Holy Wow! Did The Pope Really Just Tell People To Stay Out Of Church?

If you thought you had seen it all in 2018, here's one show you didn't think you'd see in 2019.

Throughout the year, Pope Francis holds free, weekly general audiences at the Vatican.

His first one for 2019 kicked off with a rather unexpected bang, featuring a group of colourful Cuban circus performers.

Image: AAP

Dressed in bright and tight lycra and wearing extravagant headpieces, they danced, juggled and performed acrobatics -- to the delight of the pontiff.

Pope Francis also revealed his hidden talent for ball twirling, keeping a soccer ball spinning on his finger for a solid few seconds.

Hidden talent or New Year's resolution? Image: AAP

READ MORE: Cheeky Kid Who Crashed Vatican Stage Gets A Chuckle Out Of the Pope

But the real surprise was when the Pope gave his address:

"I want to say hello and thank the circus artists from the Circus of Cuba," he  told the crowd, before going on to criticise "hypocrites" in the Catholic Church.

"How often do we see the scandals of these people who go to church and are there every day, and then they lead a life in which they hate others or talk badly about other people.

"Better not go to church; live like an atheist."

Safe to say this was an unexpected start to 2019.

Featured image: AAP