Pope Benedict's new handle on the social network will be @pontifex, beating other contenders that had been considered to showcase the thoughts of one of the world's most visible leaders. The Pope already has 1.2 billion followers in the standard sense of the word, but next week he will be able to amass another type when he enters the brave new world of Twitter.
The Vatican said yesterday the Pope will start tweeting on December 12.
"The handle is a good one. It means 'Pope' and it also means 'bridge builder'," said a Vatican spokesman.
Among the other handles Vatican officials had reportedly considered was @BenedictusPPXVI, but they opted for something linked to the office of the papacy.
The papal tweets will be spiritual, the Vatican said.
And even though Benedict is not the kind of person who walks around with a Blackberry or iPad, the spokesman said "all the Pope's tweets are the Pope's words. Nobody is going to be putting words into his mouth."
The first papal tweets will be answers to questions sent to #askpontifex, and the tweets will be going out in Spanish, English, Italian, Portuguese, German, Polish, Arabic and French. Other languages will be added in the future.