Pope Francis greets Jimmy Fallon, Chris Rock and Whoopi Goldberg during Vatican comedian meeting

It’s OK to make fun of God as long as the joke is not offensive, Pope Francis said on Friday in a special audience with about 100 comedians, actors and writers from around the world.

Those meeting him at the Vatican included US celebrities Whoopi Goldberg, Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien, Chris Rock and Stephen Colbert.

Around two-thirds of the guests were Italians.

“Can we also laugh at God? Of course, it’s not blasphemy, we can, just as we play and joke with the people we love,” Francis said.

The pontiff made the remarks after himself coming under fire, and apologising, for the use of an insulting word towards gay people.