Last Wednesday, a plume of white smoke emerged in Vatican City, signaling that the papal conclave had chosen a new leader for the Catholic Church.
Shortly after, Argentinian cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio addressed the crowd as Pope Francis, the 266th pontiff of the church. At that time, the previously hibernating @Pontifex Twitter account sent out a simple tweet: HABEMUS PAPAM FRANCISCUM – roughly translating to “we have Pope Francis.”
A few days later, Pope Francis has sent out his first tweet.
The new Pope’s first official tweet was simple, asking his followers to continue to pray for him and thanking them for their support:
Dear friends, I thank you from my heart and I ask you to continue to pray for me.Pope Francis.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) March 17, 2013
The @Pontifex Twitter account was created late last year as the official Twitter account of the papacy, then held by Pope Benedict. Upon his resignation, the account went “sede vacante,” and all of Bendict’s 39 tweets were archived on Vatican website.
At the time, the Vatican made it clear that the Twitter account was not being shut down, only deactivated temporarily as the new pope was chosen. They said that the decision to continue to tweet or not would rest solely with the new pope.
“Obviously we leave all decisions to the new man. But we would hope that he might continue to use @pontifex, which would maintain continuity,” said Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications Paul Tighe.
And it looks like Pope Francis has decided to continue the social media outreach.
As of the writing of this article, the @Pontifex account has just topped 2 million followers.