since those circumstances are extremely slim, like I said, I think it’s not a good idea.

  17. Manducat in the hat says:

    I voted “No…well…I guess not” because the question asked regarding popes in general. I could see a Pope like JPII playing himself in a movie and it being very tasteful and probably having a universal message of truth.

    This Pope Francis movie thing just seems a bit too much like our sitting president having cameos on tv and movies. Neither are lacking for exposure, and it just seems more like novelty or a cult of personality thing. Not to mention that this pope is not exactly media savvy, so God only knows what they’re going to have him say, how they’re going to edit it, and so on… I shudder to think of the possibilities.

  18. ckdexterhaven says:

    Anyone remember Nancy Reagan doing a Very Special Episode of Different Strokes? The Very Special Episode epidemic of the 80’s is ridiculed now for a reason.

    Please, Pope Francis, don’t do it!

  19. thomas777 says:

    Before I read anyone else’s comment I would just like to say that I don’t think a Pope should be taking time off his job, that is being the POPE, to engage in any other profession. Given the state of the church these days I would think the man was busy. It may not be a crime, but no good can come of it. Not with this Hollywood and this media industry who will spin anything he says against the Catholic faith. I don’t see giving them hours of footage where they get to tell the Pope what to say helping against the spin.

  20. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    How does the Pope possibly have time for this? Isn’t there an orphanage to visit or a baby to kiss or a Muslim woman’s feet to wash, or an atheist to give an interview to, or a confused comment about homosexuality to make, or an encyclical on immigration reform to write…?

  21. Pigeon says:

    No no no no no

    The pope should not be a celebrity.

    The pope is not Martin Sheen.

    The pope is not Kim Kardashian.

    The pope is not Donald Trump.

    The pope is not a celebrity!

    The pope is a priest, a bishop, a patriarch, the pastor of the universal church, the successor of Peter, and the vicar of Christ! The pope is not a celebrity.

  22. Chrisc says:

    I admit, I originally voted that this was awful. But, I have seen the light. This is really wonderful. Like it or not Francis is Pope and he is only pope for so many years— forget one movie, I would be happy to have him record a live reading of OED. I’d be happy for him to do as many Lord of the Rings films as Peter Jackson’s ego wishes to make. And I would be really happy if he led a thousand mile mariachi procession through each of the -Stan countries. He’s not so great at this Pope job, so I would encourage him strongly to try out anything else. He’s bound to be better.

  23. Elizabeth D says:

    February Fools Day?!

    Maybe the question is not whether St Peter would have done this, nor whether Pope St Pius XII would have done this, but whether St Francis of Assisi would have done this. And the answer to that could be “maybe.”

  24. Elizabeth D says:

    Wait, I canonized Pope Pius XII. Well, I am probably not being unjust.

  25. kiwiinamerica says:

    Surely some mistake!

    Francis the Humble would never acquiesce to such a stunt.

  26. Polycarpio says:

    Yes, I’m for it. It’s his job to do this. People have mentioned Ven. Pius XII and Pastor Angelicus (1942), and Der veruntreute Himmel (1958), which Fr. Z. posted a clip from a few months ago. Pius XI before him had launched Vatican Radio. St. John Paul II launched the Vatican Television Centre. Benedict XVI launched the @pontifex Twitter account, which has been very successful. I never have believed that the pope must be a prisoner of the Vatican, or of protocol. Ever since St. Peter left Jerusalem, the Petrine ministry is outward bound.

  27. Armchair theologian says:

    Ugh. Just another attention-getter from this Pope. Could also explain why St. Peter’s Square is getting more and more empty at the Wednesday Audiences….

  28. frahobbit says:

    Pope St John Paul ii cut an audio CD that is absolutely amazing. Parts were made just for it. He at one point chants the Pater Noster, he does the Beatitudes, and some poetry. So I think this can come out alright, if it’s done the right way.

  29. JuliB says:

    “No… well… I guess not” because of my concern based on MT 10:22 “You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.”

  30. jltuttle says:

    I voted Yes, This is a great idea! because, as COL “Buck” James use to tell us during future operations planning sessions: “Remember gentlemen, there is always opportunity in chaos!”

  31. kurtmasur says:

    Well I voted that I don’t care either way, but now that I think about it, I would probably choose “No” for Pope Francis. The first thing that came to mind is his being unpredictable, and heaven forbid he gets to improvise, or worse yet, if the film ends up having a documentary-style format in which he would be free to go on a tirade of his own choosing, I wouldn’t want to know all the things he would say given the precedence of his press conferences aboard the aircraft.

    On the other hand, I would instead very much welcome seeing the Pope Emeritus having a role in the film :-)

  32. AlexanderAerarius says:

    And Pope Leo XIII appeared in an advertisement for Vin Mariani. So what?

  33. Jared Clark says:

    I voted “Okay” because if the project is good, if the crew doesn’t have to travel far for his cameo, and if it won’t be projected onto St. Peter’s Basilica for movie night, then why not?

  34. Gratias says:

    This is so school on Saturday…no class.

  35. tzard says:

    Well, I voted definitely no, but I’m reconsidering….

    My thought was not about dignity, but about giving in to another creative vision. It’s hard to know what the ultimate goal of anyone in any media business is really going for, and unfotunatley this Pope doesn’t seem to have a good street sense to know when he’s being used. I might not object if it was truly a documentary (and the Pope wasn’t acting) or the Pope had personal creative control over the project.

    But then I considered that they make movies about Jesus all the time where the writers put their own spin (even if done in good faith) on the Gospel. Even the choice of Jesus’ face is a creative decision. You see the same thing in medieval artwork. Am I being an Iconoclast? So, maybe I’m making a big deal about nothing.

