Vatican defends pope’s Twitter account despite attacks
VATICAN CITY (RNS) The Vatican on Thursday (Jan. 24) defended the pope’s choice to open a Twitter account even if it exposes him to insults and online abuse.
“Twitter is a secular reality … but we prefer to be present rather than stay away from something just to avoid a risk,” said Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, head of the Vatican’s department for social communications, during the launch of the annual papal message for World Communications Day.Pope Benedict XVI leaves Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican Dec. 24. RNS photo by Paul Haring/Catholic News Service
Pope Benedict XVI opened his Twitter handle @Pontifex
on Dec. 3. It has since gathered more than 2.5 million followers in nine languages, including Latin.
But the 85-year old pontiff has found himself on the receiving end of an almost endless stream of messages on the social network – some prayerful, some humorous and some outright offensive.
“Is it true that you dress Prada just like the devil?” asked an Italian Twitter user after the launch of the papal account.
Many Twitter users aggressively question the pontiff’s record on child sexual abuse, his position on homosexuality or his brief enrollment in a militia unit during his youth in Nazi Germany.
Celli said people at the Vatican were not surprised by these tweets. “When he joined the social network, we knew there would be attacks and irony,” he said.Link