Pope Francis is set to meet Eric Schmidt, the billionaire philanthropist and executive chairman of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, at the Vatican in Rome.
The reportedly “rare” meeting, first mentioned by Vatican expert Iacopo Scaramuzzi, will last 15 minutes and is due to take place on January 15. Other sources close to the Vatican have added that the private gathering will also include Jared Cohen, head of Google Ideas, reports the Guardian. Google for its part has not commented on the matter.
Followers of Pope Francis are already aware that the current pontiff believes in the unifying power of technology, labeling it a “gift from God.” Yet, the proposed encounter with Schmidt is still a unique one. Pope Francis has rarely met with American business personalities, which some claim is a reflection of his critical views on wealth inequality.
Schmidt, who previously served as Google CEO, is worth an estimated $10.6 billion. As the executive chairman of Alphabet — Google’s recently formed parent company that oversees its disparate services such as Android, YouTube, and its search business — Schmidt is viewed as the “global ambassador” of a $500 billion empire.
However, Schmidt and Pope Francis do share some common interests, specifically environmentalism and sustainability. Perhaps that will be on the agenda at the meeting, along with ways that the Catholic Church can revolutionize its approach to tech. The Pope already has a Twitter account and has held Google Hangouts in the past; maybe he’ll ask Schmidt for advice on launching an Android app or YouTube channel.