Bridge-building pontiff to target tweeting masses
Pope Benedict XVI to post with Twitter handle @pontifex.
VaTICaN CITY — Now trending on Twitter: Pope Benedict XVI.
The Vatican announced Monday that the 85-yearold pontiff would begin posting messages on Twitter next week under the handle @pontifex, a term for pope that means bridge-builder in Latin. Within hours, he had more than 250,000 followers.
Benedict is expected to hit “send” on his first post at a general audience at the Vatican on Dec. 12 — a response to questions about matters of the faith that he is now accepting via the hashtag #askpontifex, officials said.
The Vatican acknowledged that it had chosen the @pontifex handle not only because of its meaning but also because many other handles had been taken.
The move is aimed at drawing in the church’s 1.2 billion followers, especially young people. Just do not expect the pope to start following you on Twitter or retweeting your posts, Greg Burke, a former Fox News correspondent in Rome who was named a Vatican communications adviser this year, said at a news conference.
“He won’t follow anyone for now,” Burke added. “He will be followed.”
Benedict’s posts will go out in Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish. The messages will mostly feature the contents of the pope’s speeches at his weekly general audience and Sunday blessings, as well as homilies on major holidays and reaction to major world events, like natural disasters.
Aides will write the texts of Benedict’s posts, but the pope himself will “engage and approve” the content. The pope will post messages however often he feels like it.