Rome, Italy, May 17, 2013 / 10:30 am
With the touch of an iPad, Pope Francis became the first pontiff to unlock a new smartphone application and expanded the Church's footprint in the digital world.
"I was quite anxious that we were going to get the signal and it was all going to work. Because this isn't made up, these folks are actually waiting for the Holy Father to hit this button before it works," said Father Andrew Small in a May 17 CNA interview.
The launch of the MISSIO App took place May 17 in the Vatican's Clementine Hall during a meeting of the Pope and the 120 national directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies.
The mission society's application for mobile devices and smartphones collects news from Rome, stories and photos from the missions and other material and makes it available to the world.
The actual unlocking of the app was simple.
Fr. Small, the U.S. national director, presented his iPad to the Pope, who asked, "I push here?"
"As soon as the Holy Father hit the button, a little notice came across the top – what they call a 'push notice' – and it said, 'Pope Francis has unlocked the MISSIO App.'
"And he sort of looked a little bit surprised," Fr. Small recalled.
The button was labeled "Evangelizantur," which means, "that they be evangelized" in Latin.
Since the app is available in English, Spanish, Italian, German, French,
Portuguese, Chinese and Arabic, Fr. Small explained that the developers settled on the Latin phrase for the launch.
The purpose of the application is to help the Pope and the Church extend the reach of its message, with a particular emphasis on young people.
"Ever since his election, Pope Francis has reached far beyond the Vatican, touching people's lives in simple and meaningful ways," Fr. Small observed.
By making the app available the Pope is putting "the missionary Gospel in the pockets of millions of people, young and old, rich and poor, believer and searcher," he added.
The MISSIO App was developed by the company Little iApps and is available for free in the iTunes App Store and on Google Play.