Pope Benedict XVI, aka @Pontifex, following Vatican tradition

So, Pope Benedict XVI is down with tweeting and who really could be surprised?

Being Pope is a huge marketing job; and Benedict’s predecessors, going back to St. Peter, have worked hard on reaching the masses by whatever means available.

As the New York Times pointed out:

“The Catholic Church may be one of the slowest-changing institutions in the world, but when it comes to communicating with the faithful, it has been an early adopter. In 1896, Pope Leo XIII became the first pope to appear on film. In 1931, Vatican Radio was founded, and Pope Pius XI was the first pope to make a radio broadcast. In 1949, Pope Pius XII was the first to appear on television.

In 2009, a Vatican Web site, www.pope2you.net, went live, offering an application called “The pope meets you on Facebook,” and another that allows readers to upload the pope’s speeches and messages to their smartphones. In 2011, the Vatican started its own news Web site, News.va.”

Me? I like it that the pontiff is rocking it old school, going with the Latin @Pontifex, which apparently carries the connotation of the pope as “bridge builder.” 

The fact is, all kinds of religious leaders have found the blessedness of Twitter. Elizabeth Drescher, at Santa Clara University, wrote a whole book, “Tweet if You Heart Jesus: Practicing Church in the Digital Reformation,” about the trend of tweeting in a godly manner.

Then there is the Digital Jesuit, whom I just wrote about. I’m thinking the Pope is probably going to dial it back a little from where the Rev. Robert Ballecer is on social networks.

In fact, like  many celebrities, Pope Benedict is going to have aides do his tweeting for him, but the Vatican has made plain that the words will be the Pope’s (sometimes speeches etc.) and that his Holiness will approve the tweets.

You’ve got to wonder how a guy who grapples with the big ontological questions can boil his thoughts down to 140 characters. Then again, think how many more people would go to church if priests and preachers could keep their sermons to that magic number.

We’ll have to wait until Dec. 12 to find out. That’s when the Pope’s twitter feed l goes live.

Meantime, there is fun to be had. Speculation is already staring about whether Il Papa will outshine Lady Gaga.

“The Pope’s going to be enormous,” Ian Maude, of Enders Analysis tells the Telegraph, “but I’m not sure he’s quite going to get to Lady Gaga levels.”

But just think of his Klout score.

Anyway, the twittersphere is already hard at work putting questions out there for the 85-year-old Benedict to answer once he gets rolling. That’s the idea, but some are having more fun with it than others.

Uproxx has pulled together 31 of the funniest. (Warning: they’re arranged in one of those slide shows meant to drive traffic and drive you crazy.)

“Can God create a McRib so elusive that even He can’t bring it back,” is one among many.

I won’t spoil the rest.

Click on.

(Photo: Reuters/Observatore Romano)

 

Mike Cassidy Mike Cassidy (173 Posts)

I write about the culture of Silicon Valley for the San Jose Mercury News.