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Pope Francis Gives Surprise TED Talk, Asks Tech Companies to do Better and for a ‘Revolution of Tenderness’


TED Talks are known for bringing well-known individuals from around the world to a stage before an audience to share big ideas about science, technology, and culture. But during this year’s annual TED conference in Vancouver, B.C., there was one surprising addition to the line-up who opted to telecommute: Pope Francis.


“Buonasera,” he began, speaking in Italian throughout his 17-minute address from his desk at the Vatican. “Or good morning, I am not sure what time it is there.”


This was the first time that a reigning Pope has recorded such a speech, and the first time Pope Francis has addressed an international conference. The pope warmed the audience with a reminder of the moral responsibilities of individuals around the world, saying that “each and everyone’s existence is deeply tied to that of others: life is not time merely passing by, life is about interactions.”


His message quickly moved to the conference’s core subject matter (technology and innovation), and seemed to be directed at the audience in the room: the founders of some of the world’s biggest tech companies, as well as politicians, artists, entertainers, venture capitalists and leaders of major cultural institutions and foundations. Noting that while there are incredible scientific and technological advances happening across the world, we shouldn’t forget the human connections that we have.


“How wonderful would it be if the growth of scientific and technological innovation would come along with more equality and social inclusion,” Francis said. “How wonderful would it be, while we discover faraway planets, to rediscover the needs of the brothers and sisters orbiting around us. How wonderful would it be if solidarity— this beautiful and, at times, inconvenient world—were not simply reduced to social work and became, instead, the default attitude in political, economic and scientific choices, as well as in the relationships among individuals, peoples and countries.” He continued, warning against companies and organizations that put products ahead of people.


Like all TED talks the pope left the audience with a poignant sentiment. He called for a “revolution of tenderness.”


“Tenderness is not weakness; it is fortitude,” Francis said. “It is the path of solidarity, the path of humility. Please, allow me to say it loud and clear: The more powerful you are, the more actions will have an impact on people, the more responsible you are to act humbly. If you don’t, your power will ruin you, and you will ruin the other.”

You can watch the full talk here.