When you go to SXSW, you expect to run into someone famous. Whether it's a movie star debuting a brand new film or a musician hitting one of the many stages at the Austin conference, celebrities are typically on the menu. But if you were expecting the festivities to exclusively host movie stars and musical artists, you are sorely mistaken, because the Vatican is making an appearance.
That's right, the Catholic Church will be participating in a panel discussion titled Compassionate Disruption: The Vatican and Innovation. It will feature Bishop Paul Tighe, the adjunct secretary to the Pontifical Council of Culture, along with a myriad of tech influencers and Catholic leaders to discuss faith and innovation in the world today. It will be a historic first for both SXSW and the Catholic Church, as one of the highest profile events in the history of the conference.
“The convergence of faith and technology is an exciting global phenomenon that has the potential to foster understanding and influence across continents and platforms,” said Hugh Forrest, the director of SXSW Interactive. “The Faith & Technology Meetup and Compassionate Disruption panel represent two huge opportunities for anyone committed to creating and driving meaningful innovation.”
While SXSW feels like the last place religion would participate, the Vatican's involvement is a huge step in the right direction for everyone involved. Inclusion, in its many forms, can change the way people think, something the Vatican and the tech community are on a mission to do on a daily basis. And if you don't believe, just ask The Pope.
“Pope Francis has stated that communication, wherever and however it takes place, opens horizons and is a gift of God,” said Helen Osman, panel program director and moderator. “The Vatican’s involvement with SXSW is a demonstration of the Church’s solidarity with those that recognize the great responsibility that comes with this power. We hope our Sunday morning meetup and panel offer festival-goers the chance to participate in a conversation that reaches across continents and all faith and platform communities.”
The event will be held on Sunday, March 12 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Austin Zilker Ballroom 2 during the first week of the 10-day long digital, music and film festival. Bishop Paul Tighe will join Christoph Krachten, founder of VideoDays, and Dr. Michael Hertl of Catholic TV Germany as panelists, all moderated by Osman, the incoming President of SIGNIS North America and former chief communications officer of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.