Tweet Jesus! Pope opens a Twitter account

STAND by with bated breath … Ratzi is due to air his thoughts on Twitter on December 12, and thereafter will be tweeting like a mad thing.

Although he hasn’t even started tweeting yet, Ratzinger already has over 411,000 followers and the number’s rising fast

According to Vatican sources, his own personal Twitter account has been created:

To help the Church directly engage with believers and non-believers and to encourage the faithful already using and considering using new social media.

According to this report, the Pope’s new Twitter handle is @Pontifex.

When it becomes active, Twitter users be able ask “the Holy Father” questions on matters of faith.

Addressing a crowded Vatican press conference yesterday, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, said the Holy Father’s presence on Twitter:

Is a concrete expression of his conviction that the Church must be present in the digital arena.

The initiative, he added, expresses a:

Desire of the Pope to enter into a dialogue with men and women of today and to meet them where they are.

Msgr Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, stressed that what’s important about this initiative is “not really about how we make use of new technologies” or about the Vatican being at the “cutting edge” of technology, but about how the Church can be:

Effectively present in the digital sphere … It’s not so much about the use of the technology as about appreciating the potential that this offers for reaching more people.

Initial tweets will be made during Wednesday general audiences, but future tweets may appear at other times. The Pope, whose account will be certified, won’t be physically typing the tweets, but the Vatican stressed they will all come from him. Said Greg Burke, senior media adviser to the Vatican’s secretary of state:

All the tweets are the Pope’s words; nobody is going to be putting words into the Pope’s mouth.

He explained that the handle @Pontifex was chosen because:

It means bridge-builder and at the same time suggests unity and hope – unity not only with Catholics, but all men and women of good will who want to hear the message and have open minds and open hearts.

Asked about their content, Burke said:

The Pope will tweet about whatever the Pope wants to tweet about; it will always be a spiritual message.

The Vatican also announced it will also be launching another new communications tool: an app for smartphones and tablets that allows subscribers to watch live video feeds from the Vatican and access all Vatican news sources, such as Vatican Radio and

Simply called “The Pope App,” it will also contain recent images of the Pope and live camera feeds of the Vatican. iPhone and iPad users will be able to download the application next week. It will be available to Android users in January.

While Vatican is pulling out all the stops on the technological front, Turkey appears to be retreating ever faster into Islamic fundamentalism.

Today we learned that the country’s broadcasting regulator is fining a television channel, CNBC-e more than £18,000 for insulting religious values after it aired an episode of The Simpsons which shows God taking orders from the devil.

According to this report, RTÜK explained that the fine was necessary because the episode was:

Making fun of God, encouraging the young people to exercise violence by showing the murders as God’s orders and encouraging them to start drinking alcohol on New Year’s Eve night.

One of the characters is abusing another one’s religious belief to make him commit murders. The Bible is publicly burned in one scene and God and the Devil are shown in human bodies.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, the episode also shows God serving the Devil coffee.

Commented Mehmet Yilmaz, a columnist for the Hurriyet newspaper:

I wonder what the script writers will do when they hear that the jokes on their show are taken seriously and trigger fines in a country called Turkey.

Evoking a popular Turkish stereotype of a pious government supporter, he added:

Maybe they will add an almond-moustached RTÜK expert to the series.

Hat tip: Peter and BarrieJohn (Turkey report)


13 responses to “Tweet Jesus! Pope opens a Twitter account”

  1. remigius says:

    Wow 411,842 followers.

    That’s 411,830 more than Jesus had!

  2. AgentCormac says:

    Yeah, but is god one of them?

  3. Stonyground says:

    I suppose that it is a neat trick that the RCC does having one foot in the 21st century and the other foot in the dark ages. Were these people the ones saying that the internet was evil just a few years ago, or was that a different Xian bunch?

    My fifteen year old daughter related that her and her friends had been taunting some street preachers a couple of weeks ago. Two of her gay male friends stood in front of them holding hands. The best bit was when the preachers announced that facebook was inspired by the devil, this prompted one of her female friends to loudly announce, “Really?, Oh My God, I totally need to update my status”.

    As to the Pope’s attempts to move with the times. He is only going to be of interest to people who are Catholics already. I expect that even they will lose interest pretty quickly, when they realise that he has nothing to say that they haven’t heard ten thousand times before. The internet can be very unforgiving Ratty, if you crash and burn, every enemy that you have on this planet will know, instantly.

  4. AgentCormac says:

    According to a BBC report:
    “The Pope is taking to Twitter because the Vatican feels driven to respond to the growing number of defections from the Catholic Church in an ever more secularised Europe.”

    In other words, another last-ditch attempt to make the ideas and ideals of a fast-failing sect seem somehow relevant to a society that no longer needs or wants them – or, more to the point, no longer lives in fear of them.

    I can almost hear the sound of a skeletal papal hand clutching desperately at imaginary straws.

  5. Matt Westwood says:

    Tempted to tweet him on a matter of spirituality: “Did Jesus spit or swallow?”

  6. Stonyground says:

    The thing about Jesus is that, according to the, rather confused, personality that the New Testament says that he had, he would be a bit pissed off with the Vatican. Why do Catholics not notice the vast gulf between the supposed teachings of Jesus and the behaviour of those who are claiming to be the bearers of his message?

  7. remigius says:

    Stonyground. As Ken will tell you, most Christians prefer to unfriend Jesus and follow @Paul.

  8. Broga says:

    What a waste of time. One section of respondees will be the usual religious suspects asking the same mindless questions and getting the same knee jerk answers. The other section will be the militant/aggrssive secularists who will ask questions considered offensive i.e. fair and rational, and they will be ignored.

  9. barriejohn says:

    Broga: Like Prime Minister’s Questions! “Does Your Ghoulishness not agree that the Catholic Church is the finest institution ever known to man – the repository of all truth and all knowledge necessary for true holiness and spiritual satisfaction…blah! blah! blah!”

  10. Mike de Fleuriot says:

    I suppose that it is a neat trick that the RCC does having one foot in the 21st century and the other foot in the dark ages

    Why does the imaging of kicking in the fork come to mind?

  11. […] a note to the man who poses as @pontifex on Twitter: a century ago, your church demonised the Jews in a similar, tawdry fashion. Your bishops repeated […]