The Atlantic

The Vatican Is Wooing Silicon Valley

And the tech sector is flirting back.
Source: Alberto Pizzoli / AFP / Getty

ROME—Barely 100 yards away from a statue of Giordano Bruno, the freethinking friar who was burned at the stake in 1600 after the Catholic Church found him guilty of heresy, some of the world’s brightest young people gathered earlier this month for the opening of an unprecedented event: a hackathon convened by the Vatican.

Pope Francis blessed it. Google and Microsoft backed it. Dubbed VHacks, the three-day event welcomed 120 students of different faiths from 60 universities around the world. For the students, the hackathon was a chance to brainstorm new ways of responding to issues that concern the pope: the treatment of migrants and refugees, social inclusion, and interfaith dialogue. For the Vatican, it was also a way to send a message—to students and Silicon Valley alike—that there’s a place for innovation even in

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