Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | December 13, 2012

The Tweeting Pope

Pope TweetsYesterday was a historic day, of sorts. Pope Benedict XVI sent out his first Tweet. The pontiff has a personal Twitter account and will use it to send out messages of inspiration and to answer questions using only the 140-characters-or-less text limits. He began his new Twitter adventure with a simple blessing: Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart. As of this writing, the Pope already has about one-million Twitter followers and will probably have tons more in the coming days.

The Pope has also said that he will answer questions from both seekers and the faithful. Yesterday he answered the first question, one from among thousands submitted by his Twitter followers. Someone from America asked, “How can we celebrate the Year of Faith better in our daily lives?” The Year of Faith (Oct. 2012—Nov. 2013) is an initiative by the Catholic church designed to draw Catholics into a deeper walk with Jesus Christ and a call to renew their commitment to the church. Although I am not Catholic, I do like the Pope’s answer because it is good advice for any Christ-follower. He Tweeted this reply: By speaking with Jesus in prayer, listening to what He tells you in the Gospel and looking for Him in those in need.

Matt Archbold, a writer for the National Catholic Register, had a bit of fun with the Pope’s new Twitter venture. In the Washington Post’s “On Faith” section, Archbold wrote: “If you don’t retweet the pope, is that a sin of omission? … If you get blocked by the pope, is that a 21st century form of excommunication? Are we really about to see the birth of the excommunitweet?” Archbold added that “Jesus may have been the greatest tweeter ever” because all of the Beatitudes are 140-characters or less. Interesting observation. I am inclined to agree. When you think about it, Jesus dispensed lots of wisdom in memorable ways, including in brief and though-provoking ways.

A friend recently told me that we are living in days when we must give God more than our time, talents, and treasure. “We must also give Him our technology,” he added. Technology has opened the doors for the good news to reach more people more quickly than ever before. Catholic blogger Rocco Palmo said that instead of Catholic bishops being issued a ring, a tall hat, and a shepherd’s crook when they are ordained, they should get a ring, a hat, and a smartphone. “You have to be in the places where you can reach people and they can reach you,” he said. A smartphone can certainly help the clergy to multiply their presence and influence.

I admire the Pope for finding a new way to connect with his flock but also for making himself more accessible to his flock. If a shepherd is not easily and readily accessible to his sheep, then what kind of shepherd is he? Sometimes it seems like half the people on the planet have my cell number and e-mail address. But, that’s ok. It’s all a part of shepherding and I would rather err on the side of being accessible. So, kudos to Pope Benedict XVI for his efforts to utilize technology to reach out to his flock and to answer questions posed by the global digital community. That is an example that all good shepherds should follow.


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