Bridge-build­ing pon­tiff to tar­get tweet­ing masses

Pope Bene­dict XVI to post with Twit­ter han­dle @pon­tifex.

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - By Aia Piani­giani and rachel Dona­dio New york Times

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.

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