Kevin Smith declares Pope Francis a 'very hip cat' for his 'impressive and progressive' views

"Everything he says... is shockingly impressive and progressive and I never thought I'd see something like that, a pope like this, in my lifetime," "Dogma" director Kevin Smith noted.
By Karen Butler   |   Dec. 30, 2015 at 12:43 PM
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NEW YORK, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Dogma writer-director Kevin Smith, one of Hollywood's most prominent Catholics, has nothing but high praise for Pope Francis, who became an unlikely breakout star in 2015.

The 79-year-old, Argentinian pontiff took office in 2013 and visited the United States for the first time this fall.

During his tour, he urged lawmakers and political leaders to make the world a better, more peaceful place and greeted millions of well-wishers on stops to New York City, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia Sept. 22-27.

His trip was documented by morning-television programs and gently teased by late-night, talk-show hosts. The visit was deemed a great success and the pope was widely lauded for his down-to-earth demeanor, generosity of spirit and messages of mercy, respect and inclusion.

Asked at New York Comic Con in early October if he had the chance to meet the pontiff during his U.S tour, Smith told UPI: "No! I was in Australia when the pope was here!"

"I would have loved to meet him. He seems like a very hip cat," Smith added. "Everything he says in terms of Catholicism -- and not just Catholicism, but for the 21st century -- is shockingly impressive and progressive and I never thought I'd see something like that, a pope like this, in my lifetime.

"He's like the Buddy Christ pope," Smith declared, nodding to a joke in his 1999 religion-themed comedy Dogma where a church cardinal played by the late George Carlin unveils a statue of a friendly, modern-looking Jesus Christ as part of his "Catholicism Wow!" re-branding campaign.

Christian media mogul Oprah Winfrey also appears to be enthralled by Pope Francis' personality and opinions.

"I loved when the pope was here," Winfrey confessed on the Oct. 14 edition of CBS This Morning.

"My favorite moment with the pope – my favorite, favorite moment -- is after he has been on the balcony and spoken to Congress and he says to the crowd, 'Pray for me and, if you don't believe in prayer, just send me good wishes.' ... A goose-bump moment because I thought it was such a way of being inclusive without saying, 'And now I shall be inclusive of you non-praying people.'"

Catholic actor-producer Mark Wahlberg also hosted this year's World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in the pope's honor.

"As a Catholic, I credit much of my success to my faith," Wahlberg said in a statement before the festival. "It is an honor to be a part of welcoming Pope Francis to Philadelphia and I am humbled to join this celebration."

Among those at the event were Aretha Franklin, The Fray, Jim Gaffigan, Andrea Bocelli, Juanes and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

In keeping with his newfound, rock-star-like status, Wake Up!, a Vatican-approved music album featuring the pope's voice, was released in late November.

USA Today said the leader of the Roman Catholic Church can be heard speaking and praying throughout the record's 11 tracks, variously in Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and English, accompanied by choirs and solo vocalists.

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