A few weeks ago the Vatican announced that Pope Benedict XVI now has his own Twitter profile and will be tweeting his own messages beginning at his weekly General Audience on Wednesday, December 12. His Twitter handle is @Pontifex. Before December 12th people can tweet questions to the Pope on issues of faith using #askpontifex. He will answer a few of these in his first tweets during his general audience that day.
The Pope will tweet his first message on December 12 and then others will do his postings—but he will sign off on what appears on his official Twitter account. And before he has even posted his first tweet, he already has over half a million followers to his English account (600 thousand plus at this writing). His messages will also appear on German, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Italian, French and Arabic accounts. His following on those accounts is also growing.
Technically, this will not be his first tweet. Last year Pope Benedict sent a tweet from the Vatican’s official account, coinciding with a new Vatican information site. Now he has his own account.
Pope Benedict has referred to the digital continent in his writings and speeches and whenever he speaks of the Internet, he speaks of the importance of being present there with the truth and riches of our faith. This effort on his part to once again call attention to the world of social networking as a vehicle for the proclamation of the faith is an important one for all who are committed to evangelization and catechesis.
As a public world leader, it is important for the Pope to have a presence in social media. Mgr Paul Tighe secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications said:
I think symbolically this is very important, this is the head of the Church going into a new digital arena to share his words and ideas….it’s an encouragement to those already present using Twitter and other forms of social media to reach an even wider group of people…. When the Holy Father is working on sermons or talks he’ll give explicit attention to how to formulate a shorter message that will be tweeted in his name, maybe with the longer Url attached….it’s really an entry level of engagement….. (from ABCNews)
What are your thougts on all of this? Are you using Twitter now? Will you be following the Holy Father?
If you are not yet on Twitter and want to get started, you may wish to read my previous post Get Started on Twitter.
Image: Free Digital Photos