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Pope opens a personal Twitter account
December 2nd, 2012
02:11 PM ET

Pope opens a personal Twitter account

By Eric Marrapodi and Ben Wedeman, CNN

(CNN) - The Vatican revealed the new personal Twitter account for Pope Benedict XVI, @Pontifex, on Monday, meaning the leader of the global Catholic Church will officially join millions of people around the globe on the social media site.

The pope will answer a question about faith in his first tweet, slated for Wednesday, December 12, Vatican officials said. They said that anyone could send in a question via the hashtag #askpontifex or #B16. The Vatican said the initial tweets from the pope will come on Wednesdays in conjunction with his general audiences in Rome, but that the 140-character missals may become more frequent.

The formal announcement came in a press conference Monday morning at the Vatican with Catholic and Twitter officials.

"The Pope's presence on Twitter is a concrete expression of his conviction that the Church must be present in the digital arena,” the church said in a written statement to reporters. The pope’s account on Twitter, the statement said, “can be seen as the 'tip of the iceberg' that is the Church's presence in the world of new media.”

A Vatican official told CNN the pope will be composing the tweets for the new account himself. For the first tweet from the account, the pope will also press the button to send the tweet himself, but after that others will send the tweets on his behalf.

In June 2011 the pope sent his first tweet from the Twitter account for the Vatican news site, @news_va_en, to launch the new site http://www.news.va. He wrote, “Dear friends, I just launched News.va. Praised be our Lord Jesus Christ! With my prayers and blessings, Benedictus XVI.”

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That signature had led some to guess that @BenedictusPPXVI would be the account name for the 85-year-old pope's personal account, although @Pope would have been fitting as well. (Benedictus PP XVI is the pontiff's signature in Latin, with the "PP" standing for papa, the Latin word for pope.)

With @Pontifex, which means "bridge builder" in Latin, the pope chose a handle with another name for the office he holds.

The details on the long-expected event were revealed at the press conference featuring Vatican officials, including spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi and Greg Burke, media adviser to the Secretariat of State, who were joined by Claire Díaz-Ortiz, who heads social innovation at Twitter. Burke is a relatively new addition to the Vatican staff, having been recruited away from the Fox News Channel, where he was Rome correspondent. Díaz-Ortiz has been influential in getting religious leaders to join the social networking site.

Other religious leaders have found great success with Twitter. The 140-character limit for tweets allows for short messages, perfect for small verses of scripture or inspiration.

The Dalai Lama (@DalaiLama), Rick Warren (@RickWarren), Joel Osteen (@JoelOsteen), and scores of other religious leaders utilize the site to spread their messages.

A Twitter spokeswoman said that religious leaders “punch above their weight” on the social networking site.

“An average religious leader has a rate of about 1 RT for every 500 followers, while a musician on Twitter would get one RT for every 30,000 followers,” said spokeswoman Rachael Horwitz, referring to retweets.

“We see a very high level of engagement with religious and spiritual content: followers respond to these topics with replies, retweets, and clicks on links much more often than they do other subjects,” she added.

While Benedict is the first Catholic pope to take to Twitter, he isn’t the first twitterized pope. That honor goes to His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, the 118th pope of the Coptic Church of Egypt. But Pope Tawadros has around 6,300 Twitter followers; Benedict has tens of thousands on his first day out.

John Paul II, who preceded Benedict, was the first pontiff to use the Internet, and the 20th century saw a string of other milestones for popes using technology to reach the masses. Pope Pius XI made the first papal radio broadcast in 1931. His successor, Pope Piux XII made the first papal television appearance in 1946.

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Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, said, "The initiative comes from the Pope's desire to utilize all opportunities for communication which technology offers and are characteristic in the world today," according to the semi-official newspaper of the Vatican, L'Osservatore Romano.

The paper reported that Celli went on to say the pope has stressed how God communicated with mankind through Jesus, who was a "communicator who addressed the people of his time, using their own language."

One outstanding question remains: What language will the pope use to tweet? When the Vatican sends out important documents, it often uses multiple languages to communicate with the billion-plus members of the Catholic Church. In addition to the English version, the Vatican news twitter feed also has Spanish, French and Italian versions. The appearance of eight pontifical accounts seems to suggest he will be tweeting in all eight languages.

The pope’s foray onto Twitter provoked us to ask “What would Jesus have tweeted?” by tweet. A few responses:

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Pope Benedict XVI

soundoff (665 Responses)
  1. Welcome to My Nightmare

    A 31-year-old Kapolei man was sentenced to life in prison this morning for repeatedly sexually assaulting his infant child and videotaping the crimes.

    December 2, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • TRUTH BE TOLD

      Praise God, justice has been served, so why do you remain bitter?

      December 2, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • uoıƃılǝɹ ɟo plɹoʍ uʍop ǝpısdn ǝɥʇ

      It that infant's fault. He had free will.

      December 3, 2012 at 12:04 am |
  2. IslandAtheist

    How many clown costumes does that guy own?

    December 2, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • TRUTH BE TOLD

      Better yet, why would anyone follow this clown?

      December 2, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  3. snarkysnark

    How fast do you think this guy types?

    December 2, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  4. Lovetwo

    Dear Pope the Papal PaPa, Benedicto XVI, born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger: You are one very complex guy. An anti Eve cross-dresser, leader of fake fathers, Dagon (fish fertility worshiper) Jew, who used to be in Hitlers Youth, who didn't know Mary had no cow in her barn, pedophile concealer, calling yourself... PP? Wow! Anything else you would like to confess? Go ahead say it! Tell the Truth. Omega, Our Saviour, the Second Coming, The Bride of Christ is a woman! That is correct. Glory be to God in the Highest. Amen.

    December 2, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
  5. LB

    Another way of spreading RC propaganda, and raising money to defend abusive priests.

    December 2, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  6. solidarity

    the story failed to mention that the holy Pope will not be able to tweet to anyone below the age of 18!

    December 2, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  7. NateFromIndiana

    At the risk of offending people who think highly of twitter, I think the Pope ought to look into online venues that aren't restricted to comments of 140 characters, because the sort of moral discussions that are important to the church deserve full explanations and not just sound bytes. Twitter is designed for shallow topics.

    December 2, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      It's perfect. There is nothing more shallow than religion. Nothing.

      December 2, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • LB

      The messages of the RC church have always been shallow. Literacy is on the rise along with technology. People cannot be fooled by RC myths or remain silent about abuses and other crimes committed out of fear. So...Tweeting won't save them, and the world knows their lengthy defenses already published extensively on line are pure BS.

      December 2, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  8. kpx

    How cool is that?! Love it! Vivat Jesus.

    December 2, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • Lovetwo

      Thanks kpx! Although you won't find me tweeting. I'm too busy trying to save you. Much love. Glory be to God!

      December 2, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  9. kevobx

    Who is calling the most High a liar? Those who have ignored the scriptures *Malachi 2:11-12*

    December 2, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • End Religion

      me

      December 2, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • Lovetwo

      Ratzinger calls himself "Your Holiness". A name the RC gave themselves. He is not the most high. Where in the Bible does it say that the Pope is holy, or where does it even mention the pope at all in the Bible? The Bible makes no mention of the Pope or of the RCC. He is a liar and he has lied to you. And you believe him and are now spreading the lie to us. He is a celibate (or so he says) and an un-natural fake father. Is your father celibate? of course not because that is an impossibility. Think about it. God is the Holy Father and the most high. Is it sensible to you that a celibate (or so he claims) guy can be a father? He is not the saviour. Malachi 2:11-12 is not a reference to Ratzinger aka PP.

