AUSTIN, Texas — For a guy who has said he isn't very tech savvy, Pope Francis has embraced Twitter and Instagram as powerful tools to communicate with the world.
Bishop Paul Tighe is the man helping the 80-year-old pontiff spread his message to the world on Twitter and Instagram in a handful of languages.
"This is real. It's happening now and it is shaping how people think, how they form their ideas, how they get their education," Tighe told NBC News at the SXSW Conference in Austin, Texas.
"If we aren't present in that digital world, we are going to be absent from their experience," he said. "We were told by Christ to go out to the whole world, to bring good news to everybody."
And that includes what he said Pope Benedict called the "digital continent."
Benedict, who has been out of the public eye since stepping down and becoming pope emeritus, was the first pontiff to embrace social media when he joined Twitter in 2012.
Pope Francis has shown a desire to understand technology and the way it connects people around the world. In 2016, he held separate meetings in Vatican City with some of tech's most important leaders, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt and Apple CEO Tim Cook.
And after spending time with Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom in February 2016, the pontiff followed up the next month by joining the app under the username Franciscus.
One year later and he's already posted 330 times, with captions in English, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and French.
"It's not a separate world — it's integrated," Tighe said. We live digitally and we live our everyday lives concretely as well."