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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(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. benedictineacc

    I am very, very pleased to see this. The Pope is indeed on the cutting edge, and while his critics continue to be confounded by him – the best they can do is falsely accuse of covering up abuse and bring up already-refuted articles from the Huffies, NYTimes and Der Spiegel – the Holy Father keeps moving forward in finding ways to convey the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a modern day that is in great need of its message of human fulfillment and salvation. God bless him and prosper this new avenue of his ministry!

    December 3, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      This has to be a troll.

      December 3, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
  2. Nietodarwin


    Websites, twitter, they are getting desperate and getting modern. It took them until 1995 to admit they were wrong to imprison Galileo for saying the earth revolved around the sun, ('They can LOCK ME UP but I'M STILL MOVING")
    W former catholics who are now atheists are getting close to the number of catholics. (it's like a brand, I don't believe in god or church, but having been raised that way, I'm " burned" (or should I say scarred.) At least I got out with virgin anus, I feel lucky.!!!!

    December 3, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • Chick-a-dee

      The Catholic Church and the Galileo controversy: acclaimed scientist attests to a distortion of history

      Church pressured to retreat into silence


      December 3, 2012 at 11:13 am |
  3. withoutgod

    His twitter account should be "Darth Ratzinger". Perhaps someone should tweet him to ask if he plans on rescinding the Catholic Church's treaty with Hitler. It should also be asked how it is that condoms increase the risk of AIDS. Another pertinent question would be as to how the Pope thinks atheists are Nazis, considering that Hitler said he was doing God's work by fighting against the Jews, and every Wehrmacht soldier had "Gott mit uns" stamped onto their belt buckles, and the Catholic Church celebrated Hitler's birthday until his death. I'm guessing though that there would be no response to these questions, as the crown prince of guilt and shame can't be bothered to actually address problems that exist in the real world. Instead, he admits that the Church made up Limbo, telling parents for centuries that their unbaptized children who had died were in a state of nothingness, awaiting the end of the world, only to now say oops, maybe we were wrong about that, but we are happy to be considered infallible nonetheless.

    December 3, 2012 at 10:57 am |
  4. tony

    Anyone who puts learning Latin at a higher priority than fixing pedophilia, needs to be crucified, not followed..

    December 3, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • beneictineacc

      Thankfully, it is not him. As a survivor of clerical abuse, I saw Pope Benedict defrock my abuser in 2005. Don't tell me he doesn't take these matters seriously.

      Oh, and please don't post links to the Der Spiegel or NYTimes articles – they have been refuted.

      December 3, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • Chick-a-dee

      @ beneictineacc:

      I'm so sorry that you went through this and hope with all my heart that you recover stronger.

      December 3, 2012 at 11:22 am |
  5. Sashatree

    Not a chance in hell! The Catholic Church is one of the most evil empires on Earth!

    December 3, 2012 at 10:54 am |
  6. major tom


    December 3, 2012 at 10:49 am |
  7. Honey Badger Dont Care

    I see this not even lasting a week. This twitter feed is going to be full of such hate and vitriol that there is no way that they will keep it open.

    Justified hate and vitriol of course.

    December 3, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  8. Johnny 5

    Never follow a man wearing a funny hat and cape. Bad things are sure to happen.

    December 3, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      Why not? It worked for Robin, the Boy Wonder.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Gerald

      Ah, culture ignorance and prejudice.. We never where funny hats and clothes in america so those people who do must be evil and will lead you astray.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • Nietodarwin

      In Spanish, (in Spain, land of the inquisition escpecially) an exclamation of .....'pheucking A" in English would be "ME CAGO EN LA HOSTIA' This would LITERALLY translate to "I sheeAT on the host"
      End of lesson

      December 3, 2012 at 10:54 am |
  9. PrimeNumber

    Any of you atheists ever heard of Somerset Mmaugham? No? He was a well known English author and atheist. On his deathbeat he called in another prominent atheist, A.J. Ayre. Maugham wanted Ayre to assure him that there was no life after death. Ayre "assured" him as requested. Later, Ayre had a profound near death experience after which he wasn't so sure in his disbelief. He was even reported to have said "I have seen the Supreme Being." When he recovered, his wife said, "A.J. has been so much nicer since he died."
    My point? Based on Ayre's experience, atheists will get nicer when they are less confident in their disbelief. This might empty this blog.

    December 3, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What a pompous azz you are, PN. If "niceness" is a trait of Christians, why are you and your buddies here the ones who are threatening everyone who doesn't share your beliefs with eternal damnation? Why are you the ones who want to deprive others of rights you enjoy? Why are you the ones who want to force people to live by your bible's laws when we live in a secular country?

      December 3, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      And by the way, stupid, Maugham was gay. How many of his stories and books have you actually read, PN?

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

      You should read some of his stories before misspelling his name.

