benedict-xvi

Pope to debut personal Twitter account

Feb. 27, 2012 at 11:07 AM ET

MAURIZIO BRAMBATTI / EPA
epa03118000 Pope Benedict XVI gestures as he addresses clergy of Rome during an audience in Paul VI Hall in Vatican City, 23 February 2012. EPA/MAURIZIO BRAMBATTI

Pope Benedict XVI will once again make Holy See history with the imminent launch of his own Twitter account, and will also be sending a tweet a day during the 40 days of Lent through another account, according to reports from the Vatican.

Through Father Claudio Maria Celli, the head of the Vatican's pontifical council for social communications, The Guardian reports that the 85-year-old Pope Benedict XVI will have his own Twitter account. Though he may not always write the tweets, he will approve each one.

The report quoted Father Celli saying, "The tweet can be reformulated, redistributed, relaunched and disseminated ... In this sense it is like the gospel, a small mustard seed that once scattered grows into bushes where birds can rest."

If you thought you already were following the pope on Twitter, tread carefully. There's a seemingly legitimate Twitter account with the handle @PopeBenedictXIV — many people may not notice the Roman numerals are off: The current head of the Roman Catholic Church is Pope Benedict XVI. And while there's a check mark next to the word "verified," don't be fooled. A real verified account has a blue badge that users can't fake.

Twitter confirmed it is not a verified account, and "If someone has reported this account for a violation of the Twitter Rules we will investigate and act according to what we find."

(There's also a satirical Pope Benedict XVI account on Twitter, one that seems directed at Irish politics.) 

The Vatican News Twitter account, @news_va_en, with more than 2,000 tweets and nearly 82,000 followers, has been around since last summer, when the pope directed his flock to the site with his first tweet on June 28.

For Lent, the Vatican news site also directs the faithful to follow papal messages from social networking project @Pope2YouVatican, with this explanation:

Starting on Ash Wednesday, themes from that papal message will be posted on Twitter each day during Lent and over the coming months other papal speeches and documents are likely to be tweeted in a similar way, hoping to attract the media-savvy generation and entice them to find out more ... But is it all just another technological gimmick that ‘dumbs down’ the message of the Church? Not at all, says Msgr Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, “many of the key Gospel ideas are readily rendered in just 140 characters.

His tweet today: "BXVI: Today too, the Lord’s voice summons all of us to be concerned for one another."

With more than one billion Catholics around the world, the pope's followers could very well make him one of the most followed personalities on Twitter. Will you be one of them?

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On Twitter, follow Athima Chansanchai, who is also trying to keep her head above water in the Google+ stream.

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