After joining Twitter earlier this month, the Pope attracted 690,000 followers without having sent a single tweet. Today, the patience of the faithful was rewarded when His Holiness shared his thoughts with the Twittersphere for the very first time.
On 12 December – the feast of the Madonna of Guadalupe – God’s representative on Earth chose these words to broadcast to the masses…
Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart.
Worldwide Twitter users also have the chance to read tweets from Pontifex (which means both “Pope” and “bridge builder”), with separate accounts in Spanish, English, Italian, Portuguese, German, Polish, Arabic and French broadcasting messages taken largely from the contents of the Pope’s weekly general audience, Sunday blessings and homilies on major Church holidays, plus reactions to significant world events.
Although many of the tweets are not expected to be from Pope Benedict XVI himself, but from his aides, today’s words did indeed emenate directly from His Holiness. And they appear to have been well received, with a healthy 18,000 retweets for his first effort, at the time of writing.
Despite this successful first foray into social media, the Vatican has decided against a personal Facebook account, citing the manpower required and interactions that are deemed too personal. The latest move into the digital space follows the launch of the Vatican website www.pope2you.net in 2009.