Pope Francis Receives Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg in Vatican

Pope Francis shakes hands with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during a meeting at the Vatican August 29, 2016. Osservatore Romano/Handout via Reuters
Osservatore Romano/Handout via Reuters

On Monday, Pope Francis received Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, at his Vatican residence, together with Zuckerberg’s wife, Priscilla Chan.

According to the new Director of the Vatican Press Office, Greg Burke, the two men talked about “how to use communications technology to alleviate poverty, encourage a culture of encounter, and send a message of hope, especially to the most disadvantaged.”

In his own Facebook post after the encounter, Zuckerberg said the meeting had been an “honor” and expressed his admiration for the Pope’s “message of mercy and tenderness” as well as his innovation in reaching out to “people of every faith around the world.”

“We also discussed the importance of connecting people, especially in parts of the world without internet access.”

Zuckerberg said that he had given the Pope a model of Aquila, a solar-powered drone “that will beam internet connectivity to places that don’t have it.”

“It was a meeting we’ll never forget. You can feel his warmth and kindness, and how deeply he cares about helping people,” Zuckerberg wrote.

The prime motive for Zuckerberg’s visit to Italy was the recent earthquake that rocked the Umbria region, leaving more than 300 dead. He has lately been positioning himself as a sort of Silicon Valley ambassador, with highly publicized visits to disaster sites and public trips to places like China.

While in the country, Zuckerberg also attended the wedding of Spotify CEO Daniel Ek and met with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

The tech leader has further ties with Rome as he had honeymooned there with his wife Priscilla and says he is a student of Latin and classical history.

The Pope himself is no stranger to the power of social media and has been ranked one of the world’s most influential Twitter users, with more than 27 million followers.

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