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

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[twitter-follow screen_name='bencnn']

(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:

[tweet https://twitter.com/hana161616/status/275566671274594304%5D

[tweet https://twitter.com/vmsalama/status/275562732114309120%5D

[tweet https://twitter.com/DynaMoxie/status/275562850121023488%5D

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Pope Benedict XVI

soundoff (665 Responses)
  1. Welcome to My Nightmare

    Student arrested in fatal shooting of 13-year-old girl on Florida bus.

    December 2, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • No2Atheism

      NIGHTMARE, have you become CNN reporter or are you too busy showing us how low your life has become since you started to hate GOD for losing your twins?

      December 2, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot


      It's not surprising that you are this gullible. Get a clue, kid.

      WtMN is posting these disasters for dramatic effect - they did not necessarily happen to him directly. Thing is, though, they have happened to someone.

      Actually, you should be well-versed on this kind of presentation - your Hebrew Bible writers were experts at melodrama.

      December 2, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
  2. Welcome to My Nightmare

    A tragic accident took the lives of at least 47 school children in Egypt today, when bus collided with a train.

    December 2, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
  3. krakalakin

    It's interesting that religion practices selective science....that which supports its bid to unify and subjugate humanity under a single work of fiction is embraced, while that which questions the validity of its mandate on this planet is villified and dubbed heretical....its an old story, and religion is running out of tricks to keep up the charade....a witch doctor sending tweets is still a witch doctor...

    December 2, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
  4. Pope Benedict

    Hopefully Africa has widespread technology now so that I can reach more people.

    @Africa: Condoms increase the chance of AIDS!

    December 2, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • Welcome to My Nightmare

      Lindsay Lohan

      December 2, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
  5. Welcome to My Nightmare

    Thank you god for watching over the children drowned by their own mother in the bath tub.

    December 2, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
  6. Bootyfunk

    here's some footage from when the pope used to go door to door converting:


    December 2, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • No2Atheism


      December 2, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
  7. MarcosLB

    Hmm, the pope who is a twit is opening a twitter account. Makes sense to me.

    December 2, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
  8. Mohammad A Dar

    85 years old tweeter is more dangerous than a profession with 9mm.

    December 2, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
  9. shelly

    I'm sure Twitter will be an excellent place for him to pick up & abuse underage boys. I'm surprised he didn't think of this earlier.

    December 2, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
  10. pedopope

    best reason to keeps kids from twitter..

    December 2, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
  11. Mike

    It's only natural that he use Twitter. It is the final refuge for irrelevant people who try to be heard

    December 2, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • Sofia

      I'm pretty sure that's the CNN comments section.

      December 2, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
  12. lionlylamb

    My 1st twit to Pope would be;

    The Universally-Formed Cosmos of Triune Manifestation

    We all live amid two chasms of cosmological orders. We have the inner-cosmos and the outer-cosmos. The inner-cosmos is atomically made and is the universal construct of the outer-cosmos. One could not have an outer without an inner. Both are synonymously of the same natures. It stands to reason the inner-cosmos was made first and the outer-cosmos came into being only after the passive finalization of the inner-cosmos was made near complete. The inner-cosmos is transcendent and fixed while the outer-cosmos is ascendant and malleable in their dualities natures.

    The third cosmos is of life itself made from the inner-cosmos decidedly living upon the terrestrial faces of the celestial outer-cosmos. This third cosmos is the celled cosmos or the cellular cosmologic orders of all life forms made anywhere cellular life can gain a foothold to evolve and gain in the abundant natures toward the evolution of its structures ever evolving. Without the two main Cosmos coming into existence; living cellular cosmologies could not exist.

    The triune or threefold nature of chasm cosmologies is being one of the greatest and grandest gestures ever to have been formulated! To say God had nothing to do with such a feat of cosmologic inter-dependencies seems an infallible congruency inconsistent for one to say or think otherwise. To say the nature of God is to keep inflating the physical elements of the outer cosmos while deflating the essence needs for the inner-cosmos leaves one to wonder about the third cosmological construct’s real nature for having been created. Why then is there here upon earth many variable cellular cosmos’s of living abundant cosmologies and when did such life become triumphantly established?

    The history of multifaceted cosmological expansionism within celestial symmetries comes from the terrestrial complacencies of planetary regularities and solarized objectivism wherever the abundance of inner cosmologies coalesces to form stars, planets and moons among many other fragmented structures within the spatial confines of a universally formed Cosmos.

    Life, upon the celestial shorelines of the terrestrially compliant are as a biologically ‘cellularistic’ cosmological constant, and were ever formed and are continually forming seemingly unto forever as well placed living conglomerations in naturalisms arcades of wondrous cavalcades marching in steps of melancholy tributes to God upon the most high cosmos of universally formidable formations on the highest of unimaginable grounds!

    December 2, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
    • 200 TON HAMMER

      Hello prayer bot

      December 2, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • Akira

      Ll, that would be like 400 tweets, not one.

      December 2, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • End Religion

      140 characters max, lamb. You might want to sit the bench on this story.

