Stephen K Amos doesn’t go a bundle on the Catholic Church, so when he learned that a BBC programme in which he featured would include a meeting with Pope Francis he said said no.
I’ve been quite vocal in my criticism in certain aspects of the Catholic Church. I thought a private audience meant you go and see him, he blesses you and you leave. I couldn’t in all conscience go and do that, it’s not me.
Then I said I’d only go if we can ask questions. The producers asked, well, what sort of questions, as we don’t want to spark a diplomatic incident. So we gave in some questions and the answer came back from the Vatican that the Pope will answer any questions that you have.
The comedian was one of eight celebrities who participated in the BBC2 show Pilgrimage: The Road To Rome.
They begin their pilgrimage in Switzerland and had 15 days to travel the more than 600 miles to Rome. The programme lasted three episodes, with the finale airing on Good Friday.
Amos told the Pope:
So me coming on this pilgrimage, being non-religious, I was looking for answers and faith. But as a gay man, I don’t feel accepted.
Responding through an interpreter the Pope said:
Later Amos said he was “blindsided” by the response, which he called:
Giving more importance to the adjective rather than the noun, this is not good. We are all human beings and have dignity. It does not matter who you are or how you live your life, you do not lose your dignity. There are people that prefer to select or discard people because of the adjective – these people don’t have a human heart.
Quite magnificent. He didn’t shut anybody down, he was very clear in what we said about all being God’s children, all the things you don’t normally hear. So I was in full respect of the man. I had already planned what I would do if he had said something I didn’t agree with or that would add more shame on people’s lives. I would have respectfully excused myself. I couldn’t live with myself otherwise.
It’s doubtful whether this response pleased another of the participants – “Dana” Rosemary Scallon, above, a former Member of the European Parliament. Scallon is well-known in Ireland for her strong opposition to abortion and gay marriage. In a 2014 video she suggested that “pro-homosexual” laws would lead to the banning of Christianity.
She told the Pope:
At this difficult time for our Church we long for truth, and we know that it is very difficult.
She assured Francis of her prayers.
Speaking in English, the Pope responded:
You pray for me. I need it. This job is not easy.
The Pope told the group that life is a journey:
Whether you have faith or do not have faith. For those of you who are believers, pray for me. For those of you who do not believe, could you wish me a good journey, so I do not let anyone down.