Gabriel Byrne: 'Corporations Are the New Dictators'

Gabriel Byrne HBO Emmy Party - P 2013
Kristian Dowling/Getty Images

Gabriel Byrne HBO Emmy Party - P 2013

The star of History's "Vikings" spoke candidly in a radio interview about politics and why Pope Francis may not be able to alter Catholic Church policies.

Gabriel Byrne, star of History's Vikings and formerly of HBO's In Treatment, gave an extended interview where he discussed the current makeup of the Catholic Church, the "corporate paymasters" who hold power in government and his disillusionment with politics.

"Where issues used to be, say, parochial or local in Ireland or England and so forth, all politics is global now because all business is global," the actor said to longtime friend Michael Des Barres on his syndicated radio show. "And corporations are the new dictators. Whereas before the dictators had a face -- whether it was Stalin or Hitler or Genghis Khan or whoever -- now the ones who pull the strings and dictate the way society should be structured are an amorphous group."

The interview with Des Barres aired Thursday on online channel TradioV. The actor and writer also talked about Hollywood blockbusters as mythology, his time as culture ambassador for Ireland and the state of Catholicism under Pope Francis

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"I think people have a misplaced hope, in the sense that it's very much like politics in a way," Byrne said of the new pope, citing what he saw as similar disillusionment with recent political administrations in the U.S. and U.K.

"What you have to ask is, can one man change an institution? And I feel the answer is no," the actor said of Francis. "I mean, he can initiate certain reforms in the Vatican, just like [PresidentObama can try to -- well, that's debatable -- to change things within the White House. But unless he radically alters the policies of the Catholic Church, there won't be a change."

Byrne stated that priests deserve the right to get married and that the Church needs to change its policies toward women.

"The Catholic Church is an innately conservative rock -- they call themselves the rock of Peter -- and its resistance to change is, ironically, what has kept it constant throughout the ages," said Byrne.

"I don't disrespect anybody who espouses a particular religion or belief -- that is their own right to do that. But I think it's terribly important to look beyond the comfort that religion gives," Byrne explained.

Byrne, who has appeared in films and TV series for three decades, also spoke to Des Barres about how he approaches balancing work and life.

"I work maybe twice a year, because for me it's terribly important not to be working all the time," he said. "I know I say that with, you know, a certain awareness that I'm very, very lucky to be able to go to work. But, I think, I like not to be too obsessed by the business."

The full interview can be listened to here.