Pope Benedict to quit Twitter and say goodbye to 1.5 million followers

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    Pope Benedict Twitter

    Pope Benedict XVI will leave Twitter following his resignation as pope. (AFP Photo / Alberto Pizzoli)

    (VATICAN CITY-AFP) — Pope Benedict XVI’s official Twitter account, which has more than two million followers in nine languages, will close next week when he leaves office, Vatican Radio said Friday.

    After a high-profile launch on December 12 under the name @pontifex, the pontiff’s online musings quickly attracted over 1.5 million followers in English. Around a million other users of the site subscribe to his feeds in Italian, Spanish, German, French, Portuguese, Polish, Arab and even Latin and a Chinese account had been planned.

    “It seemed unimaginable one could continue to use a communication tool that is so popular and powerful during the Sede Vacante (Vacant Seat) period,” Vatican Radio said.

    The leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics is expected to post his final tweet on February 27, when he will bid a farewell to ordinary Catholics at a general audience in St Peter’s Square.

    Pope Benedict’s Twitter account to be closed Feb. 28

    The Twitter account will then be closed on February 28 when Benedict formally steps down as pope, according to Vatican Radio.

    In his most recent tweet on Feb. 24, Pope Benedict asks his followers for their prayers.

    No clear favorite has emerged yet to succeed Pope Benedict but several cardinals tipped as possible candidates, including American Timothy Dolan, Odilo Scherer from Brazil and Gianfranco Ravasi and Angelo Scola from Italy, are active Twitter users within the Church.

    Pope Benedict’s bold move to become the first pope to join the Twittersphere sparked heated debate at the Vatican and within the Church. Supporters said it was a useful way to reach a younger generation, but some observers were dismayed to see that his pious posts invited a stream of mockery.

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    Source: AFP

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