In this June 2011 photo, Pope Benedict XVI uses a touchpad to send a tweet for the launch of the Vatican news information portal "www.news.va". He'll begin regular tweeting, under #askpontifex, beginning Dec. 12.(Photo: AP/Osservatore Romano)
The Vatican unveiled Pope Benedict XVI's Twitter account on Monday
and more than 200,000 folks "followed" hashtag #askpontifex even though
the pontiff won't post his first tweet until Dec. 12.
The idea is
that people can tweet their questions about faith to the pope --
eventually. Initially, like the tweets posted in his name in the past,
the postings will be "pearls of wisdom" from his speeches, Archbishop
Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Vatican department for
communications, said at a Vatican press conference.
old Benedict, who has written several best-selling books by crafting his
prose in longhand on paper, will not be at the keyboard. But "nobody
is going to be putting words into his mouth," said Greg Burke, a former
Fox News journalist who is now a senior Vatican adviser for
communications. "All words will be the pope's words," he told Religion
They'll also be translated into Spanish, French, Arabic, Polish, Italian, Portuguese and German.
Vatican will soon launch a new mobile app for smartphones, which should
be available for free on iTunes by year's end, and will start producing
its own e-books. "The Pope App" will allow Catholics to follow papal
Masses and events in real time, and to peek inside the Vatican through
Without explicitly citing Twitter, Benedict wrote in a
2012 message on communications that "concise phrases, often no longer
than a verse from the Bible," can convey "profound thoughts."
Vatican also sponsored an international conference for bloggers to talk
about conveying faith messages in social media. And in November, the
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops followed suit with an similar
gathering of U.S. bloggers during the bishops' annual fall meeting in
Twitter's manager of Social Innovation Claire Diaz
Ortiz welcomed the pope and pointed out that spiritual voices from
"globally-recognized names to local pastors and faith groups... embrace
Twitter to minister to their communities and share meaningful messages."