Beliefs

Pope Francis meets Apple CEO

Pope Francis has been meeting with Silicon Valley technology forces, including Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Pope Francis has been meeting with Silicon Valley technology forces, including Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Pope Francis has been meeting with Silicon Valley technology forces, including Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

 VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Francis is increasingly turning his attention to the stars of Silicon Valley, meeting Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, just days after shaking hands with Eric Schmidt from Google.

The pontiff spent around 15 minutes in a private conversation with Cook on Friday (Jan. 22). Francis regularly meets with dignitaries at the Vatican, but the arrival of the Apple chief raised eyebrows particularly for its timing.

Just a week earlier the pope had met with Schmidt, currently executive chairman of Alphabet Inc., parent company of Google, where he served as CEO for a decade.

Francis has confessed to being a “dinosaur” when it comes to technology, shunning the Internet and television as well. But the pope is well aware of the importance of technology in mobilizing Catholic youth, one key area of his papacy, and once called the Internet a “gift from God.”

Marking the World Day of Social Communications on Friday, Francis said it was up to individuals to decide whether they choose to harness the Internet for good or bad.

“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,” he said. “The internet can be used wisely to build a society which is healthy and open to sharing.”


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Image of Pope Francis taken from a Google Hangout stormed the Web with likes on Dec. 14, 2015. Photo courtesy of Instagram.

In the pope’s meetings with Cook and Schmidt, he may have found common ground aside from technology. The Apple CEO pledged last year to donate his fortune to charity, while the Alphabet chairman has a family foundation dedicated to the sustainable use of energy — an area close to Francis’ heart.

Ahead of Cook’s arrival at the Vatican, Apple on Thursday announced a new app development center in Italy. The tech hub will be located in Naples, southern Italy, which has suffered from organized crime and was visited by Francis in March 2015.

But Cook’s visit to the Vatican could prove controversial among conservative Catholics, as in 2014 he became the first head of a Fortune 500 company to come out as gay. The Catholic Church continues to hold a negative view of same-sex relationships, deeming them “intrinsically disordered,” although Francis is viewed as having a more welcoming stance than his predecessors.

About the author

Rosie Scammell

Rosie Scammell is a British journalist with extensive experience reporting for leading international news organizations. She has been based in Italy since 2012 and covers the Vatican for RNS.

21 Comments

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  • Doing business with the Vatican is like selling weapons to the enemy… I guess it´s all about the money…

  • These are short meetings, akin to a President travelling somewhere to sign a treaty – the real work has been done before through other channels. Makes me wonder why both Google and Apple’s CEOs have been called to agree to what with the Vatican?

  • Because after the pope indicted Nuzzi and Fittipaldi (authors of two books about Vatican financial corruption) at least thirteen freedom-of-the-press organizations condemned the move. Since then, other than the trip to Africa and the routine Christmas message, the mainstream secular media has not produced the same fawning reporting as RNS that had become customary for this super-star pope. Ergo, the pope is turning to digital media.

  • I think the Pope as a moral leader is correct in meeting with the heads of the two largest social media service agencies in the world. He cam encourage them to permit the expression of free speech and not persecute users for their religious beliefs like the U.S. government is doing. Obama is fining a religious order of nuns $2.5 million for not changing their religious beliefs about abortion and not including the abortion pill in their health care plans. That kind of behavior on the Internet penalizing religion and eliminating freedom to discuss one’s religious beliefs would be terrible. Some books I publish at http://www.wrparks.com contain Christian beliefs which some day might be censored or not allowed for publication by totalitarian dictators..

  • “Obama (lie) is fining (lie) a religious order of nuns $2.5 million (lie) for not changing their religious beliefs about abortion (lie) and not including the abortion pill in their health care plans. (lie)

    Five lies in one sentence. If you cannot tell the truth about MR. Obama, the nuns, and the contraception mandate, why should anyone believe what else you have to say?

  • “The internet can be used wisely to build a society which is healthy and open to sharing.” – POPE FRANCIS

    Popes talk about ‘openness’ until you question their superstitions and their enforcement of those superstitions across society:

    The Pope OPPOSES:

    Universal Human Rights including Women’s Equal Rights
    Unconditional Love for Gays
    Contraception
    LGBT rights
    Universal Freedom of Speech
    Free Inquiry
    Transparent Government
    Religious Debate (Jihad, Sin, Paternalism, Papal infallibility)
    Justice for Rape Victims
    Church/State Separation
    Blasphemy (a victimless crime)

    Human progress is stunted by this superstitious nonsense.

    POPE FRANCIS is a doddering celebrity – A Vatican Colonel Sanders.
    KFC isn’t real chicken and the RCC isn’t real progress.
    It lacks all nutrition.

  • Just the name “pro-life” is an obvious lie. Anti-abortion activists know the only alternative to legal, safe abortion is botched back room abortions and butchered real, live American citizens. When they start with that big of a lie, it’s no surprise everything else they claim is a lie.

    Funny how “Thou Shalt Not Lie” is of no concern to these very “religious” people.

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