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

      I have had many people in my life pass on.
      Not one of them have ever come back to tell me anything, one way or another.
      This little anecdote doesn't prove anything.

      December 3, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • cedar rapids

      Problem is there is only 1 person's word for this supposed divine being comment, and that was from his doctor, 12 years after the guy died. Ayer's own son says his father never said anything of it.

      December 3, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • Just Me

      Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son – If you feel like others are shoving religion down your throat, why do atheists hijack every religious articles that has NOTHING to do with them? We NEVER come to you, you FOOLS come to us.

      December 3, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  10. Nietodarwin

    Do you have a "relationship" with your dead pet buried in the back yard.? At least the pet DID LIVE at one time, so thinking about and talking to a dead pet( or friend) that is rotting in the ground makes more sense than praying.

    If God exists, I hope he has a good excuse.
    Woody Allen
    (Some "believers" have said that this makes "no sense" , just from a logical point of view, be one a believer or not, so let me interpret here.) Mr. Allen is saying, "If god exists, I hope he has a good excuse" (for even existing, because if he does exist he is really just SUCH an A$$OLE))

    December 3, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  11. thislittlepiggywentweeweewee


    December 3, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • Huebert


      December 3, 2012 at 10:36 am |
  12. Nietodarwin

    Just shut up and go away. I pledge to the USA, (ONE SECULAR NATION and NOT 'Under god" that was added in the 50's)
    PHEUCK THE POPE PHEUCK the American Talibangelicals, E N E M I E S of my country, of children's well being, of science, of the future of the (way overly populated because of religious ignorance) planet.

    “Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man.”
    _ Thomas Jefferson

    “If there is a God, atheism must seem to Him as less of an insult than religion.”
    _ Edmond De Goncourt

    “The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession.”
    _ Abraham Lincoln, Speeches and Writings, 1832-1858

    The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus…will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.
    Thomas Jefferson

    “Shake off all fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God, because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.”
    _ Thomas Jefferson

    December 3, 2012 at 10:30 am |
  13. idontknowandneitherdoyou

    He'll get an incredible following!
    Many of his priests will follow him for his daily 'how to hide your pedophilia' tweets.

    December 3, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  14. derp


    December 3, 2012 at 10:23 am |
  15. Just Me

    If there is no GOD to Atheists, why are they so STUCK on every religious article?

    December 3, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • LinCA

      @Just Me

      You said, "If there is no GOD to Atheists, why are they so STUCK on every religious article?"
      Because religious dimwits keep insisting that everyone follows their interpretation of what they think their imaginary friend wants them to do.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • simple simon

      LinCA: Seems to me atheists are stuck on these articles because they feel compelled that the material is meant for them. If not, why not just ignore the religious rhetoric? Who is making you believe or follow it? No one. It's only you who are here because you hear the call. Your soul wants to be fed. Deny it, yet here you are.

      December 3, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • Just Me

      LinCA – So the religious people make you click on this article by putting a gun to your head?

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

      Religion. It`s given people hope in a world torn apart by religion.
      Charlie Chaplin

      It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.
      Mark Twain

      “The reason people use a crucifix against vampires is because vampires are allergic to bullSPIT.”
      _ Richard Pryor
      If god created man in his own image, how come I'm not invisible?”
      _ David Powers

      December 3, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      1. to keep an eye on the crazies (believers)
      2. to correct the bullsh!t the crazies spew
      3. to show people, particularly younger ones, it's ok to reject their parent's cult
      4. the stuff crazies (believers) believe is just plain hilarious

      December 3, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • tony

      SICK OF SO MANY LYING BILLBOARDS ON THE STREETS I HAVE TO DRIVE PAST. Our children need to be protected from this "used car salesman" hype-tripe.

      December 3, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Just Me

      tony – And why do you even take the time to read what you are not interested in? When I see an article about atheists, I don't bother clicking on it at all because it's not for me.

      December 3, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Just Me

      You said, "So the religious people make you click on this article by putting a gun to your head?"
      Of course not. I voluntarily go there for three reasons.

      The first one is entertainment. I find it very amusing to see adults with all their hearts defend their infantile beliefs. Beliefs that are fundamentally no different from a belief in the Tooth Fairy.

      The second reason is to gather intel. Keeping an eye on what rattles around in the minds of believers.

      The third is to show passive bystanders how irrational the beliefs are that form the foundation of all religions. Who knows, maybe I'll save a soul.

      By the way, if you are looking for a christian echo chamber, this isn't it. Here you can expect to be asked for evidence to back up obviously ridiculous claims.

      December 3, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • LinCA

      @simple simon

      You said, "Seems to me atheists are stuck on these articles because they feel compelled that the material is meant for them. If not, why not just ignore the religious rhetoric?"
      It's not the articles. It's the attempts at legislating christian morals into secular law that tends to get atheists riled up here. Most will not care what you believe, or how you live your life. It is only when irrational beliefs and customs are forced on the sane part of society that they speak up.

