Pope's first tweet hits 1m mark

2012-12-12 16:24
A screen grab of the Pope Benedict XVI Twitter page. (Gregorio Borgia, AP)

A screen grab of the Pope Benedict XVI Twitter page. (Gregorio Borgia, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Vatican City - Pope Benedict XVI hit the 1 million Twitter follower mark on Wednesday as he sent his first tweet from his new account, blessing his online fans and urging them to listen to Christ.

In perhaps the most drawn out Twitter launch ever, the 85-year-old Benedict pushed the button on a tablet brought to him at the end of his general audience after the equivalent of a papal drum roll by an announcer who intoned: "And now the pope will tweet!"

"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," the inaugural tweet read.

At around the same time the message was sent, the number of followers of Benedict's Pontifex account surpassed the 1 million mark with all eight languages of the handle combined, adding some 11 000 followers in the last two hours alone.

The first papal tweet has been the subject of intense curiosity - as well as merciless jokes, spam and commentary. "The pope has an iPad?" comedian Jon Stewart asked earlier this year. The Onion satirical newspaper ran a piece "Pope tweets picture of self with God."

And in perhaps a more long-term and problematic issue for the Vatican, the @Pontifex handle was flooded with spam from users remarking on the clerical sex abuse scandal.

Vatican officials have said they expected such negativity, but that is a risk they take by putting the Catholic Church's message out.

"These are already all over the internet, in newspapers, in so many forms of expression," the Rev Antonio Spadaro, editor of the Jesuit magazine "Civilta Cattolica" told Vatican Radio this week. "They form part of ordinary communication."

Benedict actually sent his first tweet over a year ago, using a generic Vatican account to launch the Holy See's news information portal. Someone in his name tweeted daily during Lent, part of the Vatican's efforts to increase the church presence in social media.

Vatican Radio

A personal Twitter account for the 85-year-old Benedict has been the subject of speculation ever since the Vatican's senior communications official said in February the idea was gaining traction.

Vatican officials have acknowledged the pope won't actually type the messages and that someone in the Vatican's secretariat of state will write them on his behalf. And so it happened on Wednesday: Benedict just tapped a button on the tablet to send the inaugural tweet.

But about an hour later, a Vatican official tweeted a question that had been sent to the pope in the long run-up to the launch, asking his advice about how to be more faithful in daily life. "By speaking with Jesus in prayer, listening to what he tells you in the Gospel and looking for him in those in need," the responding tweet read.

The Vatican has insisted that the words are the pope's alone, culled from his speeches, homilies or catechism lessons.

As incongruous as it may seem for the 85-year-old Benedict to be on Twitter, Vatican officials have stressed that he is merely walking in the footsteps of his predecessors in using the latest in communications technology to spread the faith.

Pope Pius XI, for example, caused a similar stir when he launched Vatican Radio some 80 years ago to bring the pope's message on radio waves around the globe. The Vatican also has its own newspaper, television service and maintains dedicated YouTube channels and an internet news portal.

- AP

Read more on:    twitter  |  vatican city  |  internet
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
35 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

We will give you police - Zille

A total of 250 000 police on the streets is one of the election promises Helen Zille made during an anti-drugs and gangsterism march in Manenberg, Cape Town.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Curve 9360

The BlackBerry Curve 9360 smartphone comes preloaded with Blackberry OS7...

From R1595.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Self-indulgence may be strong today. You may want to enjoy yourself to the fullest and share it with those that make you feel...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.