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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. Reality

    All the tweets in the world will not put the twit's church back together again. Too many flaws in both history and theology as with all religions.

    December 3, 2012 at 9:26 am |
  2. AtheistSteve

    So why doesn't Jesus himself create a twitter account....Hmmmm?
    I mean everyone who believes swears he's alive and well. Plus he's supposed to be able to do whatever he wants regardless of whether or not it's physically possible so sending out the occasional twitter should be a piece of cake for him.
    Instead all we get is his ever present silence.
    Speaks volumes to me. Obviously the Jesus of the Bible, even if an actual historical man is being represented (and not a supernaturally empowered one....because that's just ridiculous), has been dead for over 2 millenia.

    December 3, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Chick-a-dee

      How hard do you have to work to come up with an inane idea and then post it?

      December 3, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • simple simon

      How could you possibly know if Jesus is in fact tweeting?

      December 3, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      CAD: Does he not have a point? You'd think if this jesus really existed he might want people to know he did and finally settle out the age long question of its existence...a twitter account or even a facebook account makes perfect sense.

      December 3, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      You would think a smarter than average entity would be able to come up with a sure fire method to prove a tweet authentic. But no, silence (and invisibility) is what we observe since his dramatic alleged outing 2,000+ years ago.

      December 3, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • Chick-a-dee

      That would remove all responsibility for learning, now wouldn't it? Do your kids actually "get it" when you lecture them? Or, do they learn when they are engaged, questioning, experimenting with ideas and thirsting for knowledge? Why would you question the concept that understanding God would require a desire to seek truth not just have it force feed through a tube?

      December 3, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • No2Atheism

      Hmmm, no wonder you are an Atheist.....you are too CLOSED MINDED to understand anything that has to do with God.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • No2Atheism

      Chick-a-dee – Well said, great comment!!

      December 3, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • Huebert

      No2Atheism

      Atheist understand God better than Christians do. We understand that God is exactly like all the other gods and goddesses through out history, that is to say he is a myth.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      No2Atheism: Closed minded about something that there is no evidence for outside of the bible? AtheistSteve is a recovering Catholic and I'm a recovering christian. We both grew up and left the imaginary friends behind with the others (Santa, the tooth fairy, the Easter Bunny, etc).

      December 3, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Chick-a-dee

      @ Huebert: RE: "Atheist understand God better than Christians do."

      I believe that your semantics are askew. Atheists, other than the ones who blog here, strike me as generally being rather bright intellectually. As such, I can readily agree that they know about God and in many cases more literate and studies on the subject. But that is far different from knowing God. And none of us can understand God from this side of the veil.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • Chick-a-dee

      Take II – with caffine...

      I can readily agree that they know about God, and in many cases are more literate and studied on the subject. But that is far different from knowing God. And none of us can understand God from this side of the veil.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      @chickadee

      you said "questioning, experimenting with ideas and thirsting for knowledge?"

      How ironic...it is precisely when I did this with my Catholic faith that the awful truth was revealed. There are no genuine answers provided from a religious point of view. That's why they all appeal to FAITH. Faith is the excuse given when no evidence is available to explain some mystery or inknown. You are no more informed about the unknowns or mysteries that face us all about life, the universe or our place in it. Using the God of the gaps argument doesn't provide answers...it avoids them and worse leaning stops.
      What would you do if today it was announced that scientists have uncovered the exact mechanisms that brought about abiogenesis? With all the unknowns swept away with clear biochemical processes and readily available natural conditions. In other words lab reproducible results that point to life emerging from non-life as not only likely under early Earth conditions but inevitable. What would that do to your faith? If it's demonstrated that God isn't required to bring forth life would you renounce your beliefs? Or would you instead move the goalpost(as has happened each and every time science demonstrated REAL causes) and say that your God was the one who set the initial conditions in place.
      I think the latter. Believers seem incapable of accepting not knowing something or not vicariously extending their lack of knowledge to some super being that DOES know.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • LinCA

      @Chick-a-dee

      All gods, without exception, are the figments of the believers imagination. There are no two that are exactly the same. Most are modeled on writings in some ancient book, and the prevailing interpretation of it, in the area where the believer grew up.

