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Mark Zuckerberg visits Pope Francis at home

Pope Francis, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan
Pope Francis meets with Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan in his residence at the Vatican. The man at right is not identified.
(Pool)

Pope Francis met with Facebook Inc. founder and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and Zuckerberg's wife, Priscilla Chan, at the Vatican on Monday.

One topic of discussion at the meeting was “how to use communication technologies to alleviate poverty, encourage a culture of encounter, and make a message of hope arrive, especially to those most in need,” Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said.

The atmosphere appeared informal, with the chat taking place in the Santa Marta residence, the guest house in Vatican City where the pope lives. 

“We gave him a model of Aquila, our solar-powered aircraft that will beam Internet connectivity to places that don't have it,” Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post. “And we shared our work with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to help people around the world.”

The couple launched the initiative in December, saying at the time that the organization would fund nonprofit organizations, make private investments and participate in policy debates, initially focusing on personalized learning, curing disease, connecting people and building communities. 

Zuckerberg’s efforts to provide free Internet access have met with some resistance, however. In February, regulators in India rejected his pet project, a no-cost mobile app for emerging economies called Free Basics — a sort of Internet for beginners — saying that it discriminated against other Internet sites.

Also on Monday, Zuckerberg and Chan met with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Zuckerberg then held an hourlong Q&A session in Rome, which was streamed online via Facebook Live.

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