Pope Blesses Followers in First Tweet
Pope Benedict's XVI used his first tweet to bless the approximately 648,000 people who followed him before he had even made his first Twitter appearance.
Wed, December 12, 2012
Using an Apple iPad, the pope launched his Twitter presence with seven tweets Wednesday, even answering a few questions sent to him via the #askpontifex hashtag.
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As of noon ET on Wednesday, the pope had more than 800,000 followers for his English Twitter account and more than a million followers, including accounts in Arabic, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish.
The pope himself is not writing the Twitter messages, but he reportedly will approve them all before they are sent.
Benedict joins a growing list of world leaders and celebrities who have added their voices to Twitter, including President Barack Obama, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, and former French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Archbishop Claudio Celli, head of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, told Vatican Radio that the pope joined Twitter, not to gain online popularity, but to reach the faithful in a modern medium.
"The Holy Father is not looking for popularity. This doesn't correspond to a pope and it doesn't correspond to the style of Pope Benedict XVI," Celli told Vatican Radio. "I think he is choosing a way to be present where people are. ... The peculiarity of the new technologies is to create an environment where people are living and in such a milieu we have to announce the Gospel, to announce Jesus. We have to be there!"
Twitter even lent a hand to the pope, sending Claire Diaz-Ortiz , Twitter's manager of social innovation, to the Vatican to help get the pontiff started.
Diaz-Ortiz tweeted about her experience from the room where the Pope Benedict was sending his first tweets.
"The Pope now giving his message. Thank you, Stanford University, for teaching me (bad) Italian," she tweeted. Later she added, "I see @cardinalsean (O'malley) in the audience, sitting in front of Archbishop Celli. He's a great Twitter example for religious leaders."
For his first day on Twitter, the pontiff focused on answering a few questions.
"Any suggestions on how to be more prayerful when we are so busy with the demands of work, families and the world?" was one tweeted question.