As part of a campaign to increase its social media footprint, the Vatican has created a Twitter account for the Holy Father himself. Although currently active, the pope's profile, @pontifex, will not go live until December 12. Users everywhere can pose questions to the spiritual leader by including #askpontifex in their tweets, and communication officials promise that Benedict himself will respond to a selected few on the launch day. Obviously, those same officials will be handling the bulk of the papal tweeting themselves—under the pope's supervision.
Before you ask, His Holiness will probably not be favoriting your latest Instagram shot any time soon. Faith and spirituality are the key areas the account will address, drawing on Benedict's own theological work as well as Catholic doctrine. The hope is to reach a younger, more tech-savvy generation with the Church's message—to find a modern-day evangelism, as explained in the pope's message on World Communications Day.
But Twitter giveth, and Twitter can taketh away. The responses to @pontifex have so far been everything from the scathingly critical to the banal (see below). Though spiritual in principle, this new online presence has very little chance of avoiding the many heated social issues the Vatican has blundered into over the past decade—same-sex marriage topping that list. After all, Benedict did say during this year's State of the World address that same-sex marriages would endanger "the future of humanity itself."
Want to grill the pope on gay rights? Tag @outmagazine when you #askpontifex your question.
Bravo's Andy Cohen:
UK journalist (and conversion therapy opponent) Patrick Strudwick:
And, of course, from David Javerbaum's Tweet of God profile: