Watch Pope Francis Host A Google Hangout, Because He's Truly The Internet Pope
The papacy has officially entered the 21st century. Pope Francis chatted on Google Hangout with schoolchildren Thursday morning in honor of his new global education initiative, Scholas. The pontiff, who's shared his love for social media and technology in the past, talked with groups of students from five different schools from around the globe: Israel, Australia, South Africa, El Salvador and Turkey.
During the 20-minute-long Google+ conversation, Francis spoke mainly in his native language, Spanish. The children came prepared with some questions about discrimination, world peace and the Catholic faith — you know, all the easy questions. Of course, the ever-affable pontiff handled it well, emphasizing respect and communication between communities and faiths, and taking a strong stance against inequality and intolerance.
There was one answer, however, that Francis didn't exactly have. When the students from Istanbul, Turkey, asked the pontiff if the world will be "better or worse" in the future, Francis said: "I don't have a crystal ball that the brujas [witches] would look at."
Despite not having a crystal ball (they unfortunately don't give those out to popes), Francis told the children we can all make the world a better place with love and faith.
You can watch the full video of the Google Hangout chat below (Francis' answers are in Spanish).
Although Francis recently chided young people for "wasting time on the Internet," the Holy See has embraced the varied uses of social media since he assumed the papacy in March 2013. The pope has previously hosted a live Google Hangout to participate in "Prayer and Action Day" in February.
Francis currently runs Twitter accounts in nine different languages, including Spanish, Polish and Arabic, and tweets frequently to his millions of followers. According to a recent study from Twiplomacy, Francis is one of the most influential people on Twitter, with tweets on his Spanish account averaging 10,000 retweets. He is also the second most-followed world leader on Twitter, behind President Barack Obama.
But for Francis, social media and the Internet are not just for fun, entertainment or click bait. The pontiff has called on Catholics over the last year to use the Internet for good rather than self-interest. For some Catholics, this may mean as a way to evangelize and spread the Catholic message. But for Francis, it's also a way to reach out to those who are "hurting or lost."
In his speech for 2014 World Communications Day in January, Francis expanded on his message of unity through the Internet:
In a world like this, media can help us to feel closer to one another, creating a sense of the unity of the human family which can in turn inspire solidarity and serious efforts to ensure a more dignified life for all. ... We need to resolve our differences through forms of dialogue which help us grow in understanding and mutual respect. A culture of encounter demands that we be ready not only to give, but also to receive. Media can help us greatly in this, especially nowadays, when the networks of human communication have made unprecedented advances. The internet, in particular, offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity. This is something truly good, a gift from God.
With his positive outlook on the future of technology, it only makes sense that Francis has launched an online education initiative to foster global connections among school-age children. According to the initiative's website, Scholas will use technology, the arts and sports to improve education, spread "human values," and create a unified society. The program places an emphasis on areas with less resources or access, which is where using platforms such as Google Hangout comes in.
Although the program is still in its consolidation stage, Scholas has already conducted awareness campaigns. Just a few days before the pontiff's Google Hangout, Scholas hosted a charity football match featuring many World Cup players. Considering Francis is a huge Argentina football fan, we can expect many more of these sports-meet-education-meet-peace events in the future.
Screenshots: Pope Francis Google Hangout