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Pope to stay away from Twitter no more

  Pontiff to start tweeting from December 12

REUTERS

VATICAN CITY: The secret’s out. Pope Benedict’s new handle on Twitter will be @pontifex, beating out other contenders that had been considered to showcase the thoughts of one of the world’s most visible leaders.

Benedict already has 1.2 billion “followers” in the standard sense of the word but next week he will have another type when he enters what for any 85-year old is the brave new world of Twitter.

The Vatican said today that the pope will start tweeting on December 12. “The handle is a good one. It means ‘pope’ and it also means ‘bridge builder’,” said Greg Burke, senior media adviser to the Vatican.

Among the other handles that Vatican officials had reportedly considered was @BenedictusPPXVI, but they opted for something that was linked to the office of the papacy. But don’t expect tweets about how the pope is feeling or which soccer team he is praying to win a derby. The papal tweets will be spiritual, Burke told a news conference, and the pope will tweet when and how often he wants.

The first papal tweets will be answers to questions sent to #askpontifex.

The tweets will be going out in Spanish, English, Italian, Portuguese, German, Polish, Arabic and French. Other languages will be added in the future.

Primarily the tweets will come from the contents of his weekly general audience, Sunday blessings and homilies on major Church holidays.

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