Fernando Meirelles, Director of Netflix’s “The Two Popes, Hopes Film Will Foster Unity and Dialogue

This image released by Netflix shows Jonathan Pryce as Cardinal Bergoglio, right, and Anthony Hopkins as Pope Benedict in a scene from “The Two Popes.” (Peter Mountain/Netflix via AP)

“The Two Popes” director Fernando Meirelles said he hopes the forthcoming Netflix drama will foster unity and dialogue in a society he described as being largely devoid of compassion, empathy, and mercy.

“The whole world is very polarized right now,” Meirelles (“City of God,” “The Constant Gardener”), told The Christian Post in an exclusive interview. “We don’t know how to disagree anymore. We want to eliminate whoever thinks differently.

“Unfortunately, the Church is not immune from this,” he added. “We’re creating a very unfair society where we continue to build walls instead of bridges, and my hope is that ‘The Two Popes’ causes us to re-think the way we approach those we disagree with.”

Starring Anthony Hopkins (“The Silence of the Lambs”) as the retiring Pope Benedict XVI, and Jonathan Pryce (“Brazil,” “Carrington”), as Pope Francis, “The Two Popes” is an imagined series of conversations between the two pontiffs. The two very different men must confront their pasts and rely on mercy, understanding, and forgiveness to find common ground and forge a future for the faithful around the world.

Nominated for four Golden Globes, the film humanizes the two Catholic leaders, offering the timely reminder that religious leaders are fallible individuals who require tolerance and understanding, Meirelles said.

“Both of these men struggle with forgiveness and self-forgiveness for mistakes they’ve made in their past,” the Brazilian director said. “At the end of the day, they’re humans and they represent an institution. They’re fallible. I wanted the film to have the perspective that, you believe in God, but you are not God. You are human, and you can fail. I believe that very much.”

A professing Catholic — although “not a very good one,” Meirelles said of himself — he’s “fascinated” with Francis, whom he said has pushed the Catholic Church to re-examine its approach to inclusion and mercy.

“I was never interested in the Vatican until Pope Francis came along,” he admitted. “And he is such a charming guy with interesting thoughts on science and other issues, yet he is a pretty divisive figure within the Church. I became a big fan of his. Pope Francis’ main message is mercy, which is why that is one of the biggest themes in this film.”

The pontiff, Meirelles contended, can be credited with bringing young people back to the Catholic Church.

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SOURCE: The Christian Post, Leah MarieAnn Klett