Hackers Head To Vatican For 36-Hour Hacking Marathon

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Joshua Gill Religion Reporter
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The Vatican is hosting computer hackers for a humanitarian benefit, “Vatican Hackathon,” to develop digital issues to the challenges of migrants and the poor.

The “Hackathon,” which started Thursday in the Vatican, is a computer-programming marathon of sorts and involves MIT and Harvard student volunteers in concert with certain Vatican offices, according to the Associated Press. The marathon, also called VHacks, will run 36 hours and host 120 students who will try to develop computer-based solutions to issues in three areas Pope Francis has called attention to: providing resources for immigrants, online interfaith dialogue, and social inclusion in the digital community.

The marathon will not involve breaching any firewalls, digital piracy or digital sabotage, despite being called a “Hackathon.”


“We’re hacking problems, not security,” Harvard MBA student and student organizer Jakub Florkiewicz told AP.

Florkiewicz helped develop the idea for the 2017 Vatican Hackathon where he met with Rev. Eric Salobir and Mgr. Lucio Ruiz. Salobir started Optic, the Vatican’s first technology think tank, and Ruiz served with the Vatican’s secretariat for communication. Salobir organized hackathons in the past — Paris and Los Angeles — and wanted to help organize a hackathon at the heart of the Catholic Church’s authority.

“In the past couple of years, the Vatican has been in a period of transformation initiated by Pope Francis, including in terms of using digital technologies and digital media,” Salobir told Wired. “This is the first [hackathon] at the Vatican, so it is very symbolic.”

Pope Francis fully endorsed the Vatican Hackathon — true to Salobir’s perception.

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