The Vatican has decided that Pope Benedict XVI has so much to say that the Catholic Church's official Twitter account just isn't enough. He needs his own personal Twitter account, so that we can know what the pope is thinking about. All the time. Just like a Kardashian.
The Pope isn't new to tweeting. Last year when the Vatican launched its official Twitter handle, he tossed off a few 140-character messages to his billion followers. Well, the 110,000 of the world's Catholics (I assume, right?) who would be following the Catholic Church on Twitter. Pope Benedict XVI isn't set to send his first tweets from his new account, @Pontifex, until Dec. 12, but he already has more than 150,000 followers. Maybe it will help bring the Pope's thinking into the 21st Century.
I grew up in the Catholic Church, and I have to say I've lapsed over the years because I have trouble reconciling my beliefs about things like reproductive rights, women's rights, and homosexual rights with the Church's point of view. I don't like the way they treat the nuns here in America ... I could go on.
But is giving the Pope his own Twitter account is a sign that yes, the church is ready to embrace modernity and modern thinking? I followed him. I'm willing to give it a chance and see if I like what he has to say.
The Pope will be sending his own tweets at first. After his initial chat, the Vatican says he won't be tweeting himself, but he'll approve everything sent from his account. How often will he tweet? "As often as he wants," a Vatican spokesman said. That struck me as kind of funny, for some reason. I have this mental image of the pope, hanging out in the Vatican, suddenly looking up and saying, "Give me my smartphone. I need to tweet that..."
The Vatican has been trying to improve its image, especially among young people, with social media outreach. It's on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. (I'm not sure they'd be very good at Pinterest...) They decided the Pope should tweet instead of have his own Facebook page because they thought that would involve too much work.
If you'd like to chat with the Pope on Twitter, you can send questions to @Pontifex with the hashtag #askpontifex. He'll be responding to three to five questions from around the world each week.
Will you follow Pope Benedict XVI on Twitter?
Image via Jess Pac/Flickr