VATICAN CITY — On Sunday, Pope Francis praised Hollywood actors George Clooney, Salma Hayek, and Richard Gere at a conference promoting a Vatican education initiative that helps poor communities.
Speaking in the Paul VI’s Synod Hall, the Pope reminded the celebrities of their responsibility to “help the world recover the language of gestures.”
During the gathering, the actors received the “Olive Medal” of peace, which were presented by the Scholas Occurentes initiative, who organized the Vatican conference.
Touching on a separate topic altogether, Francis said he does not intend to step down from the papacy, as Benedict XVI did when he became the first pope to resign in centuries.
“I never thought of quitting being pope, or of leaving because of the many responsibilities,” the Pope said during a Q&A session.
The Argentine-founded Scholas Occurentes is an education initiative which aims to promote “integration of communities” — especially poor communities — through the use of “technology, sports, and artistic proposals,” according to its website.
The initiative, which works in various kinds of schools of different religious affiliations, is present in 82 countries and 400,000, with headquarters in Vatican City, Argentine, Spain, Paraguay and Mozambique.
The May 27-29 conference also marks the launch of the Scholas’s latest initiative: a new website which allows anyone to ask Pope Francis questions.
Speaking in Spanish, Pope Francis praised the gathering for its climate of communication and encounter, offering a bridge in a world which is at risk of being “fragmented.”
The Pope encouraged gestures such as smiling and making eye contact, and being patient and tolerant. In contrast, “bullying is an aggression that hides a deep cruelty,” he said. “The world is cruel.”
“To build a new world, a better world, we must banish all kinds of cruelty. And war is cruel. But this kind of war more cruelly still rages because an innocent.”
The Pope said that the separation of peoples, families, and friends create animosity and hatred, where as “social friendship” defends “against every kind of throwaway culture.”