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Pope warns powerful to act humbly or risk ruin in TED talk

  • Pope Francis salutes at the end of his weekly general audience in St. Peter square at the Vatican today.

VATICAN CITY >> Pope Francis is warning the powerful to act humbly or risk ruin, using the first-ever papal TED talk to urge the world to show more solidarity with the poor and the weak.

Francis delivered a videotaped talk to a TED conference in Vancouver on “The Future You.” TED, short for Technology, Entertainment and Design, organizes conferences around the world aiming to spread ideas through short talks.

The Vatican released the video today. In it, Francis outlined his vision of the interconnectedness of humanity, saying that with age he has grown increasingly convinced that “none of us is an island.”

“Please allow me to say it loud and clear: The more powerful you are, the more your actions will have an impact on people, the more you are called to be humble,” he said. “If you don’t, your power will ruin you, and you will ruin others.”

He cited a saying from his native Argentina about the effects of 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.”

Francis pleaded for greater solidarity in political, economic and scientific endeavors.

“How wonderful would it be, while we discover faraway planets, to rediscover the needs of the brothers and sisters orbiting around us,” he said. “How wonderful would it be if solidarity — this beautiful and sometimes inconvenient word — were not simply reduced to social work and became instead the default attitude in political, economic and scientific choices.”

Francis’ participation in the TED conference marked a new era for the Vatican’s communications operation, which has increasingly sought to get the pope’s message out via social media and nontraditional news sources.

The reaction in Rome was positive.

“These days, communications and the Ted Talks are very powerful,” Bob Livingstone, a tourist from Brisbane, Australia said after Francis’ Wednesday general audience in St. Peter’s Square. “Every politician does (it) and he is a politician for the church.”

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