News of celebs and notable figures joining Twitter is nothing to write home about these days, but it is worth noting that none other than the Pope might soon be communicating in messages of up to 140 characters as the Catholic church continues to explore new communications options.
The Associated Press reports comments from Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi that reveal that 85-year-old Pope Benedict XVI is ready to get his tweet on and set up a personal account on the hit microblogging service.
The church isn’t a stranger to the service since it has a range of Twitter presences — including verified account @news_va_eng — which were established last year when it launched an online news site to keep the world’s billion plus Catholics up to date via the Web.
Pope Benedict is known to still write items by hand rather than on computers or other digital devices so it seems very unlikely that he will actually be involved in pushing the button, or even formulating the tweets themselves, such is the role of digital advisers these days.
Despite his preference for more traditional forms of documentation, the Vatican has been in favour of communicating through new technologies for some time, in formally gave its blessing to spreading “the voice of The Divine Word” on through the Internet, CDs, iPods, etc in 2008. The Pope even told priests to start blogging back in 2010.
Showing some Internet-savviness, the Pope’s 2011 World Communications Day message denounced fake online identities and, even, linkbaiting:
“Entering cyberspace can be a sign of an authentic search for personal encounters with others, provided that attention is paid to avoiding dangers such as enclosing oneself in a sort of parallel existence, or excessive exposure to the virtual world.
In the search for sharing, for “friends”, there is the challenge to be authentic and faithful, and not give in to the illusion of constructing an artificial public profile for oneself.”
Rev. Lombardi stopped short of providing details of the Pope’s handle and other information, but he did suggest that a launch could come before the end of the year.
Joining Twitter is all good but the Pope would do well to consider Google+ too. Though less mainstream than Twitter, the Google service’s potential to engage has been tapped by other religious figures; Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama held a Hangout last October, for example.
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