Pope Francis surprised the world again this week – this time with a TED talk to an audience in Vancouver, Canada and, by extension, the rest of the globe.
Speaking from the Vatican via a videolink he used the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) platform – which has attracted 4.6 billion viewers since its launch n 2006 – to call on world leaders and captains of industry to act humbly and remember the most vulnerable in society.
In his talk, The Future Of You, Pope Francis, 80, stresses “we can only build a future by standing together, including everyone”.
That “everyone”, he says, should include the “discarded” such as the poor, the sick and migrants.
The son of immigrants to Argentina he says: “I could have very well ended up among today’s ‘discarded’ people.”
He told the 1,800-strong audience, which included CEOs of the world’s leading technology companies: “I would love it if this meeting could help to remind us that we all need each other and we can only build the future by standing together, including everyone.”
The 18-minute video is in Italian with English subtitles.
In it Francis rails against today’s “culture of waste” which these days extended beyond food and goods but to people themselves.
“Our techno-economic systems are now putting products at their core, instead of people…people who call themselves ‘respectable'” often leave “entire populations, on the side of the road,” he says.
He calls for a “revolution in tenderness” and said world leaders should act “humbly”.
“The more powerful you are, the more your 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.
“Power is like drinking gin on an empty stomach. You feel dizzy, you get drunk, you lose your balance, and you will end up hurting yourself and those around you if you don’t connect your power with humility and tenderness,” he says, quoting a proverb from his home.
But humanity does not have to be fatalistic about the power of large corporations and political cliques, the Pope urges.
“(Our future) isn’t exclusively in the hands of politicians, of great leaders, of big companies. The future most of all is in the hands of those people who recognise the other as ‘you’ and themselves as part of an ‘us’. We all need each other.
“I know that TED gathers many creative minds. How wonderful would it be, while we discover faraway planets, to rediscover the needs of the brothers and sisters orbiting around us,” says the former Jesuit Cardinal whose preference for foregoing material possessions means he does not even have a TV set. (He watches football games with the Swiss Guards on their set).
Other speakers due to speak at TED’s annual conference this week are tennis superstar Serena Williams and entrepreneur Elon Musk.