Vatican City, Feb 26, 2013 / 10:43 am
The Vatican has dispelled claims that Pope Benedict XVI's "Pontifex" Twitter account will be shut down permanently, clarifying that it "will be available for use by the next Pope as he may wish."
Monsignor Paul Tighe, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, said Feb. 23 the Twitter account was created for the Pope's "exclusive use."
In a statement published by Vatican Radio, he said the account will be inactive during the interim "sede vacante" period between the Feb. 28 resignation of Pope Benedict and the election of a new Pope.
Many media outlets misinterpreted an earlier account from Vatican Radio and reported that the Vatican would be shutting down its ten-week-old effort on the social media site.
Since the Pope launched his first Twitter accounts in early December, he has accumulated hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers. His English-language account alone has nearly 1.6 million followers.
Father Paolo Padrini, a collaborator of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, told CNA last month that the Pope's presence on social media is a form of evangelizing.
"It's a great joy to see the Pope's words being disseminated, a joy that is held by all believers."
The Pope has sent out tweets in nine languages, including Latin. He has sent out messages of Christian reflection and encouragement while not exceeding Twitter's 140-character limit,
He sent a special message of solidarity to those attending pro-life marches in the U.S.
The Pope's most recent Tweet of Feb. 24 alluded to his upcoming resignation and the selection of his successor.
"In these momentous days, I ask you to pray for me and for the Church, trusting as always in divine Providence," he said.