      Gods are created in the minds of children and shaped and cultivated as their inventors grow older.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • Huebert

      @CAD

      A thinly veiled insult followed by the old "no one really knows God" argument. I know a fictional character when I read one, and your God, along with every other god, is just that.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • Lovetwo

      I am alive and well Steve. Thank you for asking. This is all that CNN will allow me to write, other than to say that I love you All very much as does God love us All as well. I look forward to the future to share with you The Saving Grace that is "God's Promise". To Everyone have a joy filled day and God Bless. Glory be to God in The Highest. Amen.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • Lovetwo

      BTW Steve his first tweet as The Bishop of Rome, head of The Church of St. Peter should be my introduction to the world. This is his duty God and to man-kind. Much love. Amen.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Lovetwo

      Correction Steve. This is his duty "to" God and to man-kind. Much love. Amen. I am not perfect, only a Servant of God. I am not perfect, however "God's Promise" is perfect and it will Save The World. Thank you for reading.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Lovetwo

      You're a little behind the times. The Pope's first tweet went out 17 months ago when the Vatican set up it's first twitter account. And BTW...you can keep your little gated communitee (heaven) for yourselves. Sounds too much like hell to me. Endless worship...pious idiots everywhere...Kirk Cameron.

      December 3, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • Chick-a-dee

      Steve,

      What would I do if today it was announced that scientists have uncovered the exact mechanisms that brought about abiogenesis? IDK...isn't spontaneous generation a long discredited theory? Although I could almost swear that someone had already posted a detailed explanation of a chemical process by which elements can be animated through the application of energy. (And if anyone remembers this and can post the URL, I'd appreciate it. I intended to bookmark it and re-read it more thoroughly but I can't find it now.)

      What difference at all would it make if we were able to not only discover exactly how the mechanics of life's origins climbed out of the primordial ooze or not? Who cares if we figure out how to animate the inanimate? I have faith that God is the creator.

      As a Catholic, one would assume that you were exposed to the teachings of the church...but if not, you have an obligation yourself to find out what they are – not just what popular culture and the uninformed tell you they are.

      The Church teaches that God is the creator. It doesn't say anything about HOW he did it, or when, or how long it took. Actually, it teaches that everything that we learn about natural law is just a further revelation about the nature of God.

      That is why His Holiness convenes symposiums on science and religion. Without input from science, how can we determine the accurate way to apply God's laws to moral decisions about the world around us and our place in it?

      December 3, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Well according to scripture (the only authoritive text on the subject) the universe, life and man came from one massive creative event. where all plants and animals were spontaneously poofed into existence along with Adam and then Eve. Now that's what I was taught in church from the Bible but science has a different story altogether. BTW spontaneous generation of life from non-life IS what abiogenesis means. Much research is still ongoing in this field with some promising hypothetical scenarios.
      Now forget that moderate christians are apt to accept evolution as the mechanism for Gods plan to put life here how does that tie in with the story of Adam and Eve? Without the original sin happening in the garden of Eden we have no need of a redeemer and the whole Jesus sacrifice thing. (substitutional atonement is immoral in any event)
      Huebert said it best above when he pointed out that he recognizes a fictional character when he reads one...so do I. The Bible is fiction..and not very good fiction at that.

      December 3, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • Chick-a-dee

      @ Steve: Scripture may be the only authoritative text, but it is not the only authoritative source. It is in fact only one of the three pillars, accompanied by tradition and the Magisterium. The more you post, the more you announce that you either never actually were a Catholic or that your catechesis was poor to non existant. Catholics do not believe in literal translation of scripture nor do we discount science. You've got to go pick your bone with the evan-fundie crowd.

      December 3, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • Lovetwo

      Steve "What would I do if today it was announced that scientists have uncovered the exact mechanisms that brought about abiogenesis?" This is God's Promise and I discovered it. It is Immaculate Conception (A miraculous Idea/discovery). God led me too it. It will solve climate change there-by saving the world. It is Truth, the visual model The Theory of Everything/ The Grand Unified Theory. Within the model the Higgs Boson can be seen and it displays all forms of equilibrium and demonstrates "all" scientific processes and principals. It is for the healing of the Nation's. It is the Hope of the Future. Thanks be to God. Lots of Love! Capiche?

      December 3, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  3. Chick-a-dee

    Regarding yesterday's question about what the Pope has done to promote world peace.... he has spent his life teaching this message. Now if the rest of us would buckle down and LEARN it, we just might arrive at a place of world peace.

