Even though he hasn't sent a single tweet yet, Pope Benedict had more
than half a million Twitter followers in eight languages on Tuesday, the
day after the Vatican unveiled his handle: @Pontifex.
They included people ranging from the simple Roman Catholic faithful to a Jewish head of state.
holiness, welcome to Twitter. Our relations with the Vatican are at
their best & can form a basis to further peace everywhere," tweeted
Israeli President Shimon Peres, who at 89 is four years older than
The Vatican said on Monday that Benedict will start tweeting on mostly spiritual topics from December 12.
pope actually has eight linked Twitter accounts. @Pontifex, the main
account, is in English. The other seven have a suffix at the end for the
different language versions. For example, the German version is
@Pontifex_de, and the Arabic version is @Pontifex_ar.
afternoon, the English version had the most followers, with nearly
400,000. The next largest was Spanish, with some 93,000. The lowest
number of followers was the Arabic, with about 3,500. Benedict's native
German had about 10,000.
But the pope, leader of some 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, won't be following anyone but himself, the Vatican said.
look at his official Twitter page on Tuesday showed that he is
"following" seven people but they are merely versions of his own Twitter
account in different languages.
The first papal tweets will be answers to questions sent to #askpontifex.
tweets will be going out in Spanish, English, Italian, Portuguese,
German, Polish, Arabic and French. Other languages will be added in the
The tweets will come primarily from the contents of his
weekly general audience, Sunday blessings and homilies on major Church
holidays. They will also include reaction to major world events, such as
He will push the button on his first tweet
himself on December 12 but in the future most of the tweets will be
written by aides, and he will sign off on them.
The Vatican, whose
website has been taken down by hackers in the past, said it has taken
precautions to make sure the pope's certified account is not hacked.
Only one computer in the Vatican's Secretariat of State will be used for
The pope's Twitter page is designed in yellow and
white - the colours of the Vatican - and his picture over the backdrop
of a St Peter's Square packed with pilgrims.
The page may change during different liturgical seasons of the year and when the pope is away from the Vatican on trips.
© Thomson Reuters 2012