Pope meets with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg

IMAGE: CNS/L’Osservatore Romano

By Junno Arocho Esteves

Continuing his dialogue with leaders in the world of social media and technology, Pope Francis
met with Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg and his wife,
Priscilla Chan, met the
pope Aug. 29 in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where the pope lives.

“It is an honor to be with you today,” Zuckerberg told the
pope, adding that he hoped to help spread
the pope’s “message of mercy and tenderness.”

He also presented Pope
Francis with a model replica of Aquila, a solar-powered aircraft that will beam
internet connectivity to areas with limited or no connection.

Greg Burke, Vatican
spokesman, said the pope and Zuckerberg spoke about “how communications
technology can be used to alleviate poverty, encourage a culture of encounter
and help deliver a message of hope, especially to the most disadvantaged

Francis presented Zuckerberg and his wife with a copy of “The Name of God
is Mercy,” a book-length interview he did with Italian journalist, Andrea
Tornielli. In the
book, he told them, “are my thoughts on tenderness and mercy.”

a message posted on his personal Facebook page, Zuckerberg expressed his
admiration for the pope and “how he’s found new ways to communicate with
people of every faith around the world.”

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

Throughout his papacy, the
pope has highlighted the importance of social networks as a means to “facilitate
relationships” while warning of their ability to “lead to further polarization and
division” if used incorrectly.

“The digital world is a
public square, a meeting place
where we can either encourage or demean one another, engage in a meaningful
discussion or unfair attacks,” the pope wrote Jan. 24 in his message
marking the 50th World Communications Day.

Earlier this year, the pope
met with several notable tech-giants in the world of mobile communications,
including Google’s Eric Schmidt and Apple CEO Tim Cook.

He also met with Kevin
Systrom, CEO and co-founder of Instagram, two weeks before the Vatican launched
the pope’s Instagram account, “Franciscus.” Upon its launch, the
account broke a new record for gaining over 1 million followers in 12 hours.

Pope Francis’ Twitter account,
@Pontifex, has also left its mark in the social media landscape with over 30
million followers spread across nine different language accounts.

Twiplomacy, a study of the Twitter accounts of world
leaders and their retweet rates, declared the pope “by far the most
influential” world leader on Twitter.

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Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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