Pope joins Twitter as @pontifex, will start tweeting on 12 December

3 Dec 2012

Pope Benedict XVI’s Twitter handle has been revealed and the account, launched today, has already amassed more than 15,000 followers.

Last month, Vatican spokesperson the Rev Federico Lombardi revealed that Pope Benedict XVI would be opening a Twitter account before the end of the year. @Pontifex is now the official Twitter home of His Holiness, though users will not see a peep from him until 12 December to mark the feast of the Madonna of Guadalupe.

The primary account will tweet in English, while separate accounts will feature tweets in Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German, Polish, Arabic and French with more languages to follow in future. It has been said the first tweets will address questions directed to @Pontifex but the majority of tweets will focus on Sunday blessings, homilies on Church holidays, comments from the pope’s weekly general audience, and his response to major world events.

‘Pontifex Maximus’ is a Latin term used to describe the pope, while the username also means ‘bridge builder’. A senior media adviser for the Vatican, Greg Burke, told the press that “the pope wants to reach out to everyone,” and made it clear the pope will be in control of the account saying, “No one is going to be putting words into the pope’s mouth. He will tweet what he wants to tweet.”

However, the pope will not send the tweets himself, rather he will sign off on them to be sent in his name. Previously, Pope Benedict XVI has tweeted through the Vatican’s news account, sending a message a day this year during Lent.

Elaine Burke is the editor of Silicon Republic