    360 Because of its common origin the human race forms a unity, for "from one ancestor [God] made all nations to inhabit the whole earth":

    O wondrous vision, which makes us contemplate the human race in the unity of its origin in God... in the unity of its nature, composed equally in all men of a material body and a spiritual soul; in the unity of its immediate end and its mission in the world; in the unity of its dwelling, the earth, whose benefits all men, by right of nature, may use to sustain and develop life; in the unity of its supernatural end: God himself, to whom all ought to tend; in the unity of the means for attaining this end;... in the unity of the redemption wrought by Christ for all.

    361 "This law of human solidarity and charity", without excluding the rich variety of persons, cultures and peoples, assures us that all men are truly brethren.

    PART ONE: THE PROFESSION OF FAITH
    Catechism of the Catholic Church
    SECTION TWO I. THE CREEDS
    CHAPTER ONE I BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER
    Article 1 "I BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY, CREATOR OF HEAVEN AND EARTH"
    Paragraph 6. MAN

    December 3, 2012 at 9:14 am |
  4. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    So when he tweets ex cathedra does he need spell check?

    December 3, 2012 at 8:43 am |
  5. Nothere

    Better to track alter boys with, I hear it is the new in-thing for all the Catholic priests.

    December 3, 2012 at 8:26 am |
  6. victim of priest pedo

    ..pope orchestrated the cover ups of child abuse. He and his church are nothing short of evil. What have they done to show others what is good and honest? Call victims liars and repeat 'others did it too". Yet the truth is the greatest healer. Guess catholic and truth just don't mix well together. Now bring on the deflectors.

    December 3, 2012 at 8:23 am |
    • simple simon

      Even Catholic priests can be saved. LOL

      December 3, 2012 at 10:00 am |
  7. Miyafuji

    Well alright Pope, just don't get angry if people bash you for every possible reason. Welcome to the internet ._.

    December 3, 2012 at 8:21 am |
    • Nietodarwin

      World population from year zero to 1910 stayed at 2 billion (give or take 500,000) By 1963, after 50 years of the internal compubustion engine giving us the ability to grow way more food, and the improvements in health care, it was around 3.2 billion In 2011 the world pop reached 7 BILLION. Di d we have the knowledge and ability to practice birth control and slow or stop the destruction of our planet. Of course. Did we use our brains and technology to do this, of course not. Why did we overpopulate and destroy our planet? Religion. It's THAT simple. Religion is destroying our future as a species. Religious people do not care about this of course, because each and every one of them believes they will be in a "heaven" for which they have no proof, living and eternal life, for which they have no proof, yet they are willing to bet the farm (in this case the planet and the future of humanity) that that little man in the sky exists. Ratzburger is a perfect name for the evil pope, he wants us all breeding like rats.

      December 3, 2012 at 8:58 am |
    • simple simon

      Correction to nietodarwin: From 0 A.D. until 1750, world population was steady at 500,000,000.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:06 am |
  8. Sane Person

    I'm amazed he even believes twitter exists. Its not in the bible.

    December 3, 2012 at 7:07 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Perhaps someone explained it to pope-a-dope as Talking Bush V2.

      December 3, 2012 at 7:10 am |
    • pet

      He's a Twit

      December 3, 2012 at 7:27 am |
  9. Kebos

    Ok, and we should care because......?

    December 3, 2012 at 6:50 am |
  10. nigel dixon

    What will happen is God unfollows him?

    December 3, 2012 at 6:47 am |
  11. Thenextstep

    The man is 150 years old. How exciting of a life can he live to want to be followed ..........................

    December 3, 2012 at 6:47 am |
  12. btinc

    He issued a press release that he's about to start tweeting? That says it all.

    December 3, 2012 at 6:40 am |
    • Tad Pole

      You hit that one right on the head.

      December 3, 2012 at 7:55 am |
    • K

      No. They were having a news conference and it was one item among many that was mentioned. It wasn't like the sole purpose of the press conference was to announce his twitter account.

      December 3, 2012 at 8:09 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      According to news.va, the sole purpose of the press conference today appears to be pope-a-dope's Twitter account.

      December 3, 2012 at 8:18 am |
  13. visitorscoop

    No thanks ... keep you BS to yourself PopeDude!

