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Twitter welcomes the Pope

When the Pope joins Twitter, it’s a major event and Twitter history.  Pope Benedict XVI is the first Pope to join Twitter. Under the handle of @pontifex, the Pope has quickly amassed a large following before his initial tweet event scheduled for December  12th  where he will live tweet questions that you can begin asking now under the hashtag #AskPontifex.  Questions will be curated by the Vatican staff for the Pope to respond to via his new Twitter account.

The name Pontifex was chosen for a few reasons: it is a term that means bridge builder in Latin and the Vatican acknowledged there wasn’t a variety of Twitter handles available. The bold move to Twitter is the Vatican’s way of creating a virtual experience online sort of like the crowds that gather at St. Peter’s Square except these crowds gather online and watch the experience from their pajamas in front of a computer.

If you’re expecting the Pope to follow you back, you’ll be waiting for quite a while. The Pope will only be following seven Twitter accounts. These are accounts that he’ll also be tweeting from but in other languages:

– Spanish: @pontifex_es
– Italian: @pontifex_it 
– Portuguese: @pontifex_pt 
– German: @pontifex_de
– Polish: @pontifex_pl 
– Arabic: @pontifex_ar
– French: @pontifex_fr 

The main Twitter account (Pontifex) will remain in English. The Pope’s presence on Twitter is a turning stone for the religious community on Twitter. While there are several religious entities on Twitter of many faiths, the Pope on Twitter creates a unique experience for his followers and it also means that no matter where you are, no matter where you live, you can connect and get inspiration directly from one of the world’s most influential religious leaders.

The move is also aimed at drawing in the Roman Catholic Church’s 1.2 billion followers, especially young people. The messages will 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 Benedict’s posts, but the pope himself will engage and approve the content. Also, the pope will tweet on his own however often he pleases. The Vatican is also taking special precautions to make sure the Twitter accounts are not hacked and all tweets will come from one computer in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State.

While this is the Pope’s first official account, you may recall that he has once tweeted before from the Vatican’s official account when he said “Dear Friends, I just launched News.va. Praised be our Lord Jesus Christ! With my prayers and blessings, Benedictus XVI.”

What do you think of the Pope’s presence on Twitter? Will you be asking him a question? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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