Whoopi Goldberg: ‘I’ve waited years to thank Pope Francis for his message!’

Actress and activist Whoopi Goldberg discusses the importance of fighting the good fight, in whatever way possible, as we strive to respond to Pope Francis’ appeal for hope, love and inclusion to heal our broken world.

By Francesca Merlo and Sr. Nina Benedikta Krapić, VMZ

“Does the Vatican have bees?”

“The Vatican does not have bees.”

“The Vatican should have bees…”

Whoopi Goldberg, actress, activist, and… beekeeper, stresses that “having bees brings attention to the fact that bees are dying all around the planet…”

“Maybe,” she suggested, “I should send the Pope some bees.”

Whoopi uttered these words as she contemplated a photo of beekeepers and their swarm – part of an exhibition curated by Lia and Marianna Beltrami which she visited after having been received by the Pope on Thursday.

Entitled “Changes”, the exhibition shows the dramatic changes caused by climate change on the earth, on animals, and on humans and how the poor and minorities are those affected the most.

Almost eleven years for a “thank you”

Whoopi Goldberg says she has waited almost eleven years to meet the Pope. Yesterday, 12th October, she finally managed to do so and utter the words she’s been holding onto for so long. Simple words: “Thank you”.

The drama told by the photos displayed in the Holy See Press Office is one that Pope Francis has dedicated so much of his pontificate to: “to the lack of love and the need for it” and to the importance of fighting for inclusion and preservation.

Reiterating the fact she loves Pope Francis’ message, Whoopi said she believes that a leader must give voice to his or her message just as he does: “He says we have to love everybody” and we must remember that it is not up to us to forgive, but up to God, and that the rest, she adds, “quite frankly, is none of your business.

Times of change

It’s true, she added, that when Whoopi was young, Pope John XXIII gave impetus to some important changes in the Church to reflect the changing world, the Hollywood star we all remember in “Sister Act” and “Ghost”, to name just two blockbusters, was eager to express her appreciation for Pope Francis’ message of inclusion.

“He is the first to have said it. To have told people to ‘stop telling people that God doesn’t love them. Stop telling them not to come to Church’.” Noting that some people get divorced and others are gay, she said: “You may not agree, but we all know that God doesn’t make any mistakes.”

Whoopi said that in her opinion Pope Francis has the right message to heal the world, noting that “not everybody can be a messenger, and not everybody is cut out to fight.” However, she added, “We can all talk about it, and that can sometimes be the best weapon with which to fight injustice.”

Problems that need to be spoken about

Reflecting on the photos she had just seen displayed in the Holy See Press Office, Whoopi noted that Pope Francis’ message is similar to that portrayed by the photos.

“It’s a message for everyone,” she said. “The pictures tell us that we have a problem and that each problem is an individual one in an individual place but that when we put them all together… it’s the world. It looks like its piecemeal but it isn’t, it’s really part of a much bigger picture.”

One such injustice is being fought by Maria, photographed in Brazil the day after a group of children went missing, kidnapped by suspected organ traffickers.

“She’s fighting on 50 different levels” and, in whatever way is possible to us, “we should be fighting with her,” said Whoopi, “so that we can say we are seeing this, we see you, and we will tell everybody what we saw.”

That’s precisely why, according to Whoopi, we should “take pictures, send them, send them everywhere, put them up, put them everywhere, put them up in your town……maybe people don’t know what’s going on. Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk…”

Messengers come in different forms

She too is a messenger. Replying to a question from Sr. Nina regarding her role as a nun in the famous “Sister Act” movies, Whoopi says she recognises the impact she has had and how vocations increased after Sister Act: “I’ve met nuns around the world who still sing the songs from the film.”

One of the sisters in Whoopi’s life was the late Sr. Jean Fielder, a teacher and best friend who, according to the actress knew the difficulties people faced in their daily lives and never gave up on them.

“That’s who I was channelling in Sister Act,” she explained. “I thought I had a calling,” she continued… but “It was more of a ‘pssssst’ than a ‘hey!’ but it’s still in me, somewhere!”

You, and you, and you

Finally, reflecting on how each one of us is different and entitled to feeling things differently, Whoopi said she feels that inclusion rather than exclusion, rejection and marginalization that fuel hate is the path to healing.

“Saying ‘no, not you’… that’s what fuels hate in the world; the real answer is ‘Yes them! And you, and you, and you…”

Pic: Sr Nina and Sr Bernadette admit that they sing Sister Act songs to Whoopi Goldberg