      December 2, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
  13. Patrick O'Reilly

    "Pray for starving children while I hold this gold cross."–The Pope.

    December 2, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
    • End Religion

      "Hmmm... where should I store this next box of cash? Time for another storage room! Amen!" – The Pope.

      December 2, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • No2Atheism


      December 2, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
  14. teatbag

    Block your little boys twitter accounts. The King of Ped is after them.

    December 2, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
  15. And Now, The Pope's First Twitter!!!!

    @ HeeeeeeeeeeresPopey!!! !“My hovercraft is full of eels. Fetch me another choir boy, Sir William; I cannot wait until lunchtime! I've just pissed in my pants and nobody can do anything about it! My nipples explode with delight!"

    December 2, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • A Message From The Papal Staff

      Uh, we have hired a twitterer to assist the Holy Father, as he seems to be having a bit of trouble with the keyboard.

      December 2, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • And Now, the Pope's Second Twitter!!!

      @ HeeeeeeresPopey!!!! "Give me that back, Torquemada! Just who is Pope here anyway, me or Larry Hagman? Free the ta-tas!!!! I like velveeta! When will the parade begin?"

      December 2, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • Another Message From The Papal Staff

      Rumors of the Pope's senility are totally untrue.

      December 2, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • And Now, the Pope's Second Twitter!!!

      @ HeeeeeeeeeeresPopey!!! "Of course I'm not senile! I'm just pining for the fjords!

      I still love you, mein Führer!!! Not many people know it, but the Fuhrer was a terrific dancer.

      December 2, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • Sue

      As a no longer practicing Catholic, it never ceases to amaze me that the church can really get with the 23rd century, but still with regards to Birth Control it will forever remain in the dark ages.

      December 2, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • Akira

      Sue: 23rd century?

      December 2, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
  16. chris

    this dude looks like a naked mole rat

    December 2, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • 200 TON HAMMER

      LoL mad funny its that DAGON fish head hat sucking the life force out of the european pope

      December 2, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  17. 200 TON HAMMER

    OH BOY POPE WHY DO YOU keep wearing all those DAGON FISH HEAD HATS,give it up jesus would slap that idol fish head DAGON god off your head.he did not wear nothing like that pope come on its not right and its ugly hat fish head DAGON.

    December 2, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • End Religion

      "Currently reading The Dunwich Horror. Cannot get enough of my main man H. P. Lovecraft !!!"

      December 2, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • 200 TON HAMMER

      Google DAGON FISH HEAD HAT LOL you see pictures of tge pope and tge last pope with many DAGON FISH HEAD HATS

      December 2, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
  18. Chick-a-dee

    @ The Court: The Catholic Curch has been teaching that there is no conflict with the theory of evolution since the 1950's. The 700 club got the message this week.

    December 2, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • End Religion

      Sweet! Then the church agrees god must look like Mitochondrial Eve, at least until the Hydrothermal vent hypothesis is supported enough to change "god's image" to an aquatic microorganism.

      December 2, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
  19. Welcome to My Nightmare

    A boy’s stepfather kept him locked in his room for six years, using an alarm and hooks and straps to keep him imprisoned in his bedroom. The step-father with-held food and water and sexually tortured and physically and emotionally abused the child from the time he was 11 up until he was 17.

    Thanks god! I am sure that boy deserved it.

    December 2, 2012 at 6:07 pm |

      Hmm, no wonder your twins had to die in your womb, you would be doing the same thing to them because in your twisted evil mind, they would also have deserved it.

      Thank you God for sparing the twins and NOT let them be raised in the hands of this evil woman.

      December 2, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • Welcome to My Nightmare

      I have to assume they deserved it because god is a loving and fair god. God is perfect. Thank you god for all of the innocent children killed in drive by shootings.

      December 2, 2012 at 6:13 pm |

      TRUTH BE TOLD – Your assumption is IGNORANCE.....thank God for sparing your children or you would have drove by and shot both of them with your stupid mentality.

      December 2, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  20. Chick-a-dee

    Well herrbert, Cardinal Ratzinger, now pope Benedict, went on record saying that the U.S.'s war in Iraq met the criteria for an unjust war...and now he has gone public saying that there should be a two state solution to peace between Israel & Palestine with Jeruselam set as an independent city state for all the world. All that flies in the face of our foriegn policy. Maybe that's why no one paid any heed. ..... BTW what have YOU done to promote world peace?

    December 2, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • End Religion

      I participated in Hands Across America on on Sunday May 25, 1986. Oh, wait, that was to fight homelessness... Um... I wrote to my brother who was in the army during the First Gulf War, therefore I helped raise morale of our fighting troops who then brought peace to Kuwait. I think.

      One thing I didn't do was sweep child r@pe under the rug, like the pope did. He's likely still doing it. I was also never personally a Hitler Youth, which is sorta the opposite of world peace.

      December 2, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • saggyroy

      As for me. What have I done for world peace? Well I haven't burned any witches, or flew any airplanes into buildings.

      December 2, 2012 at 8:57 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.