Pope Francis’ Surprise TED Talk Emphasizes Solidarity, Tenderness — and Christ

TED-Vancouver-Pope-Francis-VaticanOn Tuesday, April 25, Pope Francis managed to surprise the world and do something entirely new, by delivering a prerecorded TED talk in Vancouver, Canada.

The event was the TED2017 conference, whose 1,800 attendees include many top tech CEOs. Here’s how TED describes itself:

TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world.

Most TED talkers stalk a stage, wearing a headset mike, with a huge colorful presentation behind them. In contrast, the pontiff sat at a desk, his speech on paper in front of him (although he didn’t look at it), evidently using a teleprompter but managing to speak directly and emotively to the camera — and the audience beyond.

The theme of the conference is “The Future You,” and that’s something the pope addressed directly, saying:

I very much like its title – “The Future You” – because, while looking at tomorrow, it invites us to open a dialogue today, to look at the future through a “you.” “The Future You:” the future is made of yous, it is made of encounters, because life flows through our relations with others. Quite a few years of life have strengthened my conviction that each and everyone’s existence is deeply tied to that of others: life is not time merely passing by, life is about interactions.

The 18-minute talk, called “Why the only future worth building includes everyone,” was the result of more than a year of negotiations between TED and the Vatican.

According to a post at TED’s blog, a camera crew from the Vatican Television Center filmed Pope Francis in a small, book-lined room at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the guest house that has been the pope’s home in Vatican City. Once the recording was done, TED video editors prepared the final version.

The pope spoke in Italian, but 40 TED translators provided subtitles in 20 languages (including English), with more to come. You can also click here for a full English transcript of the talk.

Even with all these people working on it, TED and the Vatican managed to keep it secret until it was unveiled at TED2017.

Essentially, it was not so much a normal TED talk as a homily, focusing on themes of compassion, solidarity, mutual aid and love — with mentions of Jesus, Mother Teresa, the Good Samaritan and Catholic teaching about the irreplaceable value of each human to God.

Here are some highlights:

First and foremost, I would love it if this meeting could help to remind us that we all need each other, none of us is an island, an autonomous and independent “I,” separated from the other, and we can only build the future by standing together, including everyone. We don’t think about it often, but everything is connected, and we need to restore our connections to a healthy state.

How wonderful would it be if the growth of scientific and technological innovation would come along with more equality and social inclusion. How wonderful would it be, while we discover faraway planets, to rediscover the needs of the brothers and sisters orbiting around us.

To Christians, the future does have a name, and its name is Hope.

Take a look:

Image: Courtesy TED

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