@pontifex, Pope Benedict's new Twitter handle


Pope Benedict XVI, pictured during his weekly general audience on November 7, 2012 at St Peter's square at the Vatican, has begun tweeting from his new Twitter handle.



It's religion in 140 characters or less.

Pope Benedict XVI, the spiritual leader of some 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, has a new twitter handle, @pontifex.

"The handle is a good one. It means 'pope' and it also means 'bridge builder'," Greg Burke, senior media advisor to the Vatican, told Reuters.

Pope Benedict has almost 90,000 followers, though he hasn't tweeted yet. The Vatican said, according to the BBC, that the pope will begin tweeting on Dec. 12 in Portuguese, German, Polish, Spanish, English, Italian, Arabic and French.

CNN reports the Pope's first tweet will answer a question sent via Twitter. You can send queries via the hashtag #askpontifex or #B16.

"We are going to get a spiritual message," Burke said in a statement. However, "The Pope is not going to be walking around with a Blackberry or an iPad and no one is going to be putting words into the Pope's mouth." 

So what will he tweet?

"He will tweet what he wants to tweet," Burke added.

The BBC reports Pope Benedict will tweet salient points from his "weekly general audience, Sunday blessings and homilies on key Church holidays as well as papal reaction to world events."

Other religious leaders, such as the 14th Dali Lama, who boasts 5,638,869 followers, frequently tweet (or at least their accounts do, even if they personally do not).

It seems the Vatican finally caught on to the social media revolution — though it has introduced other Twitter handles, such as @news_va_en, previously.

"This is the new market of ideas and the Church has to be there," Burke said in a press conference. "We want to use any method to spread the message. It's cost-effective and not very labor intensive and it is aimed at young people."

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