ROME — Pope Francis received Italian American director Martin Scorsese for a private meeting in the Vatican on Wednesday.
Scorsese, who directed the controversial 1988 film The Last Temptation of Christ and is currently working on a movie of the life of Jesus, has said that when he thinks of Pope Francis, he thinks of “compassion.”
In Wednesday’s meeting, the 81-year-old director presented Pope Francis with a book chronicling the making of his Oscar-nominated film Killers of the Flower Moon.
Papal confidant Father Antonio Spadaro, a harsh critic of American Christians, gushed effusively over the meeting, insisting that it formed part of an ongoing dialogue between “two men of genius and experience for whom the figure of Christ has an extraordinary fascination and value.”
Vatican News also offered superlative praise for Scorsese, calling him “one of the greatest and most important film-makers in the history of cinema.”
Wednesday’s meeting was just the latest in a series of face-to-face encounters between Francis and Scorsese, which includes meetings in 2018, 2019, 2021, and 2023.
Earlier this month, Scorsese announced he had finished the screenplay for a new movie that will make Jesus’ teachings “more accessible” and credited Pope Francis with inspiring him to make the film.
Scorsese told the Los Angeles Times that he wants to strip religion of its institutionality and go back to the “original impulse” that makes spirituality attractive.
“I’m trying to find a new way to make it more accessible and take away the negative onus of what has been associated with organized religion,” Scorsese said.
“Right now, ‘religion,’ you say that word and everyone is up in arms because it’s failed in so many ways,” the director said. “But that doesn’t mean necessarily that the initial impulse was wrong. Let’s get back.”
“Let’s just think about it. You may reject it. But it might make a difference in how you live your life — even in rejecting it. Don’t dismiss it offhand. That’s all I’m talking about,” he added.
“I have responded to the pope’s appeal to artists in the only way I know how: by imagining and writing a screenplay for a film about Jesus,” he said.
Of Francis, Scorsese has said: “I think it’s remarkable that this man is our Pope. It’s a blessing. And I feel blessed to have met him.”