Why Didn't Pope Benedict Tweet Resignation News?

First Pontiff on Social Media Stays Quiet About Quitting

getty images

By Reuters

Published February 16, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

It could have been the tweet of the century.

But Pope Benedict decided not to announce his resignation on Twitter, which he joined last year in a foray into social media that has reaped uncertain spiritual returns and could be curtailed by his successor.

Obviously keen to avoid any leak of his resignation - which would have been a risk as his tweets are typed up by an aide - the pope announced it in person, in Latin, to a restricted group of cardinals. The video was then given to the world’s media.

News of the first pontiff to resign in seven centuries scorched through Twitter, generating 1.5 million comments in the first 36 hours, according to analytics firm Crimson Hexagon.

But of those, a third were negative, criticising the pope or the Roman Catholic Church, and 38 percent were jokes. Just 7 percent were positive, expressing concern for the pontiff or hope about the future.

“We are receiving tweets that I consider not worthy of a human person,” said Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, head of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, a Vatican office set up in the 1940s to address the flourishing film industry, but which under Benedict branched into Twitter, YouTube and smartphone download “The Pope App”.

An easy target of Internet “trolls”, the pope has come in for plenty of online abuse.

“It’s a problem,” Celli said in an interview in the marble-floored offices near St. Peter’s Basilica that house the communications hub. “When you are offending in a vulgar way, that is not worthy of a human being.”

Nevertheless, the 85-year-old was not “naive” in joining the micro-blogging site synonymous with instant news, irreverence and mob behaviour. “The idea of the Holy Father was simple: I want to be present where people are present,” Celli said.

NO HINT

There was no hint of the resignation in recent tweets, sent from a locked room in the Vatican from a computer kept especially for the purpose and fortified against possible hacks.


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!
  • 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.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • 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.