Pope to start tweeting from December 12

Last Updated: Wed, Dec 05, 2012 07:40 hrs

Pope Benedict XVI, who is known to be the least-accessible person on Earth, will start tweeting with the handle -@pontifex from December 12, the Vatican said on Monday.

The historic announcement set off a deluge of comments and questions from people who couldn't believe they would actually be communicating with the successor of Jesus's apostle Peter, the Washington Post reported.

The Catholic Church has largely sat out the social-media revolution. The possibility of making the leader of the world's largest faith group accessible via your iPhone has staggering potential.

A day after the announcement of @pontifex and before sending out a single tweet, the pope had nearly a half-million followers.

That's a huge change from the hefty encyclicals and multi-volume meditations on Jesus that the 85-year-old theologian has typically used to communicate.

In the wake of Monday's announcement, social-media experts and regular folk alike have been wondering: Will he respond in real time to events, potentially making news far more often and shaping global debate? What will his "voice" be like, his personality in 140 characters? Seen by some as an aloof academic, will the Holy Father do what other public figures have done, zapping out tweets about pets and sports? Could someone of his unique stature change Twitter? Could Twitter change him?

"I don't think we'll be seeing him use emoticons. I don't think he'll be cutesy-poo about anything," Elizabeth Scalia, managing editor of the Catholic channel at the Web site Patheos and an avid blogger and tweeter, said.

"But he can speak in the language of the Good Shepherd, and he understands the world needs some gentleness," she said

The Vatican said that he will start tweeting on mostly spiritual topics from December 12.

But the pope, leader of some 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, won't be following anyone but himself, the Vatican said.

A look at his official Twitter page on Tuesday showed that he is "following" seven people but they are merely versions of his own Twitter account in different languages, according to News24.com.

The first papal tweets will be answers to questions sent to #askpontifex.

The tweets will be going out in Spanish, English, Italian, Portuguese, German, Polish, Arabic and French. Other languages will be added in the future.

The tweets will come primarily from the contents of his weekly general audience, Sunday blessings and homilies on major Church holidays.

They will also include reaction to major world events, such as natural disasters.

The pope's Twitter page is designed in yellow and white - the colours of the Vatican - and his picture over the backdrop of a St Peter's Square packed with pilgrims.

The page may change during different liturgical seasons of the year and when the pope is away from the Vatican on trips. (ANI)

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