Pope Benedict XVI Communicates to Roman Catholics via Twitter


Pope Benedict XVI has started publishing tweets on the social networking site Twitter. He joins a number of religious leaders, such as the Dalai Lama, who are also sending out spiritual messages on Twitter.

Pope Benedict XVI, whose official Twitter name is @pontifex, was given an iPad to send out the messages. The tweets are being released in 8 different languages, but up to now English has been the most popular.
The Vatican announced that it is important for the Pope to join social networking sites because messages can reach the Roman Catholic community in the quickest possible way. And Twitter is a very effective way of doing this. At first Vatican officials were doubtful on whether to join Twitter or not.

The Pope has announced that he will only send out tweets that deal with spiritual issues. Via the hashtag #AskPontifex users can ask the Pope questions, as long as they are not personal issues. In the first week of tweeting, many of the Pope’s followers have consulted him on questions ranging from the use of condoms to gay marriage and poverty. The Vatican has also announced that Twitter will only be used to send out messages; Pope Benedict XVI will not retweet anyone or follow them.

The leader of the world’s 1 billion Roman Catholics will not type actively into his iPad, but he assures his believers that the messages are his own words. He hopes that people will be able to feel him more personally if he tweets to them. Currently the Pontifex has over one million followers.

Not all of the Pope’s followers have responded positively. While most Catholics think communicating via social media is a great thing, there are some who have made fun of the event or tweeted jokes.

Benedict XVI is not the first pope to communicate with his followers via new methods of communication.  Pope Pius XI was the first to broadcast a message via radio and his successor Pope Pius XII made the first TV appearance. John Paul II was the first pope to use the internet. The Vatican has been a regular user of YouTube for some time in an attempt to reach young people.



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  • announce = to say officially
  • appearance = to be shown
  • assure = promise
  • attempt = try
  • believer = a person who follows someone’s religion
  • billion = one thousand million
  • broadcast = send out
  • communicate = talk to
  • community = group of people
  • condom = thin rubber cover that a man wears over his penis  during sex to prevent a women from becoming pregnant
  • consult = ask
  • currently = right now
  • Dalai Lama = religious leader of Tibet
  • doubtful = not sure
  • effective = helpful, useful
  • follower = a person who checks the tweets of someone else regularly
  • gay marriage = when two people of the same sex marry
  • hashtag = way of grouping messages with the same content
  • issue = topic
  • join = unite with
  • message = note, news
  • official = formal
  • official = person who has a high position in a country or government
  • popular = well-known, accepted
  • poverty = the situation of being poor
  • publish = release, send out
  • range = here: about many different topics
  • reach = get in contact with
  • regular = often, normal
  • release = send out, publish
  • respond = answer
  • retweet = share another person’s tweet
  • spiritual = holy, religious
  • successor = the person after him
  • tweet = text-based message of up to 140 letters or numbers
  • via = by way of; through