Pope to begin tweeting regularly in time for Christmas

The Pope is due to start using his own personal Twitter account within the next few days in time for Christmas.
Pope Benedict XVI gestures as he leaves at the end of a consistory mass in St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican

He has just completed a weighty, three volume tome on the life of Christ, but the Pope is about to embrace a rather pithier means of communication – Twitter.

Benedict XVI, who has embraced new media during his seven-year papacy, believes he can squeeze the wisdom of the Gospels into tweets of no more than 140 characters without dumbing down the word of God.

The 85-year-old pontiff is due to start tweeting regularly within the next few days, in time for Christmas.

The initiative was announced in the Vatican's official newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, in an article titled "How to speak of God in 140 characters".

"Pope Benedict has written that even a very few words can communicate great messages," the newspaper said.
"The initiative was inspired by the Pope's desire to use every opportunity offered by new technology to communicate," Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, the president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communication, told the paper.

The Vatican is trying to reach out to an increasingly internet-savvy audience and has already established a presence on YouTube and Facebook.

It will not be the first time the Pope has tweeted – in June 2011 he launched a new Vatican website,, which brings together radio, television and online news material, with a tweet sent from an iPad.

But he is about to start becoming a regular tweeter, crunching down the essence of his official addresses, homilies and theological musings into truncated form.

Benedict is unlikely to tap out the tweets with his own fingers, but he will have close control over what exactly is tweeted in his name.

There was no danger of dumbing down Christ's message or the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, officials said.

"One can express profound thoughts as long as one is aware of one's inner soul," Father Antonio Spadaro, the editor of the Jesuit journal La Civilta' Cattolica, told Vatican Radio.

Earlier this year Monsignor Paul Tighe, from the same pontifical council, said that many of the themes contained in the Bible were "readily rendered in just 140 characters".

"To those who say it's dumbing down, no, this is entry level, to provoke people's interest and to invite them then to follow the message and read the text," he said.

"Many of the key gospel ideas are readily rendered in 140 characters – this is not the only way the Church speaks but it's an avenue that is open to us and it's pithy and succinct."