It's #Catholic as Pope Benedict Joins Twitter

With 1.2B Followers, @pontifex Hits Tweet Button

By Reuters

Published December 03, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share

It’s official. Pope Benedict’s handle on Twitter will be @pontifex.

He already has 1.2 billion “followers” in the standard sense of the word but next week he will have another type when he enters what for any 85-year old is the brave new world of Twitter.

The Vatican said on Monday that the pope will start tweeting on December 12, the feast of the Madonna of Guadalupe.

“The handle is a good one. It means ‘pope’ and it also means ‘bridge builder’,” said Greg Burke, senior media advisor to the Vatican.

“The pope wants to reach out to everyone,” he told a news conference.

The first papal tweets will be answers to questions sent to #askpontifex.

The tweets will be going out in Spanish, English, Italian, Portuguese, German, Polish, Arabic and French. Other languages will be added in the future.

“We are going to get a spiritual message. The pope is not going to be walking around with a Blackberry or an iPad and no one is going to be putting words into the pope’s mouth. He will tweet what he wants to tweet,” Burke said.

Primarily the tweets will come from the contents of his weekly general audience, Sunday blessings and homilies on major Church holidays. They will also include reaction to major world events, such as natural disasters.

Benedict will be sending his first tweet himself on Dec. 12 but in the future most will be written by aides and he will sign off on them before they are sent in his name.

But while the pope will be one of the world’s most high-profile tweeters and have many followers, he will not be following anyone himself.

The pope’s Twitter page is designed in yellow and white - the colours of the Vatican, with a backdrop of the Vatican and his picture. It may change during different liturgical seasons of the year and when the pope is away from the Vatican on trips.

FEAR OF HACKING

The Vatican said precautions had been taken to make sure the pope’s certified account is not hacked. Only one computer in the Vatican’s secretariat of state will be used for the tweets.

“The Pope’s presence on Twitter is a concrete expression of his conviction that the Church must be present in the digital arena,” the Vatican said.

“This initiative is best understood in the context of his reflections on the importance of the cultural space that has been brought into being by the new technologies … the pope’s presence on Twitter can be seen as the ‘tip of the iceberg’ that is the Church’s presence in the world of new media,” it said in a statement.

The pope, who still writes his speeches and books by hand, has given a qualified blessing to social networking.

In a document issued last year, he said the possibilities of new media and social networks offered “a great opportunity”, but warned of the risks of depersonalisation, alienation, self-indulgence, and the dangers of having more virtual friends than real ones.

In 2009, a new Vatican website, www.pope2you.net, went live, offering an application called “The pope meets you on Facebook”, and another allowing the faithful to see the pontiff’s speeches and messages on their iPhones or iPods.

The Vatican famously got egg on its face in 2009 when it was forced to admit that, if it had surfed the web more, it might have known that a traditionalist bishop whose excommunication was lifted had for years been a Holocaust denier.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • British Jews are having their 'Open Hillel' moment. Do you think Israel advocacy on campus runs the risk of excluding some Jewish students?
  • "What I didn’t realize before my trip was that I would leave Uganda with a powerful mandate on my shoulders — almost as if I had personally left Egypt."
  • Is it better to have a young, fresh rabbi, or a rabbi who stays with the same congregation for a long time? What do you think?
  • Why does the leader of Israel's social protest movement now work in a beauty parlor instead of the Knesset?
  • What's it like to be Chagall's granddaughter?
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.