Mark Zuckerberg, Pope Francis Discuss Bringing the Internet to Disadvantaged

Pope Francis Mark Zuckerberg Priscilla Chan
Facebook/Priscilla Chan

Pope Francis greeted Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan on Monday for a private audience at The Vatican.

According to the Holy See Press Office, the Pontiff and Facebook CEO spoke about “how to use communication technologies to alleviate poverty, encourage a culture of encounter, and help deliver a message of hope, especially to those people who are most disadvantaged.”

During the meeting, Zuckerberg presented Pope Francis a model of the Aquila, a solar-powered aircraft that will beam internet connectivity to locations that do not have it. In July, the first full-scale test flight of the Aquila was held. Eventually, Zuckerberg hopes to serve 1.6 billion unconnected people with the technology.

He and Chan also discussed their namesake initiative, which made headlines last year after the couple announced they would be donating 99% of their Facebook shares to it.

In a Facebook post, Zuckerberg called meeting the Pope “an honor” and on “we’ll never forget.” “You can feel his warmth and kindness, and how deeply he cares about helping people,” he added.

Chan echoed her husband’s sentiments in her own Facebook post. She wrote: “It was also a special experience to connect with him in his native language of Spanish.” (Pope Francis is from Buenos Aires, Argentina.)

Pope Francis is one of the most socially engaged leaders in the world, regularly tweeting to his 9 million followers. The Pontiff does not have an official Facebook page, but the Vatican Radio — the official broadcasting service of the Vatican — has over 1.2 million followers.

After the Vatican, Zuckerberg and Chan met with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in Rome. They discussed how the Facebook community aided victims from last week’s earthquake connect and implement recovery efforts. Zuckerberg changed back into his trademark gray t-shirt for a Facebook Live town hall with Rome residents following the meeting.

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