Hold the phone: Vatican says Pope Francis doesn't use WhatsApp

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — While the thought of receiving a
blessing by text from Pope Francis could have millions of mobile users glued to their smartphones,
the Vatican spokesman said that isn’t his style.

The spokesman, Greg Burke, issued a statement on Twitter
Dec. 13 saying that Pope Francis doesn’t use the instant messaging platform

Reports of “the Holy Father using WhatsApp are false,”
Burke tweeted. “He does not send messages or blessings through this

The Pope Francis Foundation, a Catholic organization in
Corrientes, Argentina, announced Dec. 12 the launch of “Wabot-Papa Francisco,”
a chatbot that allows users to contact the pope and keep up-to-date with his
schedule, reported the Argentine newspaper, La Nacion.

The foundation said the chatbot would respond to users
queries through “texts, images, video, audio and documents,” La Nacion

“You can also have a simulated chat with His Holiness.
Wabot technology allows the entire Catholic community or people of any other
faith to interact with the pope,” the foundation said.

The pope, the organization added, “is a technological
man, he believes that technology can help many people and understands that it is
the future of communications.”

In his message for the 50th World Communications Day Jan.
24, 2016, Pope Francis acknowledged that emails, text messages, social networks
and chats can be “fully human forms of communication.”

However, he added, “it is not technology which
determines whether or not communication is authentic, but rather the human
heart and our capacity to use wisely the means at our disposal.”

Despite his favorable attitude toward new forms of
communication, the pope has also admitted that he is “a dinosaur”
when it comes to technology.

During a Google Hangout conversation sponsored by Scholas
Occurrentes in 2015, a young girl from Spain asked the pope if he liked to take
photos and upload them to a computer.

“Do you want me to tell you the truth?” the pope
asked. “I’m a disaster with machines. I don’t know how to work a computer.
What a shame!”

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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