Pope Francis joins Instagram to spread church's message to millennials

Pope Francis is set to join Instagram in a bid to widen his social footprint and help spread the Catholic message to a tech-savvy generation.

The pontiff will join the likes of Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber on the platform under the handle @Franciscus on Saturday (16 March) to celebrate the third anniversary of his inauguration as leader of the Catholic church.

Dario Viganò, the Vatican's prefect of communications, confirmed the move during an appearance on Vatican Radio on Tuesday (16 March).

The move is part of wider social media strategy dreamt up by the church to ensure the pope's teachings reach a large number of believers and non-believers globally.

In the December following his inauguration, Francis drafted in US communications constultancy McKinsey and Co to help him manage the church's image and modernise its communications operations for a younger generation.

A couple of weeks ago, the leader met with Instagram chief executive Kevin Systrom to discuss the power of pictures and how they can be used to "unite people across borders, cultures and generations."

Francis is currently a big influencer on social: he joined Twitter in 2013 and has more than 21 million followers across his English and Spanish Twitter accounts.

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