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Pope Francis Gives TED Talk Urging ‘Revolution of Tenderness’

ROME, Italy — He is perhaps the biggest online influencer of them all.

Pope Francis became the latest thought leader to give a "TED talk" late Tuesday, in a pre-recorded but surprise video message calling for a "revolution of tenderness" and for humility among the world's powerful.

During an 18-minute address, the pontiff also touched on other subjects close to his heart: the culture of waste, solidarity with the disadvantaged, and societies that are putting products ahead of people.

Francis spoke to an audience at the latest TED conference in Vancouver, Canada. TED, a non-profit media organization, shares online recordings of so-called TED talks from experts and key thinkers.

Pope Francis urges leaders 'to act humbly' in surprise TED Talk 0:30

Bruno Giussani, TED's International Curator, wrote in a blog that it took over a year to coordinate the first pontifical contribution.

"It took many discussions to make the talk happen — and several trips to Rome over more than a year," Giussani wrote. "When I first approached the Vatican, it's fair to say that not many there knew of TED. So there was a lot of explaining to do."

The talk was recorded at Casa Santa Marta, the Vatican guesthouse where Francis lives. "Of course Pope Francis decided by himself what he wanted to say in the talk," Giussani wrote.

Francis began by recounting his own humble upbringing as an Italian immigrant in Argentina.

Image: It took more than a year to make Pope Francis' TED talk happen.
It took more than a year to make Pope Francis' TED talk happen. NBC News

"There is a saying in Argentina: Power is like 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," Francis said in Italian. "Through humility and concrete love, on the other hand, power — the highest, the strongest one — becomes a service, a force for good."

He also called for a "revolution of tenderness," explaining: "Tenderness means to use our hands and our heart to comfort the other, to take care of those in need."

On the problems of global consumerism, he told the audience: "Only by educating people to a true solidarity will we be able to overcome the culture of waste," adding that the issue was not just about food and goods but also "people who are cast aside by our techno-economic systems which, without even realizing it, are now putting products at their core instead of people."

He concluded his talk: "We all need each other. And so, please, think of me as well with tenderness, so that I can fulfil the task I have been given for the good of others, of each and every one, of all of you, of all of us."