Social Media Meets Pope Francis

by Sr. Susan Wolf, SND on March 19, 2013

in Pope Francis, social media

Pope FrancisFrom the crowds outside the Pope’s balcony who were taking his picture with cell phones and iPads to the millions of people tweeting and posting comments on his election, this papal election was a new media event.

The social media buzz was part of the traditional media’s coverage:

From the Wall Street Journal:

Twitter reported that there were 130,000 tweets per minute related to the new pope following his announcement. On Facebook, the top eight most-mentioned terms world-wide were all related to the pope’s selection.

From National Catholic Register:

According to the social-media analytics firm Topsy, tweets about the Pope reached 15 billion views — more than twice the world’s total population.

The National Catholic Register and other outlets reported how world leaders took to Twitter to offer their congratulations. Among them were: President Obama; Cristina Kirchner, president of Argentina; British Prime Minister David Cameron; and the Dalai Lama (who has 6.5 million Twitter followers.)

As a Cardinal, Pope Francis was still using a typewriter to do his work and although he did have an official Facebook page, he left that to staff.

AP writers from Buenos Aires and Vatican City contributed to this article in The Daily Caller on the new pope’s likely approach to social media:

Francis seems likely to follow the Vatican’s social media strategy to help with missionary outreach. In a 2012 interview with veteran Italian Vatican journalist Andrea Tornielli, then Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio said the church in Argentina knew well that digital outreach was necessary to reach the faithful.

“We try to make contact with families that don’t come to church. Rather than being a church that welcomes and receives, we try to be a church that goes outside to men and women who don’t come to us, who don’t know us or are indifferent to us,” he said.

We will have to see what Pope Francis will do with social media, but we already know that the public will be commenting and posting on his every move.

The Vatican did reopen the @Pontifex Twitter account when Pope Francis was elected. On Sunday, this tweet from Pope Francis was posted:

Pope's Tweet

You have our prayers and best wishes, Pope Francis, as today on the Feast of St. Joseph, we celebrate your inauguration as our 266th pope.


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Meredith Gould, PhD March 19, 2013 at 5:40 am

And this morning I’m exchanging tweets with friends across the United States and across the world as we watch this inaugural Mass together…thanks to technology and thanks be to God!

S. Angela Ann March 19, 2013 at 6:45 am

Yes, it is amazing what the new social media offers the church for cultivating a profound presence. It is now the Church’s challenge to offer depth and perspective within and through the new media for cultivating a deeper relationship with Jesus, as the Holy Father calls each one of us today.

Sr. Susan Wolf, SND March 19, 2013 at 8:15 am

A few more tweets from Pope Francis @Pontifex (from today’s inaugural homily):

“Let us keep a place for Christ in our lives, let us care for one another and let us be loving custodians of creation.”

“True power is service. The Pope must serve all people, especially the poor, the weak, the vulnerable. “

Lisa Hendey March 19, 2013 at 1:15 pm

Like Meredith, I felt a oneness with my “soul sisters” around the world as I watched today’s Mass with Meredith on the East coast and Elizabeth in Rome via Twitter. What a blessing our spiritual connections in social media are to us!

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