    December 3, 2012 at 5:45 am |
  14. Bootyfunk

    Here's some footage from when the Pope used to go door-to-door converting:

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fuet7GRv7Bo&w=640&h=390]

    December 3, 2012 at 4:35 am |
  15. Vatican Secretary

    The Pope’s new schedule:

    10:00am – Open casket and rise from beauty sleep.
    10:30am – Breakfast IV
    11:30am – Hat fittings
    1:00pm – Lunch IV
    2:00pm – 5:00pm: Send one tweet
    6:00pm – Dinner IV
    8:00pm – Bless something
    9:00pm – Casket closed

    December 3, 2012 at 4:33 am |
    • Sotzume

      Thank you for a wonderful laugh to begin my day!!!

      December 3, 2012 at 7:23 am |
    • 200 TON HAMMER

      LOL MAD FUNNY wow hat fittings aka DAGON
      hat fish head small god guppy dagon
      Fishy mad hatter hat lol

      December 3, 2012 at 8:51 am |
  16. worldcares

    The Pope will have workers tweeting for him.
    Regarding, The Dalia Lama, check out the interview with Piers Morgan.

    December 3, 2012 at 3:02 am |
  17. 200 TON HAMMER

    DAGON HAT FISH HEAD JUNKY LOL WOW how many fish hats at the VATICAN one wacky european family how can they served DAGON and a HEBREW speaking Middleeastern king of the Hebrews go figure lol

    December 3, 2012 at 2:50 am |
  18. Sam

    The infallible expressed in 140 characters or fewer. More papal bulls?

    December 3, 2012 at 2:14 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      More papal bullshit.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:19 am |
    • K

      Either your comment is an attempt at a zinger or you don't understand the doctrine of infallibility. If the former, please try harder. If the latter, you don't understand the doctrine and should look into it more thoroughly.

      December 3, 2012 at 8:05 am |
  19. Joe, San Diego

    OMG stay away Pope be prepared to receive naughty replies and filthy anti-religion comments

    December 3, 2012 at 2:03 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      He'll probably enjoy the naughty replies – at least the ones involving little boys.

      December 3, 2012 at 2:07 am |
    • K

      You think he hasn't heard all of the anti-Catholic, anti-religion, anti-God venom spewed by some angry atheists? If so, you're naive. As for the little boys comment, way to go for the cheapest laugh ... always good to see self righteous people aim low (and miss).

      December 3, 2012 at 8:02 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      K, by your response, it was not a miss. And, fuck off!

      December 3, 2012 at 8:05 am |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      " As for the little boys comment, way to go for the cheapest laugh ... always good to see self righteous people aim low (and miss)."

      LOL butthurt over the truth?

      December 3, 2012 at 8:14 am |
    • victim of priest pedo

      pope orchestrated the cover ups of child abuse. He and his church are nothing short of evil. What have they done to show others what is good and honest? Call victims liars and repeat 'others did it too". Yet the truth is the greatest healer. Guess catholic and truth just don't mix well together. Now bring on the deflectors.

      December 3, 2012 at 8:19 am |
    • K

      0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls: Oh make no mistake, it missed. I've heard these sorts of comment before, ad nauseam. And, quite frankly, they don't even rise to the level of an annoyance any more. If you want to participate meaningfully (and I wish you would), come up with substantive comments. Otherwise, I'll just stop replying to you here and now, so as to stop drawing undue attention to you. Of course, this leaves you with the opportunity to sneak in the last word ... so be sure to make it as sarcastic and invective as you can.

      December 3, 2012 at 8:20 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Victim of priest pedo nailed it!

      December 3, 2012 at 8:24 am |
    • Chick-a-dee

      Even if I didn't already know the Pope brings a holy message, this board would convince me of it. Only God, Love, Truth, bring out this degree of hatred and venom. Reading the board this morning reminds me of all those B-movie depictions of demons wailing and screaming as they are splashed with holy water and confronted by crucifixes.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  20. Blah

    Isn't this a bit too advanced for him technologically!! He should start by reading science books and stop preaching about ghosts and unicorns.

    December 3, 2012 at 2:02 am |
    • Babe

      It's postings like this that make me want to start the day by describing said poster as a part of the anatomy that resides between the legs. But I will refrain and instead put a shot into my morning coffee.

      December 3, 2012 at 8:54 am |
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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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.