      December 2, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Lovetwo

      One day kevobx history will write a book about the pope and the RCC and it will be called The Book of Pedophiles and Killers of the Soul. In it; it will describe all of the pain, hurt and suffering that this church has perpetrated onto and into the world though it's two thousand year existence. The slaughter of the innocence. The cycle of abuse continues today in epic proportion. Satan himself must be proud of their sinfilled ministry.

      December 2, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • Ezo

      The Most High is not a man, but God.

      December 3, 2012 at 1:26 am |
  10. Welcome to My Nightmare

    Please join me in thanking God for drunk drivers. Those teens would never have amounted to much anyway. Living to 18 is over-rated.

    December 2, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • TRUTH BE TOLD

      I shall give all GLORY and all HONOR to God ALMIGHTY in the good times and the bad times....now get off the beer, you sound drunk.

      December 2, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • Welcome to My Nightmare

      Thank you God for razors, without which we would have trouble shaving cancer victims head for their chemo. We know how you love the suffering. Praise God.

      December 2, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • TRUTH BE TOLD

      Yes, God, thank you for giving the doctors, nurses, and all physicians the wisdom to care for the suffering and for giving the hope that WMN doesn't have. I also thank you for the suffering who has been brave enough to trust you instead of whining like WMN....have mercy on her, for she is full of hate and is lost without you. Amen.

      December 2, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  11. Albert

    God bless Pope Benedict and all Christiandom and all Jews and all Muslims and all Buddhists and all good peace loving People around the Earth! MARANATHA! Amen

    December 2, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • TRUTH BE TOLD

      May God save us from the bondage of religion that the Pope, Muslims, Jews, and Atheism has kept many.

      December 2, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  12. Welcome to My Nightmare

    God, thank you for child abuse, cancer, down syndrome, SIDS, child abuse and all of the many other horrible gifts you have blessed us with.

    December 2, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • TRUTH BE TOLD

      AMEN, GLORY TO GOD, HE REIGNS FOR EVER AND EVER AND EVER......CAN'T STOP GOD FROM BEING GOD, NOW CAN YOU? BUT GOD CAN SURE STOP YOU FROM BEING A BITTER PERSON FULL OF LIES AND HATE.

      December 2, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • Welcome to My Nightmare

      Dear god, thank you for filling the world with ignorant uneducated morons like TBT. Without them, our world would be nice. Thank you for the misery caused by the idiot Christians of the wolrd.

      Also, thank you for the murder suicide of that NFL player yesterday. I love reading about your work. His girl friend's parents have two kids anyway, so they will be fine.

      December 2, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • TRUTH BE TOLD

      Lord, thank you for letting me see the evil minded fools who CONSTANTLY blame You for the wrong decisions that mankind makes and are always looking for an escape goat instead of putting the blame where it really belongs. Have mercy on WMN who so full of darkness and bitterness. May you save her and bring her into the Light of your Son that can only set her free from the bondage of sin that blinds her and keeps her bound in such deep depression and bitterness.....AMEN AND AMEN!!

      December 2, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • Welcome to My Nightmare

      Yes, god. Sally was going to celebrate her graduation and then head off to Stanford to follow her dreams. She was a good Christian but alas, she deserved to die by the hands of a drunk driver. Thank you god, your love is overwhelming. I hope you don't love me or my family.

      December 2, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • TRUTH BE TOLD

      Welcome to My Nightmare – Unlike you, Sally is at peace and your ignorance seems to show as death is no respect of people. I hope you give Christ a chance to live in your heart before Satan gets a hold of you soul after you die.

      December 2, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  13. TRUTH BE TOLD

    He looks like the son of the devil....oh wait, he is the child of the devil.

    December 2, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You mean he looks like you?

      December 2, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • TRUTH BE TOLD

      Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son – You are just another child of the devil posting on CNN.

      December 2, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Booga, booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga,booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga,booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga,booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga,booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga,booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga,booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga,booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga, booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga,booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga,booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga,booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga,booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga,booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga,booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga,booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga,booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga,booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga,booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga,booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga,booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga,booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga,booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga booga, blooga,BOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

      December 2, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • TRUTH BE TOLD

      LOL, did you think of that all by yourself or did your mommy visit you in the basement of her home to tell me what to say?

