Worldwide yesterday, news outlets announced the welcoming of Pope Benedict XVI to Twitter. Yes, the 85 year-old Holy Father has a personal twitter account: @Pontifex. Well, actually he has eight. One in English and seven in other languages (to start). Combined, the Pope gained over 500,000 followers in a single day and that’s before he’s even sent out a single tweet!
(If you don’t know what Twitter is – tsk, tsk! Go read my Twitter primer here.)
“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.” -Benedict XVI at World Communications Day 2012
The Pope’s first tweet will be tweeted on December 12. Up until then people can ask him questions regarding the faith using #AskPontifex starting now and he’ll be answering selected questions that day. (Now if only I could come up with something profound to ask him!)
What I find exciting is that Vatican officials have explained that this truly is Papa’s personal account; the tweets will be of his creation. (But not his typing. I’m sure there’s a secretary that gets that honor.) He’ll be tweeting whatever he wants, whenever he wants. The tweets, however, are not to be considered infallible, just “pearls of wisdom” from his personal thoughts and reflections.
As someone involved in Catholic new media, I can’t be more that thrilled about this news. The Holy Father is doing what we all at ACNM strive to do: evangelize on a platform where all can hear the Good News we have to share. Because the Pope is such a visible, worldwide religious figure, I expect him to draw a lot of attention – from believers and non-believers alike. Just think of how exponential and instantaneous a single tweet from him can be when retweeted by his followers to their followers and so forth.
That’s why he chose the Twitter handle he did. “Pontifex,” Latin for Pope, also translates as “bridge-builder.”