      You said, "Who is making you believe or follow it?"
      There is no requirement to be a believer to come to, and comment on the Belief Blog.

      You said, "It's only you who are here because you hear the call."
      The call of the willfully ignorant?

      You said, "Your soul wants to be fed."
      You have any verified evidence of the existence of souls?

      You said, "Deny it, yet here you are."
      I'm here for the entertainment value.

      December 3, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  16. Smithsonian

    " 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?"

    The stories found in the Book of Genesis, Chapter 1-12, such as the flood story, the record is quite different: the time period under consideration is much more ancient. The factual bases of the stories are hidden from our view archaeologically. The stories remain a part of folk traditions and were included in the Bible to illustrate and explain theological ideas such as: Where did humans come from? If humans were created by God (who is perfect and good), how did evil among them come to be? If we are all related as children of God, why do we speak different languages? It must be remembered that the Bible is primarily a book of religion, a guide to faith. it was not a book of history, poetry, economics, or science. It contains all sorts of literary genre, which are used to teach about the relationship between God and mankind. Even biblical history is edited history: events were chosen to illustrate the central theme of the Bible. The Biblical writers did not pretend they were giving a complete history; instead they constantly refer us to other sources for full historical details, sources such as "The Annals of the Kings of Judah" (or Israel).

    It is therefore not possible to try to "prove" the Bible by means of checking its historical or scientific accuracy. The only "proof" to which it can be subjected is this: Does it correctly portray the God-human relationship? In the best analysis, the Bible is a religious book, not an historical document.

    December 3, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Why *wouldn't* anyone question this concept? Because some book without foundation or a bunch of religious charlatans say people must believe without question?

      December 3, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • Chick-a-dee

      Church doctrine is docu.mented and unchanged. It says nothing of the sort.

      That the protestants split of and splintered into thousands of different groups all claiming to have the correct interpretation of scripture is meaningless...and that is where you are finding the silly things against which you are railing in your posts. I can't answer for the literal translationists and neither can anyone else. I've found that dealing with them is kind of like trying to herd cats.

      December 3, 2012 at 11:44 am |
  17. from beyond the arc

    This makes Twitter worthy of its name.

    December 3, 2012 at 10:10 am |
  18. Not Surprised

    You know it really is predictable when you read these comments that the non-Christian people accuse the Christian's off all sorts of things – Being stupid, of religion being the root of all the worlds problems. But you only have to read the comments to figure out that who the hate filled, intolerant people really are.

    They're the ones who write the comments bashing others. Scroll down. Read a couple of the comments, or a hundred. It's pretty much a hate fest. The nasty people on this string and every other string of comments -the people calling other people names, disrespecting others beliefs, the ones assuming that they're smarter than everyone; Those patting themselves on the back for their latest scathing witty derogatory comment – are the anti-religious.

    Take a look at what you and your "superior" friends wrote and continue to write everyday. Then look for the posts from the religious folks calling you stupid. Your hate outnumbers theirs 500 to 1.

    There's a message in that.

    December 3, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • Nietodarwin

      Hogwash. It's not love or compassion or reason that keeps your religion going,it's murder. throughout the centuries. If you want to deny that, then deny ALL history. Here is some real reason on religion.

      “What I have a problem with is not so much religion or god, but faith. When you say you believe something in your heart and therefore you can act on it, you have completely justified the 9/11 bombers. You have justified Charlie Manson. If it's true for you, why isn't it true for them? Why are you different? If you say "I believe there's an all-powerful force of love in the universe that connects us all, and I have no evidence of that but I believe it in my heart," then it's perfectly okay to believe in your heart that Sharon Tate deserves to die. It's perfectly okay to believe in your heart that you need to fly planes into buildings for Allah.”
      _ Penn Jillette

      December 3, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • patting myself on the back

      I'm a more devout Christian than anyone I know. The Roman Catholic Church is a criminal enterprise that has continuously condoned, perpetuated and covered up horrific crimes against children. Not to mention women. And pagans. For centuries upon centuries.

      Jesus Christ purportedly said: "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." Sometimes the truth isn't pleasant. And then even more than at any other time, it should be spoken. I hate child molesters. Are you in the other camp?

      December 3, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • Nietodarwin

      Your hate outnumbers theirs 500 to 1" HA HA HA (You were writing to your fellow believers) I guess you need to learn to proof read.
      I agree with you, religious hate outnumbers hate of nonbelievers 500 to 1. Atheism is NOW growing and growing because I can write this from the safety of a computer, without the fear of you murdering me to PROVE that "god" exists by sending me immediately to him, without the least bit of guilt on your part, because you were "killing in the name of the lord" for the "good of god"

      December 3, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • Just Me

      So true and well stated!!

      December 3, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  19. from beyond the arc


    December 3, 2012 at 9:45 am |
  20. no nothing

    # boy_toucher

    December 3, 2012 at 9:29 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.