    Someday they will digitally sample the Pope and make a movie without his participation or permission, ala Max Headroom or Arny in the latest Terminator movie.

  36. haydn seeker says:

    Pope Francis would be fine in a silent movie. But with a speaking role? My heart sinks a little bit.

  37. oldconvert says:

    I voted terrible idea because, having friends who are actors, I have heard enough horror stories over the years about what happens when films are cut and edited. What goes on before the camera bears not necessarily any resemblance to what finally makes it on screen. Plus, audiences are unpredictable in their reactions – just look at how reviews and ratings of films change over the years! Pope Francis and his advisors on this may truly believe that they have total control over this project, but are they really that media savvy? Ultimately it’s money that talks.

  38. Kerry says:

    “Francis will play himself.” ‘Himself’ is no longer Cardinal Bergoglio, but the Vicar of Christ. There is ample confusion now. Who is it that will be playing “himself”, and which ‘self’ will be the hidden actor. (Clark Gable was always Clark Gable. Charles Laughton has been Bligh, Gracchus, Henry Hobson, Henry VIII et. al.)
    Who will Francis ‘play’?

  39. LarryW2LJ says:

    I suppose the intention is good, but my first (gut) reaction was that it seems to smack of “Me!”.

    But then, who am I to judge?

  40. Markus says:

    First No, then Yes. Here’s why:
    a. The lines will be written by a professional scriptwriter (hopefully)
    b. The director can order many “takes”
    c. There is always the film editor

    Perhaps then one will be able to comprehend the true intent of the message.

  41. misternaser says:

    Pope Pius XII appeared in the 1956 Cinerama film “Seven Wonders of the World” and it’s really quite profound.

  42. george says:

    I think this is a bad idea, as it is beneath the dignity of the Office of the Supreme Pontiff.

  43. Laura says:

    I thought Pope Francis is supposed to be the epitome of all humbleness? You know, brown shoes and eating in the canteen and riding around in a Ford Focus and all that? Sad to say but it sure looks like this pope, unlike some (Pope Benedict comes to mind) lives for the spotlight to be on himself EVERY SINGLE DAY. There is not one day that passes that we are not accosted with more of what Francis did or said. I am suffering so badly from FES (Francis Exhaustion Syndrome) but I offer it up for my future time in purgatory. (I sure hope you can bank suffering.) Seriously, it saddens me beyond all measure that in a time when Christians are being martyred for the faith and over 60 million people have died in the US alone from abortion that we have a celebrity pope who is seemingly unconcerned. God help us.

  44. I tipped ever so slightly against, because that’s what I’d have said had the Holy Father asked. That said, if the pope himself chooses to do it, I will defer to his judgment. He is pope, and I am not.

    I find myself thinking, what would Saint Paul do? I think he would appear in a film.

  45. Bosco says:

    I believe Francis might do well to work more assiduously on his day job before undertaking another career.

  46. Joe in Canada says:

    I voted definitely not, bad idea. But it appears he is not “playing” himself so much as being himself. http://www.voanews.com/content/pope-francis-appear-film-not-as-actor-vatican-says/3172789.html

  47. AvantiBev says:

    Joe in Canada hits pretty close to the mark. As a professional actress, I can concur that the Pope is not becoming an actor — contrary to what many of you may believe that talent takes YEARS to develop into an art and a craft worth an audience’s $$. No, he will probably just BE himself on film. However, it will be interesting to see if he has to join the film actors’ union in Argentina. :-)

  48. mike cliffson says:

    Our dear Pope, who ArchBish had once been
    got a cameo role on big screen
    the faithfuls’ acclaim
    meant the next Pope who came
    owned an Oscar from twenty eighteen

  49. This is not a first. Pope Pius XII appeared in the feature film (not a documentary), Embezzled Heaven, in 1958.

    Here is the scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8aLzycbkHhc

    If it was okay for Pius XII, I’m okay with it now.

  50. WYMiriam says:

    I voted “no, this is a really bad idea” — for the simple reason that the religious leader of more than a billion of the world’s people really ought to have more important things to do, as Kathleen10 said: “A pope should have more important things to do, with the genocide in the Middle East and the Islamic threat, among other things. How heartbreaking to think of people suffering and dying for their faith, while the pope plays a part in a film.”

    I have been curious for a long time during the current parenthesis: for all the “news” about what Pope Francis is doing (which, coming from ZENIT and VIS, is not about what he is doing but what he is saying), there is little news about what the rest of “the Vatican” is doing. For instance, has the Pope any diplomats working with nations that are at war (or threatening war), in an effort to get them to lay down their weapons and come to a bargaining table? I’m not sure that’s more important than a movie “communicat[ing] Jesus’ message to children,” but . . . it’s certainly AS important, no? But . . . . is it happening?

  51. AlexanderAerarius says:

    That video was fascinating. As an aside, all that clapping reminded me of our host’s post about John XXIII and the templum Dei.

  52. Indulgentiam says:

    Pope Pius XII was not in a movie. A New York Times Article published April 1959, right after the film,
    ‘Embezzled Heaven'(1958) was made, states;
    “The film offers one memorable sequence, as interwoven documentary footage, in magnificent color and spectacle, shows a mass audience before the late Pope under the dome of St. Peter’s.”

    Pope Pius had better use for his time. Like personally helping air raid victims of the war https://wdtprs.com/2012/08/ven-pius-xii/
    The rumor that PPXII was in a movie is probably being spread by the enemies of the Church to give credence to the rumor that Pope Francis will star in a movie. A rumor that has just been deflated.
    “Vatican disputes Pope film claim, says Pope is not an actor”

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