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Last Sunday, one day before the announcement, he tweeted: “We must trust in the mighty power of God’s mercy. We are all sinners, but His grace transforms us and makes us new.”
The only tweet from @Pontifex since then was on Ash Wednesday, the start of lent this week, when he reminded his more than 1.5 million online followers the Christian fasting period had begun.
The Vatican’s communications apparatus, put in place mostly by Benedict’s predecessor, is readying for its busiest weeks since John Paul II’s death and Benedict’s election in April, 2005.
The day Benedict announced his resignation, hits on the Vatican’s news website jumped from 14,000 to 190,000 in a day, forcing technicians to switch from one to four servers to prevent a crash.
Benedict is likely to send his last tweet on February 28, his final day as pontiff before he departs the Vatican in a helicopter.
After that - during the “Sede Vacante” or “Empty See” when there is no pope - the @Pontifex Twitter account will be silent.
Anyone with “The Pope App” on their smart phone will be able to watch for the white smoke that heralds a new pontiff on a live stream trained on the chimney of the Sistine Chapel.
Benedict’s push into online media was part of a battle that was central to his papacy: to win back believers in the rapidly secularising developed world. But patchy success means the next pontiff may choose not to Tweet.
“It will depend on him for sure. When the new pope will be elected we are going to present to him such an opportunity,” said Celli.
“We need to touch the imagination of people. We need to touch their heart. Because we have a lot of new technology, but do you realise how really difficult it is to communicate with people?”