Imagine you had an hour to talk candidly with the Pope. What would you say? This question sounds like a classic dinner party conversation prompt, but for ten young people from around the globe, it was a real opportunity and they made the most of it. And – it was all caught on camera in Hulu’s The Pope: Answers.
The film introduces ten 20-somethings as they engage in raw, honest conversation with Pope Francis. Their questions start out simple and silly: asking him if he has a cell phone, gets a paycheck, or ever dated before becoming a priest. But they don’t waste their time with small talk. Soon, they dive into the grittier conversations that make the film worth watching.
What makes the film so special is that it isn’t just a neutral interviewer asking the Pope questions about his stance on controversial issues. Their questions are spoken from the heart, interwoven with personal stories and nuance.
The young people are so diverse that everyone who watches the movie has someone they can relate to:
There’s a woman grappling with how to reconcile her Catholicism and her feminism. There’s a girl who is very traditional and devout. There are practicing Catholics, lapsed Catholics, a Protestant, a Muslim, and those who are atheist or agnostic.
There’s a girl who protests outside abortion clinics and another who helps women get abortions. There’s a nonbinary person, a lesbian, and a single mother. There’s a woman who is a sex worker/cam girl at night so she can stay home with her daughter during the day and who says she is empowered by this career.
There’s a guy who was abused by a priest and felt he was never given justice by the Vatican court proceedings. There’s a woman who used to be a nun and felt she was psychologically abused, and left her order and the faith.
I was so impressed by each person’s poise, courage, and grace. They are all respectful; no one seems like they are there with an agenda or to bait the Pope into say something inflammatory. It all seems very earnest. But they also push back at times if they aren't satisfied with the response they get.
When the Pope refers to abortion doctors as murderers, someone pushes back, saying that with all due respect, that equivalency lacks nuance. When Pope Francis tells the abuse survivor that he will ask the Vatican court to revisit his case, someone pushes back that, respectfully, that isn’t good enough. If he is only able to get justice by getting face time with the Pope, what about the others who don’t have that privilege?
Pope Francis never becomes defensive. He explains himself, but he does so with humility and earnestness. He always keeps the person, rather than the issue, at the center of the conversation.
The Pope: Answers gave me hope for what the Church could be like if we, the people, speak up for ourselves with a combination of candor, grace, and resolve – and if the clergy respond in a humble, Christ-like way. The film showed me that the voices of young people from diverse backgrounds are integral to bringing out the best in our Church.