3-December-2012 -- Vatican Information Service |

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The Pope On Twitter: Voice Of Unity And Leadership For The Church

Vatican City, 3 December 2012 (VIS) - A press conference was held this morning in the Holy See Press Office to explain the presence of the Pope on Twitter and to provide additional information on the use of the new media in the Vatican.

The conference was presented by Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Msgr. Paul Tighe, secretary of the same dicastery, Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, Vatican Radio and the Vatican Television Centre, Professor Gian Maria Vian, editor of 'L'Osservatore Romano' and Greg Burke, media advisor to the Secretariat of State. Claire Diaz-Ortiz, Twitter's director of Social Innovation, was also present.

Given below are extracts from the English-language Note explaining the presence of the Holy Father on Twitter:

"The Pope's presence on Twitter is a concrete expression of his conviction that the Church must be present in the digital arena. ... The Pope's presence on Twitter can be seen as the 'tip of the iceberg' that is the Church's presence in the world of new media. The Church is already richly present in this environment - there exist a whole range of initiatives from the official websites of various institutions and communities to the personal sites, blogs and micro-blogs of public church figures and of individual believers. The Pope's presence on Twitter is ultimately an endorsement of the efforts of these 'early adapters' to ensure that the Good News of Jesus Christ and the teaching of his Church is permeating the forum of exchange and dialogue that is being created by social media. His presence is intended to be an encouragement to all Church institutions and people of faith to be attentive to develop an appropriate profile for themselves and their convictions in the 'digital continent'. The Pope's tweets will be available to believers and non-believers to share, discuss and to encourage dialogue. It is hoped that the Pope's short messages, and the fuller messages that they seek to encapsulate, will give rise to questions for people from different countries, languages and cultures".

"Part of the challenge for the Church in the area of new media is to establish a networked or capillary presence that can effectively engage the debates, discussions and dialogues that are facilitated by social media and that invite direct, personal and timely responses of a type that are not so easily achieved by centralized institutions. Moreover, such a networked or capillary structure reflects the truth of the Church as a community of communities which is alive both universally and locally. The Pope's presence on Twitter will represent his voice as a voice of unity and leadership for the Church but it will also be a powerful invitation to all believers to express their 'voices', to engage their 'followers' and 'friends' and to share with them the hope of the Gospel that speaks of God's unconditional love for all men and women".

"In addition to the direct engagement with the questions, debates and discussions of people that is facilitated by new media, the Church recognizes the importance of new media as an environment that allows to teach the truth that the Lord has passed to His Church, to listen to others, to learn about their cares and concerns, to understand who they are and for what they are searching. ... It is for this reason that it has been decided to launch the Pope's Twitter channel with a formal question and answer format. This launch is also an indication of the importance that the Church gives to listening and is a warranty of its ongoing attentiveness to the conversations, commentaries and trends that express so spontaneously and insistently the preoccupations and hopes of people".

The first tweets from the Pope's handle on Twitter will be given on 12 December, Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Initially tweets will be published with the Wednesday general audiences, although they may subsequently become more frequent. The first tweets, on 12 December, will respond to questions put to the Pope on matters of faith. The public can send questions between now and 12 December in the languages listed below. The official Papal handle is @pontifex.

In addition to English, tweets will also be published in the following languages:

Spanish @pontifex_es Italian @pontifex_it Portuguese @pontifex_pt German @pontifex_de Polish @pontifex_pl Arabic @pontifex_ar French @pontifex_fr

Other languages may be added in the future. Further information can be obtained at http://blog.twitter.com/

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