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Robert De Niro to play pope

17:18, September 15

Robert De Niro is set to play pope, NME has learned. 

The Taxi Driver, Godfather and Meet the Fockers star is rumoured to play Pope Pius IX, a 19th century leader of Catholics around the world. The film will be made by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and shooting is expected to start in January.

The film will tell the story of the Catholic Church's kidnap of a six-year-old boy.

NME says it will be in direct competition with Stephen Spielberg's film which tells the exact same story with Mark Rylance playing Pope Pius IX.

The film will tell the tale of how as a child Edgardo Mortara was taken from his Jewish parents by police in Bologna, Italy, in 1857 and raised as a Catholic under Pope Pius IX's protection.

The child repeatedly asked to return home but was refused and eventually became a priest.

Pope Pius IX was born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti and was pope from 1846 to his death in 1878.

He was the longest-reigning elected pope in the history of the Catholic Church and served for more than 31 years.

Pope Pius IX was made a saint in 2000.

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