Pope Francis once described the internet as a “gift from God”. But on Friday he is due to meet with someone who may believe the internet has more to do with his own company than divine intervention: Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google. The pope, who more than a billion Catholics believe is God’s representative on Earth, will meet with the powerful Silicon Valley executive and philanthropist for 15 minutes at the Vatican in Rome.

A source close to the Vatican, who was familiar with the details of the meeting but not authorised to speak on the record, confirmed the brief meeting would take place on Friday. Another source familiar with the meeting said Schmidt was due to meet with the pope privately along with Jared Cohen, a former US state department official who is now head of Google Ideas. Schmidt co-wrote a book with Cohen in 2013 called The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business. FULL REPORT