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Pope Benedict to Join Twitter, First Tweet by Year’s End

By Edward Pentin   |   Wednesday, 07 Nov 2012 09:37 PM

The Vatican is opening a personal Twitter account for Pope Benedict XVI, who will begin tweeting messages urbi et orbi – to the city and the world, Newsmax has learned.

By year’s end the Pope will join one of the fastest growing social media outlets to share his opinions and Church news, a Vatican official confirmed.

But don’t expect the Pope to be sharing full-length Papal encyclicals through such means, the official cautioned.

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Instead, the Holy Father’s tweets will be “fairly infrequent” and their content will probably “not veer too far from his texts, and on many occasions point to the things the Pope says,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

“It will be proper language, for example pointing to his weekly catechesis [teaching] or whatever he is doing on that day,” he said.

But the tweets won’t be flippant like those of celebrities. “You’re probably not going to get any tweets saying ‘a great new pizzeria has just opened in my neighborhood.’”

Will His Holiness be writing the tweets himself? Probably not, but the official said Benedict XVI will “have to sign off on whatever goes out.”

The Pope sent his first tweet using a Vatican account — not his own — last year, typing "Praised be our Lord Jesus Christ! With my prayers and blessings, Benedictus XVI" on an iPad.

The tweet announced the launch of a new Vatican news and information site, news.va. Apparently, the Holy Father liked the result and the idea for a dedicated Twitter account for the Pope. It has been in the works since that time.

“It’s going to be nice having the Pope up there,” the official said. “If you look at the top 10 tweeters in the world, those with the most followers, I think eight of them are entertainers - Lady Gaga, actors and singers,” he explained.

“I don’t know if we can compete with them – it’s hard to compete with Lady Gaga – but it will be good to have something coming directly from the Pope, something spiritual thrown into the mix.”

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Twitter allows account holders to reply to other tweets. The Pope “clearly won’t be replying to his tweets,” the Vatican source said. “Let’s hope his followers are re-tweeting rather than engaging, because I don’t see the Pope sitting down and answering replies to tweets.”

With a global flock greater than one billion faithful, the Holy Father may have more to do than be focused on his Twitter conversations.

Still, the Pope is said to relish the new media and the Vatican’s Twitter move is consistent with Benedict’s “New Evangelization” effort he launched in 2010.

Benedict began the New Evangelization noting that the “Church has a duty everywhere and at all times to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

The Pope has argued that “the process of secularization has produced a serious crisis of the sense of the Christian faith and the role of the Church” which has led to an “eclipse of the sense of God.”

In a message in 2011, Pope Benedict encouraged Christians to adopt a “Christian-style presence” online and make use of it as a tool for evangelization.

But he also urged users to use their discretion, to be open and honest in their communications, and not to confuse online friendships with deeper, lasting ones.

The Vatican’s foray into Twitter is not the first time it has jumped into new media. In 1930, Pope Pius XI was so taken by then new medium of radio that he asked Guglielmo Marconi himself to set up the Holy See’s Vatican radio broadcasting.

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Today Vatican Radio broadcasts across the globe in 40 languages. The Church also produces several multi-media websites including Vatican.va, broadcasts Vatican Television, and publishes newspapers in nine languages through L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s official daily.

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