The mainstream media are all a-Twitter over the decision by Pope Benedict XVI to Vati-tweet the faithful. From Tuesday’s New York Times:
VATICAN CITY — Now trending on Twitter: Pope Benedict XVI.
On Monday, the Vatican announced that the 85-year-old pontiff would begin posting messages on Twitter next week under the handle@pontifex, a term for the pope that means “bridge builder” in Latin. Within hours, he had more than 250,000 followers.
The hardworking staff jumped on the bandwagon midday yesterday, and discovered that the number of followers had already risen to 409,922. By the time we actually clocked in (a full 10 seconds later) 180 additional followers had enlisted.
Which made us Number 410,102.
[Full Cathaholic disclosure: We had the laughingly named Sisters of Charity for eight years and the Jesuits (great teachers/hell on Saturday night) for eight years, then recuperated for eight years (see The Redemption Unit) during which we lapsed like the average magazine subscriber.]
Of course, Tweetedict XVI will largely be a Papal Tiger, as the Times piece notes:
Aides will write Benedict’s posts, but the pope himself will “engage and approve” the content. The pope will post messages however often he feels like it.
“The pope is not the kind of person like the rest of us who in a meeting or a lunch is looking at their BlackBerrys to see if any messages have come in,” Mr. Burke said. “He is not walking around with an iPad, but all the pope’s tweets are the pope’s words.”
But don’t be thinking the Pope-a-tweets are infallible:
Msgr. Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications . . . said they would be part of the church Magisterium, or collective teaching, but should be considered “pearls of wisdom,” not exactly doctrine.
“In any case, it’s a papal teaching,” Monsignor Celli said. “The message is just entrusted to a new technology.”
A new technology that often has technical glitches like this one (via Advertising Age):
The Pope’s Twitter Feed Runneth Over for Pontiflex
A Brooklyn startup is getting a lot of Twitter traffic today, thanks to Pope Benedict XVI.
The Papal Twitter account launched Monday with the handle @Pontifex, so named for a Latin word referencing a member of the ancient priests of Rome. It is also very similar to @Pontiflex, the handle for Pontiflex, a mobile advertising platform and No. 16 on this week’s Crain’s list of Best Places to Work in New York City.
Since early Monday morning, the company has gotten between 50 and 75 new followers each hour and hundreds of tweets from Twitter users who have accidentally inserted a letter “L” into what they thought was the Pope’s handle, according to Crain’s New York Business.
Let us prey, eh?