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Pope gets microblogging bug with @pontifex Twitter account

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The Pope is to start posting personal Twitter messages using the handle @pontifex next week, the Vatican has said.

Pope Benedict XVI will send the first tweet from his personal Twitter account on December 12. The account name means both pontiff and 'builder of bridges', and his tweets will be translated into eight languages as part of efforts to "reach out to everyone".

Pope to starte tweeting from @pontifex

© Twitter / @pontifex



Last year, the Pope tweeted from a Vatican account to launch the Holy See news information portal.

The Vatican said that he will "tweet what he wants to tweet" from @pontifex, although he is expected to sign off rather than write the messages.

"We are going to get a spiritual message," Greg Burke, senior media advisor to the Vatican, said in a statement.

"The Pope is not going to be walking around with a Blackberry or an iPad and no-one is going to be putting words into the Pope's mouth."

The Vatican confirmed that the Pope will launch his Twitter account with a question-and-answer session, delivering his answers in 140 characters.

People are now being invited to submit questions for the Pope to potentially answer via the #askpontifex hashtag.

The @pontifex account already has more than 135,000 followers, beating the Vatican account's almost 110,000 followers.

Pope Benedict XVI

© PA Images

Twitter logo

© Twitter



In his Message for World Communications Day on May 20, 2012, Pope Benedict appeared to disclose his coming debut on Twitter.

"In concise phrases, often no longer than a verse from the Bible, profound thoughts can be communicated - as long as those taking part in the conversation do not neglect to cultivate their own inner lives," he said.

Twitter's director of social innovation, Claire Diaz Ortiz, said that the Pope will be able to connect with "believers and non-believers alike" on the microblogging site.

She told Vatican Radio: "As a company it's important for us to have influential leaders and the Pope is perhaps the most important religious leader in the world who's joining our platform.

"We've seen great work done by other religious leaders in terms of what it means to reach so many people, so we're eager and hopeful the Pope will be able to connect with believers and non-believers alike."

Mgr Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for social communications, said that the Holy Father would use @pontifex to share his ideas with the up to 500m people on Twitter.

"I think symbolically this is very important, this is the head of the Church going into a new digital arena to share his words and ideas... it's an encouragement to those already present using Twitter and other forms of social media to reach an even wider group of people," he told Vatican Radio.

"When the Holy Father is working on sermons or talks he'll give explicit attention to how to formulate a shorter message that will be tweeted in his name, maybe with the longer Url attached... it's really an entry level of engagement."

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