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Leslie Walker

Holy Father, Holy @Pontifex

By December 3, 2012

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Pope Benedict XVI has a new Twitter account under the handle @Pontifex and will start tweeting from it on Dec. 12, the Vatican announced at a press conference today.

Pope on Twitter
Pope's New Twitter Profile

Reuters reported that Vatican officials announced the Pope's first personal tweets will be in response to questions that people tweet to the hashtag, #askpontifex.

The Vatican's radio program noted that Twitter helped the Pope set up his new account. The Vatican also released audio of theannouncement.

Pope Benedict will personally write and send the first tweet. After that, his aides will do most of the tweeting on his behalf but the pope will personally approve messages before they get sent, Reuters reported.

The Vatican already has a Twitter account which it opened in 2011, but that one (@news_va_en) has only 109,500 followers. The Vatican sent a tweet from that account announcing the Pope's new Twitter this morning: "Pope Benedict to launch new Twitter account §RV http://rv.va/22dRej "

It will be interesting to see if a more personal papal tweeting strategy attracts more followers. Quite possibly this announcement is little more than a rebranding exercise to move the Pope's tweets from an awkward handle to the more memorable, marketing-friendly @Pontifex.

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