December 12, 2012
Pope Benedict XVI Sends Out His First Tweets
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
When Oprah discovered the Twitter social networking platform, many joked it was a sure sign that Twitter had already passed its prime – had “jumped the shark,” as it were.
Now, another public figure with an even larger mass of followers has joined Twitter, signifying the expected longevity of Twitter as opposed to its short-term trend status.
Earlier this month, The Vatican announced that Pope Benedict XVI would begin tweeting under the handle @pontifex on December 12, 2012, or 12/12/12. Hundreds of thousands of global Tweeters rushed to give his account a follow immediately following the announcement. At the time of this writing, @pontifex has roughly 793,000 followers.
True to his word, Pope Benedict XVI has sent his first Tweet today, offering blessings to all those who follow.
“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.”
Pope Benedict has already sent two accompanying Tweets this afternoon, speaking to faith in every day life.
His handle, @pontifex, is meant to signify his role as a bridge between Catholics all over the world and the Vatican.
As such, the Vatican has said the Pope will not be engaging in theological debates and will not be tweeting out any dogma.
"Every tweet will have been personally seen and approved by the Pope. They will be pearls of wisdom coming from the heart of the Pope's teaching,” said Monsignor Paul Tighe, an Irish priest and the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, speaking to the Telegraph.
Currently, the Pope is only following 7 other accounts, each of them his.
As another way to act as the “bridge” between the Vatican and the world, the Pope will be simultaneously tweeting in 7 other languages, such as French, German, Italian, Spanish and even Arabic.
Each of these languages have their own account, and each of these accounts only follow one another, creating a sort of Papal Twitter Ring.
Though a video exists of a crowd of Vatican officials surrounding the Pope as he interacts with Twitter via an iPad, the Pope himself will not be tapping away at the screen to construct the Tweets. According to the BBC, he´ll have members of his staff take his words or condense his sermons into 140-character bursts for him, but not without his approval.
"Once the Pope has personally approved the @Pontifex tweet, someone else will send it mechanically from a computer within the Vatican Secretariat of State," explained Monsignor Tighe, speaking to the BBC.
There´s also the issue of whether the Pope´s Tweets will be infallible.
According to the First Vatican Council of 1870, the Pope can only speak infallibly when he is defining a doctrine of faith or laying out the sort of morals which should be held by the entire Catholic Church.
There´s also the matter of where the Pope will be Tweeting: In order to speak infallibly, the Pope must be speaking “ex cathedra” or “from the chair” of Saint Peter, the first Pope.
As those behind @Pontifex have already claimed to steer away from issues of doctrine, dogma and even hashtags, the Pope´s Tweets will, in fact, be fallible, just like everyone else´s.