Pope's followers don't hold back on asking him questions on Twitter


The arrival of Pope Benedict XVI in the world of social networking, via the Twitter handle of @pontifex, has not exactly gone unnoticed. Even though the pontiff has yet to offer a “tweet”, his forthcoming presence on Twitter had attracted more than half a million “followers” by yesterday afternoon, alongside plenty of not-always-polite comment.

When presenting the initiative in the Vatican on Monday, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications had explained that the pope’s Twitter channel would be launched “with a formal question-and-answer format” concerning faith and belief. In other words, send your questions to #askpontifex and wait for his response, scheduled for December 12th.

The problem, of course, is that on Twitter yesterday, people were asking questions that varied from the offensive to the controversial to the whimsical.

Typical were questions such as: “Hi Pope. You know how the clergy are our line of communication with God? When priests shag kids, does God feel it? Is he into it?” or “I bet $10 that Pope@Pontifex will tweet on Christmas Eve, and it won’t be an apology for helping covering up child rape.”

Other tweeters suggested that the pope might sell all the Vatican’s gold in order to feed hungry children while more than one person suggested that the question-and-answer format failed to understand that “engagement is a two-way process”.

There was also plenty of humour, with one tweeter arguing that thus far the pope has responded to his followers “as many times as god”. Others invited him around for bacon and spinach omelettes for breakfast.

For the time being, the Holy See is neither concerned nor surprised by intemperate comments, with senior figures pointing out that Benedict is on Twitter to stay.