      December 2, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
  14. Akira

    What's he going to tweet?
    "God is great, God is good.
    Let us thank him for this rube.
    Amen."

    December 2, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • End Religion

      "eyeing sweet-cheeked youth in row 3. Can I get an 'amen'?"

      December 2, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      ....more flatulent than usual today...taking lunch in the papal latrine....

      December 2, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  15. Welcome to My Nightmare

    My twins died in the womb. I have dreams about them. Playing with them. I wake up bawling. Thank you god.

    December 2, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • TRUTH BE TOLD

      I guess you are happy that your twins died?

      December 2, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I guess Tubby is an idiot who can't figure out how to read.

      December 2, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • Welcome to My Nightmare

      Yes TBT, god delights in my suffering and the death of innocent children, so I am happy because god is good.

      December 2, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • TRUTH BE TOLD

      Welcome to My Nightmare – Oh, poor PATHETIC thing!!!! I lost a baby too years ago and I moved on to be a happy person and live for God, you faith has fade away over nothing. God is still good!

      December 2, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • Welcome to My Nightmare

      Yes TBT, god is good IF good = pain, suffering, death, dismemberment, dispair and all manner of the other fun things god loves to torture the planet with. Good call.

      December 2, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • TRUTH BE TOLD

      Welcome to My Nightmare – None of the suffering are whining they way you are. Maybe if you try to seek people who are less fortunate then you, you would stop being a bitter whining woman.

      December 2, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  16. Welcome to My Nightmare

    Thank you for my Psoriasis god. You are awesome. I didn’t want to go swimming with my children anyway.

    December 2, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Priest

      Stop ur whining and get over yourself.

      December 2, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • Welcome to My Nightmare

      Dear god, thank you for Priest. Another asshole with no empathy and no intelligence.

      Also god, thank you for all the children who, even as I am typing this, are being abused. You could do something, but you do not.

      December 2, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • TRUTH BE TOLD

      Oh, you poor pathetic little whiner....get over yourself, more people have it worse then you and have learned to move one. Stop being so bitter.

      December 2, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • TRUTH BE TOLD

      You are your OWN NIGHTMARE.....Is God responsible for the children that the parent brings into this world or did they just fall from heaven by God....boy, you are one IGNORANT FOOL.

      PRAISE THE LORD ALMIGHTY, THANK YOU GOD!!!!

      December 2, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • TRUTH BE TOLD

      *learn to move on*

      December 2, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Lovetwo

      I love you WTMN and God loves you too.

      December 2, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
  17. t3chn0ph0b3

    I want the FSM on Twitter. Then I might actually subscribe to Twitter.

    December 2, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • End Religion

      "cannot believe the wife cooked spaghetti for dinner.... AGAIN!"

      December 2, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • TRUTH BE TOLD

      Nope, sorry dude, if I don't follow this wolf dressed in sheep clothing, I won't follow your FSM, since it belongs in my tummy!!

      December 2, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  18. becool

    Even so I am a Baptist, but I'd like to encourage the Pope for this! Way to go!

    December 2, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  19. Adelina the Carnal Dentist

    Oh great. He has a pretty new blue helmet and table cloth to wear. Actually those mitres are the the headgear of the priests of Dagon. They are open fish mouths. Google it.

    December 2, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  20. Welcome to My Nightmare

    God's children. Cancer. Abuse. Neglect. Thank you god.

    December 2, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • DustyOnes

      You are welcome. You should see what I allowed Satan to do to Job. Job came out well, is your faith as strong?

      December 2, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • TRUTH BE TOLD

      You forgot Nightmare.....a child of God...oh wait, hmmmmm, that's not right, you are a child of Satan.

      December 2, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.