Vatican says pope beats Justin Bieber on retweets

Giampiero Sposito / Reuters / Today
Pope Benedict XVI posts his first tweet using an iPad after his Wednesday general audience in Paul VI's Hall at the Vatican on December 12, 2012.

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.

Mark Blinch / Reuters / Today
Justin Bieber performs during the half-time show at the 100th CFL Grey Cup championship football game in Toronto, Canada, Nov. 25, 2012.

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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