Pope Benedict XVI will start tweeting in six languages from his own personal handle (@Pontifex) on Dec. 12. While not a single message has been sent from his Twitter account yet, the head of the Catholic Church has sparked quite the buzz following the announcement that he will be using the social media platform. Not surprisingly, along with signs of support have also come hateful messages that Twitchy has dubbed “shameful.”
The Vatican said Monday the pope will be using a question and answer format in his first Tweet, focusing on answering questions about faith — in 140 characters (or less). Before 8 a.m., his account already had nearly 15,000 followers. Just as quickly as supporters anxiously followed the pope, so did detractors voice their opposition.
“Sweet, Pope Benedict is getting a Twitter account. Everyone get your best bile and hate ready to chuck his way!,” one user wrote.
“Hey Pope, maybe you can start by apologising to everyone,” added another.
Comedian Roseanne Barr also decided to get in on the pope-bashing, writing, “The pope is just another man in a dress telling women what to do.” Below, see some of the other “hate tweets,” as captured by Twitchy (caution: language):
Of course, there were also signs of support for the Catholic leader. But these negative messages show a level of disrespect that is, on many levels, startling.
The pope sent his first tweet last year from a Vatican account to launch the Holy See’s news information portal. The Vatican’s communications adviser Greg Burke told a press conference that the Twitter handle @Pontifex was chosen for the pope’s personal account because it not only means pope in Latin, but also bridge-builder, suggesting unity.
How often will the pope tweet? Burke said, “as often as he wants.” The Vatican has been increasing its presence in social media to try to spread the faith, particularly among the young.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.