Recently appointed Pope Francis however, is determined to use technology to reach his followers, even if it’s only in 140 characters or less. Literally, he’s reaching out to some 2.7 million of his followers, using Twitter. The social media site isn’t exactly the first place you’d expect to go to get closer to the Vatican leader, but @Pontifex has actually become quite a legitimate Twitter presence.
The Catholic Church as a whole hasn’t exactly been killing it in terms of public relations in recent years. Many look at it as a dated, out of touch organization whose inability to evolve has caused it to lose touch with many of its younger supporters.
The coolest people can often be distinguished by the minimal company they keep. From the girl in your high school that would never even look at you, to Twitter’s biggest names, the most revered are usually known by far more people than they know themselves. Case in point, Pope Francis boasts nearly 2.7 million followers on Twitter, and he only follows 8 accounts. Oh and by the way, the 8 accounts he follows are all just him too, just in 8 different languages.
Twitter is undeniably a great place to turn for short form amusement. You can follow your favorite bands for the most up to date announcements on upcoming tours, albums or secret appearances. You can follow your favorite comedians to see some of entertainment’s greatest minds squeeze a truly sick joke into a truly small space. Or you can follow the Pope and get straight up inspired. Not many Twitter accounts can boast doling out words of wisdom on a daily basis, but if you like to get your biblical fix one sentence at a time, @Pontifex is the guy for you.
There aren’t many ways for the average person to directly reach out to the world’s most well known figures, but Twitter offers just that. Now, that isn’t to say that Pope Francis is necessarily checking to see who’s tweeting at him on a regular basis, but it’s kind of cool to know he might randomly see the questions or pontifications you have to offer. And who knows, he might even respond to your inquiry of: “Hey @Pontifex, which season of the Simpsons would you say was the strongest?”
Unlike many of the other popular social networking sites, Twitter can offer some genuine insight into the mood and mind of the person you’re following. The Pope’s Facebook will, more than anything, just get you a bunch of invites to stuff at the Vatican that you’ll say “maybe” to even though you know you’re definitely not going to make it. And his Instagram will just get you bombarded with pictures of unleavened bread and giant hats. Twitter though, is the place to go for an authentic look into what the Pope is actually feeling or thinking at a given moment.
According to the Vatican, simply following the Pope on Twitter can reduce the amount of time you’ll eventually spend in purgatory. In the Catholic religion, after you die but before going to Heaven, you must spend time in purgatory making right all of the things you did wrong. But now, the Vatican says you’ll spend less time atoning for your sins if you’re reading his Holiness’ tweets on the regular. Essentially, they’re offering afterlife time off for good behavior.