It’s official. The moment that has been highly anticipated by Catholics around the world has arrived: the Pope sent his first tweet on December 12, 2012. He personally pushed the button on a tablet that was brought to him at the end of his general audience.
The news has been discussing his entry into the Twitterverse for weeks, and, without ever having sent a tweet, the Pope’s account already had 600,000 followers. When Benedict XVI (@Pontifex) sent his first tweet, he used all of the available 140 characters. His tweet read, “Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter (News - Alert). Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart.”
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Since then, he has already sent a number of tweets. His tweets thus far seem to be aimed at provoking thought. Some are questions, like “How can we celebrate the Year of Faith better in our daily lives?” and “How can faith in Jesus be lived in a world without hope?”. Later, he comes back and provides answers to those questions.
His Twitter launch is one that is, perhaps, even more talked about than Charlie Sheen’s. The Wall Street Journal reports that Twiplomacy study expert, Matthias Lufkens predicts that the Pope is on track to have seven million followers in his first three hundred days on Twitter. The tweets will be composed by the Vatican based on the Pope’s words, but he will not be typing them himself.
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told The Guardian that the Pope was determined to get on Twitter; “We have seen how much information and how many voices are out there, and we wanted to be present and introduce a positive and religious message.”
This is a vastly different message than the one put out there by Twitter users of the general public, who always seem to have a certain irreverence and lack of respect, whether it is a politician, celebrity, or, in this case, the Pope. Despite the positive message that he is providing, the Vatican must sift through a great deal of negativity and offensive questions.
Twitter, enthusiastic about having a new world leader among their ranks, is also providing the Pope with protection and instruction. One user known for setting up fake accounts with which to imitate world leaders said that he has never been cancelled as quickly as he was when he tried to imitate the Pope.
Hopefully, when all the excitement has died down about the launch of the Pope’s account, Twitter users will respectfully allow him to tweet his positive messages in peace.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman