By Philip Pullella, Reuters
VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict, white-haired, 85 and a neophyte to social media site Twitter, has beaten out 18-year old heartthrob Justin Bieber to set a percentage record for retweeting by his followers, the Vatican said on Thursday.
The Vatican newspaper said that as of noon Italian time on Thursday the pope had 2.1 million followers on Twitter, eight days after his first tweet was sent.
While Canadian singer-songwriter Bieber has roughly 15 times as many followers — 31.7 million — the Vatican newspaper said Benedict had beaten Bieber on retweets.
It said about 50 percent of the pope's followers had retweeted his first tweet on Dec. 12 while only 0.7 percent of Bieber's followers had retweeted one of the singer's most popular tweets on Sept. 26, when he commented on the death by cancer of a 6-year-old fan.
The Vatican said this was part of a wider trend in which people were looking for more spiritual content.
The pope already tweets in English, German, Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish and Arabic. The newspaper said he will start tweeting in Latin and Chinese soon.
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