By Emanuela Campanile
What exactly is the Vatican Hackathon?
The Vatican Hackathon is an initiative that continues, or applies, something that is done in many universities in the world today: Hackathons are competitions, for example, in mathematics, or physics... They are events that bring together young people from different universities where they face challenges and have to propose solutions. The Vatican Hackathon takes this cultural event, the Hackathon, and transports it to the context of the Vatican with its own challenges, and all that is important to the Holy Father. We invited young people to see what technological response they could provide in order to take a step closer towards solving these problems.
What are the goals of the Hackathon?
To align ourselves with what the Holy Father considers important, we chose the problem of cultural dialogue – something that is characteristic of the environment in which Hackathons take place - and the issue which is closest to his heart, that of migrants and refugees.
Is Pope Francis aware of this event?
Absolutely. The Pope has been aware from the start. When the idea came up, we presented it to the him immediately. He was very happy because he sees how this allows culture, science, technology, faith, and young people, to come together, in order to think and to challenge one other, to solve concrete problems of contemporary culture, like dialogue, migrants and refugees... This is something to be happy about. We hope everything goes well and that somehow we can contribute with technology to solving these great challenges of the contemporary world.
The Hackathon reflects the attitudes and traditions of the Church
It does, insofar as the Hackathon creates dialogue, it "tests" different intelligences, to propose solutions to a challenge that is presented to different students from various universities. However, it also inserts itself on that path of dialogue between science and faith, technology and faith, that has always been present in the Church. Of course, there have been more difficult and more peaceful moments, but that is normal because in all relationships there are moments that are better or worse. Just think about the relationship between a couple, a marriage: there are times when we are closer, and others when we are further away. The relationship between science and faith is one that we have always been tried to maintain. So, as far as we are concerned, the event is new because it is "culturally new", but the reality of dialogue has always been present in the Church and is not new.