Rumor: Pope's Twitter account to shut down this week

Retirement brings many things to a pope —among them, the lack of an official Twitter account

CONFIRMED: The official papal Twitter account will shut down when Pope Benedict XVI retires

The effect of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation will perhaps be felt first by his more than 2 million Twitter followers. That’s because the pope’s official Twitter account, @pontifex, will go dark on Feb. 28, once the Catholic Church’s leader officially steps down to tend to his ailing health.

Twitter quitter

Citing Vatican Radio, CNN reports that come 8 p.m. local time on Thursday, the pope will simultaneously leave office and the Twitter account will be eliminated. "It seems unimaginable that one could continue to use a communication tool so popular and powerful during the 'sede vacante' period," Vatican Radio reportedly said, referring to the Latin name for the time in which the pope’s position is vacant.

Msgr. Paul Tighe, under-secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications issued the following statement: "The Twitter account @pontifex was created for the exclusive use of the Pope."

See a photo of the pope tweeting

Future tweets unknown

Questions remain over what will happen to the papal Twitter account once a new pope is elected by the church’s cardinals — a process that could begin in early March. But considering the pope attracted more than 2 million followers using a mere 36 tweets, it seems unlikely that the church will abandon Twitter as a communications tool.

Tighe also said that "@pontifex will be available for use by the next Pope as he may wish," according to Vatican Radio.

Full coverage of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation

 

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