Pope Francis Receives Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg

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In the latest in a series of meetings with tech industry heavyweights this year, Pope Francis today received in private audience Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook. 

In a statement, Holy See Press Office director Greg Burke said the Pope this morning met Zuckerberg along with his wife, Prescilla Chan.

Together they spoke about how to use communications technology to alleviate poverty, encourage a culture of encounter, and to communicate a message of hope, especially to the most disadvantaged,” the statement read.

Although praised for bringing many people together and reconnecting friends, over the years Facebook has come under criticism for allowing blasphemous anti-Catholic pages, and more recently for censoring some politically conservative posts on the site.

But Zuckerberg himself appears to be a fan of Pope Francis, posting in March this year a message congratulating the Holy Father for opening an Instagram account. Facebook bought the on-line image sharing site in 2012.

“Welcome to Instagram, Pope Francis!,” Zuckerberg wrote. “No matter what faith you practice, we can all be inspired by Pope Francis’s humility and compassion. I’m looking forward to following the Pope — and watching him continue sharing his message of mercy, equality and justice with the world.”

Zuckerberg is just the latest tech industry leader to meet the Pope. In separate meetings in January this year, Francis received Apple’s CEO Tim Cooke and Google’s former CEO, Eric Schmidt, at the Vatican.

A Vatican source told the Register at the time that the visits were not related to any particular collaborative communications projects with the Church but simply that both were attending the World Economic Forum in Davos and so it was convenient for them to call in.

Zuckerberg is in Italy to attend the wedding yesterday of Daniel Ek, founder of Spotify, at Lake Como. 

The prefect of the Secretariat for Communications, Msgr. Dario Edoardo Viganò, has been in talks with Facebook for quite some time.