We have no Pope. The Chair of St. Peter is empty. On February 28, Pope Benedict XVI concluded his ministry as our Holy Father. He left his position of power and responsibility with humility and grace. He promised to give the rest of his life to prayer and solitude on behalf of the Church. The Cardinals will elect his successor in the coming weeks.
During Pope Benedict’s papacy, the Vatican’s use of the Internet and social media grew considerably. Through his annual messages for World Communications Day, Pope Benedict often stressed the importance of being present on the “digital continent” to witness faith and share the Good News, to form relationships with seekers and to invite them to deeper communion with Christ and the Church.
On December 12, 2012, Pope Benedict posted his first personal Tweet using the handle @Pontifex. His action was covered with great enthusiasm by all of the media. By the end of February, 2013, he had over 3 million Twitter followers in 7 languages. His simple messages of faith and love reached millions more as they were re-tweeted by many followers. He continued his Twitter messages until the day he retired.
Tweeting seems like such a trivial thing to so many, but Pope Benedict XVI considered it important enough to continue through the last days of his papacy.
Here are his final tweets:
Feb. 10, 2013
We must trust in the mighty power of God’s mercy. We are all sinners, but His grace transforms us and makes us new.
Feb. 13, 2013
During the season of Lent which begins today, we renew our commitment to the path of conversion, making more room for God in our lives.
Feb. 17, 2013
Lent is a favorable time in which to rediscover faith in God as the foundation of our lives and of the Church’s life.
Feb. 24, 2013
In these momentous days, I ask you to pray for me and for the Church, trusting as always in divine Providence.
Feb. 27, 2013
If only everyone could experience the joy of being Christian, being loved by God who gave his Son for us!
And the final tweet on his last day in the papacy was:
Feb. 28, 2013
Thank you for your love and support. May you always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the center of your lives.
Thank you, Holy Father, now Emeritus, for reaching across the Internet to speak directly to the hearts of God’s people.
You can read all of Pope Benedict’s tweets in the Vatican News Twitter archive.
The @Pontifex Twitter account is now suspended. It will be up to the next Pope to decide what do with it.
What would you like to see the next Pope do with social media?