According to new revelations about the pope’s entrance into social media several years ago, the papal Twitter account was bombarded with so much abuse and vulgarity shortly after it opened that the Vatican considered shutting it down.
The New Daily is reporting that Archbishop Claudio Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, revealed the shocking reaction to the first tweet sent by Pope Benedict XVI.
“At the beginning we were receiving negative, offensive and vulgar tweets,” Archbishop Celli told AAP.
The Archbishop admitted that they were surprised by the response and were very unhappy about it.
“People were advising us, inside and outside the church, not to expose the Pope to such vulgarity and to close the Twitter channel,” he said.
Archbishop Celli said he and his staff reflected deeply on whether or not to abandon the account, but felt that it was too important that the Church use the language of today to reach souls. This meant the account had to stay open.
Gradually, some of the negativity waned and has become largely positive since Francis assumed the Chair of Peter.
He also confessed that the only tweet ever sent by a pope was the first one, and Pope Benedict had to be shown what key to press in order to launch it. Otherwise, a technician transmits the tweets after the pope has approved them.
For practical reasons, the pope does not engage in Twitter conversations. There are almost seven million followers of @pontifex and each tweet can be retweeted between 60 and 200 million times.
Because there are only three people in the Holy See’s office for social communications, the faithful should not expect too much interactivity, he said.
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