Irish singer Bono calls pope 'extraordinary man for extraordinary times'

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Bono, the lead singer of the Irish
band U2, said he told Pope Francis that in Ireland “it looks as though the
abusers are being more protected than the victims. And you could see the pain
in his face.”

Bono met the pope Sept. 19 to sign an agreement between his
charity, ONE, and the Scholas Occurentes educational charity supported by Pope

During the half-hour meeting, Bono said, he brought up Pope
Francis’ recent trip to Ireland and the concerns there about the sexual abuse

The pope was “aghast,” Bono said. “I thought
he was sincere.”

“I think he is an extraordinary man for extraordinary
times,” the singer said.

ONE is a campaign and advocacy effort working to end extreme
poverty, especially in Africa. One of its current focuses, Bono told reporters
Sept. 19, is education for girls and young women. Some “130 million girls
around the world do not go to school, because they are girls,” he said.

“Poverty is sexist” is the campaign slogan, he

Scholas began in Pope Francis’ Archdiocese of Buenos Aires,
supporting education in poor neighborhoods by pairing their schools with
private schools and institutions in wealthier neighborhoods. The organization
has grown to other countries and supports a variety of exchange programs aimed
at promoting education, encouraging creativity and teaching young people about
respect, tolerance and peace.

“We haven’t figured out what we are going to do
together,” Bono said, “but we sort of have a crush on each

Describing the pope, Bono said that “honestly, he is
quite a radical thinker and I felt quite old-fashioned sitting next to
him.” Bono was talking about teaching children how to read and write and “get
to advanced math and art later. And he was like, ‘Start with art. And start with
the creative life and you’ll get a better result.'”

Bono said the conversation touched on many topics, including
poverty, commerce and meeting the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.

They spoke, he said, “about how we have to rethink the
wild beast that is capitalism and how, though it is not immoral, it is amoral
and it requires our instruction. He’s very keen on that.”

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