The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Talkers

December 12, 2012

Pope hits 1 million followers on Twitter

(Continued)

"These are already all over the Internet, in newspapers, in so many forms of expression," the Rev. Antonio Spadaro, editor of the Jesuit magazine "Civilta Cattolica," told Vatican Radio this week. "They form part of ordinary communication."

Benedict actually sent his first tweet over a year ago, using a generic Vatican account to launch the Holy See's news information portal. Someone in his name tweeted daily during Lent, part of the Vatican's efforts to increase the church presence in social media.

A personal Twitter account for Benedict has been the subject of speculation ever since the Vatican's senior communications official said in February the idea was gaining traction.

Vatican officials have acknowledged the pope won't actually type the messages and that someone in the Vatican's secretariat of state will write them on his behalf. And so it happened on Wednesday: Benedict just tapped the screen on the tablet to send the inaugural tweet.

But about an hour later, a Vatican official tweeted a question that had been sent to the pope in the long run-up to the launch, asking his advice about how to be more faithful in daily life. "By speaking with Jesus in prayer, listening to what he tells you in the Gospel and looking for him in those in need," the responding tweet read.

Later still, a third tweet, responding to a question about how faith can be lived in a world without hope: "We can be certain that a believer is never alone. God is the solid rock upon which we build our lives and his love is always faithful," it said.

The Vatican has insisted that the words are Benedict's alone, culled from his speeches, homilies or catechism lessons.

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