Church launches Lenten Twitter campaignSaturday, March 3rd, 2012
The number of people following the Pope via Twitter has jumped dramatically since the beginning of Lent. On February 23, his account had 2,500 subscribers, but days later it rose to 12,500 and it is still rising.
Irish priest, Mgr Paul Tighe, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, said the jump had been, “quite incredible.”
“And not just the numbers who are now following the Pope’s Tweets but also the number who are then re-Tweeting his message to others. It’s great.”
This Lent for the first time, the Vatican is tweeting part of the Pope’s message each day.
Twitter is an online social networking site that enables users to send and read text-based posts of up to 140 characters. Anyone can sign up to follow the Pope, whose messages are tweeted in English, Italian, Spanish, German and French, via @Pope2YouVatican.
Monsignor Paul Tighe said that many of the themes contained in the Bible are "readily rendered in just 140 characters. To those who say it's dumbing down, no, this is entry level, to provoke people's interest and to invite them then to follow the message and read the text," he told Vatican Radio.
"Many of the key gospel ideas are readily rendered in 140 characters. This is not the only way the Church speaks but it's an avenue that is open to us and it's pithy, succinct and it's one I think that we're quite good at,” he added.
The Lenten Twitter campaign is the latest attempt by the Vatican to make the most of social communications. In 2009, the Pope launched his own YouTube channel and then a year later encouraged priests around the world to go out and blog and use social media sites to speak to congregants.
In June 2011, the social communications council also unveiled an online news service, www.news.va, which Pope Benedict launched with a Tweet. The site now has over 10,000 people using it every day.
The Pope is not expected to personally write every message, but he will authorise them before they are sent out by Vatican aides.
"Naturally he will approve every message," said Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, the president of the Pontifical Council.
by Susan Gately