Pope Francis has praised online vloggers and professed an admiration for fashion and beauty videos during a meeting with a group YouTubers.
Twelve YouTubers from six continents joined the Pope on Sunday to discuss how bloggers could help young people craft virtual identities and support those of their followers who felt alienated.
“You can create a virtual identity; you belong to this circle at least virtually. From that you can start taking a path of optimism and hope,” said Pope Francis, the Guardian reports.
The 50-minute meeting included guests such as Hayla Ghazal, a Dubai-based Syrian teenager whose YouTube channel aims to empower Middle Eastern women and introverted teenagers, and Dulce Candy, a Mexican-American who travelled to the US illegally as a child in 1994.
Key topics at the meeting, which saw the Pope laughing along with the vloggers, included identity, migration and extremism.
The Pope reportedly criticised European politicians over their immigration policies and said extremist groups should not be cast as belonging to one particular faith.
“In all religions there is also a group of fundamentalists that believe they are the holders of the truth,” said Pope Francis.
The Pope also commended British fashion and beauty vlogger Louise Pentland, who runs the You Tube channel Sparkle and Glitter, saying: “I am glad that you carry out the type of work you said, following the line of beauty, it’s a great thing. To preach beauty and show beauty helps neutralise aggression.”
After the meeting, Pope Francis addressed an event held at the Vatican to promote the work of a foundation inspired by the pontiff – Scholas Occurrentes.
Guests included actors Richard Gere, George Clooney and Salma Hayek, who were awarded medals by the Pope at the event honouring the foundation, which links technology with the arts, aiming at social integration and a cultural of peace.
The Pope’s meeting with the YouTubers is one of a number of recent efforts by the Vatican to engage with young people online.
The papal Instagram account, launched in March and posting pictures and videos of the Pope, has amassed 2.5 million followers and the Pope has previously met with Instagram’s’s chief executive Kevin Systrom and Chief executive of Google, Eric Schmidt.
Additional reporting by Reuters