Benedict XVI Sends Out Inaugural Tweet

More Than 700,000 Already 'Following' Pontiff

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By Junno Arocho

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 12, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI sent out his first tweets today on Twitter. The Twitter account, @pontifex, which was announced Dec. 3 by the Holy See Press Office, is being used as a way for the Holy Father to communicate with the faithful and answer their questions on faith.

The Pope's first tweet, sent via iPad immediately after his weekly General Audience, thanked followers and imparted his blessing. "Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart," the tweet stated.

According to a communique from the Holy See Press Office, the Holy Father was assisted in sending out the tweet by Thaddeus Jones, a representative of the Pontifical Council for Social Communication, and Claire Díaz-Ortiz, director of Social Innovation for Twitter.  Also present were two students from the University of Villanova who currently work at the Pontifical Council for Social Communication, Mika Rabb and Andrew Jadick, as well as Mexican journalist Katia Lopez-Hodoyan.

The first papal tweet was sent out in various languages from their respective papal Twitter accounts.

In two hours, the first papal message was re-tweeted, or shared by followers, over 27, 000 times. Currently, Benedict XVI has well over 700,000 followers since the account was opened a little over a week ago.

Shortly after his first tweet, Pope Benedict sent out a second tweet, relaying one of thousands of questions sent by his Twitter followers regarding the Year of Faith. "How can we celebrate the Year of Faith better in our daily lives?" was the question that was posed.

Responding to the question in a third tweet, the Holy Father stated: "By speaking with Jesus in prayer, listening to what he tells you in the Gospel and looking for him in those in need."

In the press conference regarding Pope Benedict's Twitter account last week, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communication, stated that the 140 character limit on tweet was not a problem, but that the main concern was to give a profound human expression to the words that are chosen.

The Holy Father's Twitter account, he said, would allow the Pontiff the opportunity to express his "pearls of wisdom." The Holy See Press Office said that Pope Benedict XVI is expected to answer two more questions later today regarding the Year of Faith.

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To see the Pope's Twitter profile, go to: https://twitter.com/Pontifex