Pope Francis is to make his movie debut, but not as an actor

Pope Francis is to become the first Pontiff to appear in a film, but not as an actor, the Vatican has announced.

The Pope will play himself in upcoming film Beyond the Sun, which is a "family adventure" based on the Gospels. Despite conflicting reports, the Vatican announced yesterday that "the pope is not an actor", squashing hopes of the Holy Father becoming a movie star.

Pope Francis has previously called for film-makers to consider how to communicate the gospel to children through moviesReuters

Francis will appear as himself in the film "where children from different cultures emulate the apostles while searching for Jesus in the world around them".

It is inspired by the Pope's encouragement for film-makers to communicate the gospel to children through film.

Shooting is to begin in Italy shortly and all profits from the film will be donated to two charities, El Alemendro and Los Hogares de Cristo. Both charities work with vulnerable children and young adults in Argentina, where Francis was born.

The movie will be funded and produced by AMBI Pictures, a Rome-based film company. Co-founder Andrea Iervolino said: "Our excitement and gratitude toward His Holiness, Pope Francis, participating in this film is beyond words. This is not just a movie for us, it's a message, and who better to have on your side to deliver an important societal and spiritual message than the Pope?"

Lady Monika Bacardi, another co-founder of AMBI said: "It is a great honor for Andrea and I to have the opportunity to work with His Holiness, Pope Francis, to spread the awareness of his message, through this film.

"We will make a movie everyone involved with can be proud of. Not only will families from around globe enjoy this film and be entertained, but they will be moved."

The announcement comes after the Holy Father met with Oscar-nominated actor Leonardo DiCaprio at the Vatican last Friday. However they discussed climate change, not the Pope's upcoming movie career.