By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
12/13/2012 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Pope Benedict XVI issued his first tweet yesterday, blessing followers, and thanking them for following his feed. The inaugural papal tweet was the first of several anticipated tweets from the Holy Father who is expected to send out regular messages every Wednesday.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Twitter feeds received the papal blessing yesterday with the message, "Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart."
The blessing came direct from the Holy Father and although it was delivered via mass-media, it could not help but make followers feel special.
The Holy Father then followed up with two more tweets, taking a question from followers.
The question was, "How can we celebrate the Year of Faith better in our daily lives?"
And Benedict's answer: "By speaking with Jesus in prayer, listening to what he tells you in the Gospel and looking for him in those in need."
The Holy Father already has a following of over one million people and that number is growing rapidly. Most of his followers are on his English account, however growing numbers are joining his Spanish, French, Italian, and other accounts, including 7,000 followers in Arabic.
Within the hour, his tweet had been re-tweeted almost 20,000 times.
Benedict has already said he will use the Twitter account to answer questions presented by the faithful on a wide range of topics. Each Wednesday, he will post a new question followed by the answer.
The move marks a new foray for the Catholic Church, into social media where both Benedict and Pope John Paul II have said the Church needs to be. With so many of the world's population connecting online and via social networks, the Church must make its presence felt in that community.
The surprising thing about Twitter - and a real challenge for the Holy Father, is that answers must be delivered succinctly, in 140 characters or less. Papal declarations sometimes have titles that exceed 140 characters. Adding to the challenge is the fact that many issues simply cannot be handled in 140 characters or less, for nothing the Church deals with is trivial.
Still, the Holy Father will have the choice of which question he wants to answer each week, so he can choose those that can suffice a simple answer rather than a complicated one. Those asking questions should be mindful of this limitation.
If you want to follow the Holy Father, he is tweeting under his Latin title, "@pontifex."
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