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Pope to launch Twitter account by answering questions on faith

ABP. CLAUDIO MARIA CELLI

Prefect, Pontifical Council of Social Communications

"I refer to this Tweets as sparks for truth, or pills of wisdom. My hope is that this tweet will help many men and women find their way.�

The Vatican choose the social networking site Twitter because it is considered a free exchange of ideas that many young people use, and because of its relative ease at communicating with other users. 

The Pope will decide how often he will tweet, and what to tweet about. They will be sent out in eight different languages, including Arabic.

For Twitter, it could prove a big boost. The Dalai Lama has over 5 million followers, and numerous Catholic bishops and cardinals also have large followings.

CLAIRE DIAZ-ORTIZ

Director of Social Innovation, Twitter

"He is a person that cannot reach every single person that wants to reach out to him. But on Twitter, he can do that much more easily. I think this symbolic step, the first tweet, will be an answer to a question from one of his followers.�

The Vatican's media adviser, Greg Burke, says that someone as visible as Benedict XVI must be on Twitter. And not necessarily to compete with other public figures.

GREG BURKE

Media Adviser (Vatican City)

"It's a challenge but on the other hand a lot of young people are looking to.. You know, that's one of the things the Pope talks about. He says, you wanna find real joy, its Jesus Christ, its not in wealth its not in technology. And I think often time that's the message you're gonna get. I told somebody the pope is not looking for a big number of followers on Twitter, the Pope is looking for people want to follow Jesus Christ.�

Despite not having tweeted a single word yet, the Pope has gathered over 100,000 followers within a matter of hours, and quickly became the eight most talked about topic on the social site. Users have until December 12 to send Benedict XVI their questions on faith in 140 characters or less.

OFL @odelafu /RCA

MG

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-BN