Pope Follows Himself in Twitter Echo Chamber
Just in time for the Christmas holiday, Vatican Radio announced that Pope Benedict XVI will be launching a new digital ministry (of sorts) through a Twitter feed with the handle @Pontifex. With the encouragement of Twitter director of social innovation, Claire Diaz Ortiz, Il Papa will extend this engagement into digital space, broadcasting 140-character messages of Church teaching and spiritual encouragement to a followership that had grown to more than 200,000 on the morning of the announcement. Within 24 hours, the followership had more than doubled.
Social networking platforms provide plentiful space to broadcast religious messages to self-selecting and, therefore, presumably more attentive audiences. But this raises many nettlesome questions, not least among them being whether new media participation by well-known religious leaders is ministry or marketing.