RELIGION
01/25/2016 06:39 pm ET Updated Jan 15, 2017

Pope Francis Met Apple's Tim Cook At The Vatican Last Week

Cook is the first leader of a Fortune 500 company to come out as gay.

Pope Francis met privately on Friday with Tim Cook, Apple's CEO and a prominent advocate for LGBT rights.

The leader of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church exchanged greetings and gifts with the Silicon Valley tycoon during a 15-minute meeting at the Vatican, Religion News Service reports.

Alessandro Bianchi / Reuters

Francis has admitted in the past that he's a "disaster" when it comes to using technology. Still, his staff helps him maintain an active presence on social media. Francis has 8.49 million followers on Twitter, and has used Google Hangout to chat with children around the world. He recently auctioned off an iPad for $30,500 to benefit a school in Uruguay.

On the same day that he met Cook, Francis published a message ahead of the Church's 50th World Day of Social Communications, a special day on the Catholic calendar that draws attention to the world's “vast and complex" system of modern communications -- a system, of course, that Apple has played an integral role in building.

The pope said in the message that emails, texts, social networks and other modern forms of communication are a "gift from God" -- but that people should be mindful of how they use them.

"It is not technology which determines whether or not communication is authentic," Francis said in the message, "but rather the human heart and our capacity to use wisely the means at our disposal."

In line with the overarching theme of his Holy Year of Mercy, the pope called on Catholics to use these tools to "build bridges between individuals and within families, social groups and peoples."

The meeting between Francis and Cook might be seen as one such bridge. In 2014, Cook became the first leader of a Fortune 500 company to come out as gay. In a column he wrote for Bloomberg at the time, Cook said that while he valued his privacy, he was willing to trade it in to give comfort to LGBT people who might be struggling alone.

"I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me," Cook wrote.

In a 2015 Washington Post op-ed on religious freedom laws, Cook told readers that he was raised in a Baptist church and that faith has always been an important part of his life. 

"I was never taught, nor do I believe, that religion should be used as an excuse to discriminate," he wrote.

Since his election, Pope Francis hasn't changed centuries-old Catholic doctrine that describes same-sex relationships as "intrinsically disordered." And on Friday, he spoke out firmly against an upcoming vote in the Italian senate that would grant legal recognition to gay and lesbian couples.  

Still, some have defended the pope on the issue, saying he's at least shown a willingness to engage in dialogue with LGBT people. He met with a gay couple during his recent visit to the United States, and reportedly met with a transgender man from Spain who felt marginalized by his local faith community.

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