On Thursday in the Vatican Pope Francis had a rather unusual meeting – a satellite phone call with the six astronauts currently orbiting the Earth aboard the International Space Station.
Pope Francis held the 23 minute long phone call from the comfort of Vatican Library in a video conference room. The six astronauts and pope discussed love, humanity, and man’s place in the universe. He spoke to them in Italian and astronaut Paolo Nespoli of Italy translated for his fellow crewmates aboard the ISS.
Despite the video and phone connection being slow at times, the Supreme Pontiff had the opportunity to speak with all six crew members and assured them he had learned a lot from the experience.
Pope Francis is the third pontiff to reach for the stars, with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI holding a similar video call in May of 2011. However Pope Paul VI was the first when he sent a message to the astronauts of Apollo 11, the first men to step on the surface of the moon.
A partial transcript was released which can be read below:
“I ask Dr. Nespoli, given his experience in Space: What do you think about the role of man in the Universe?”
Paolo Nespoli (Italy)
“You realize that the more you know, the less you know. I would love if people like you, not only engineers or physicists, but theologians, philosophers, poets and writers, could come here to Space. This will surely happen in the future. I would like you to come explore what it means to be a human being in Space.”
“What motivated you to be astronauts?”
Sergey Ryazanskiy (Russia)
“My story started with my grandfather who was the main chief engineer in the first man-built satellite Sputnik. For me it’s a great honor to continue what he was doing.”
Randoplh Bresnik (USA)
“There are no borders, no conflict, it’s just peaceful and when you see the thinness of the atmosphere, it makes you realize how fragile our existence here is. That as we work here at the Space Station and within our international partnership we hope that that example of what we can achieve together is an example for all the world and all Humanity.”
“I really liked that answer, what you both said. To him first: he has returned to his roots to explain this. He remembered his grandfather. And to him, who comes from America: he has managed to understand that the Earth is so fragile. Never forget your roots, this is very good to hear. May the Lord bless you, your work and families. I assure you that I will pray for you, please pray for me.”