"The more powerful you are, the more your actions will have an impact on people, the more responsible you are to act humbly. If you don't, your power will ruin you, and you will ruin the other," Pope Francis told world leaders as he made a surprise appearance at the TED talk conference on Tuesday, 25 April.

Not many expected the Vatican pontiff to show up at the TED 2017 conference in Vancouver — an organisation with a heavy focus on science and technology — when it was promised that a surprise "world figure" would address the gathering. The week-long conference is themed "The Future You".

Speaking at the summit that had scientists, academics and innovators, Francis, one of the world's most powerful religious leaders, urged the world to embrace what he called the "revolution of tenderness" in the first-ever papal TED talk.

Seated at a desk at the Vatican, Francis spoke for 18 minutes in Italian as English subtitles assisted the audience. The 80-year-old Catholic leader, who has been vociferously voicing his opinion on various politico-religious matters, spoke again of immigration and the plight of poor people across the world.

"How wonderful would it be if the growth of scientific and technological innovation would come along with more equality and social inclusion. How wonderful would it be, while we discover faraway planets, to rediscover the needs of the brothers and sisters orbiting around us," he told a crowd visibly excited over his appearance.

Keeping in line with the growing popularity of the TED talks, Francis's address bore all the hallmarks of a conventional TED speech beginning with a personal narrative and then moving on to wider ideas from them.

As Francis wrapped his unusual address, he told the conference attendees that "the future of humankind isn't exclusively in the hands of politicians, of great leaders, of big companies. Yes, they do hold an enormous responsibility. But the future is, most of all, in the hands of those people who recognise the other as a 'you' and themselves as part of an 'us.'"

Pope Francis TED talk
The Catholic pontiff called for 'revolution of tenderness' in the first-ever papal TED talk Max Rossi/Reuters