Follow the Pope on Twitter for Lent

2012-02-28 Vatican Radio

Some like to give up a favourite food for Lent. Others choose to follow a bible study course. Or commit to helping those less fortunate than themselves. But in our increasingly secular societies, many young people no longer keep the Lenten season in any special way – that’s why the Pontifical Council for Social Communications has come up with a new idea to focus hearts and minds on the challenges contained in Pope Benedict’s Lenten message for 2012..
Starting on Ash Wednesday, themes from that papal message will be posted on Twitter each day during Lent and over the coming months other papal speeches and documents are likely to be tweeted in a similar way, hoping to attract the media-savvy generation and entice them to find out more...
But is it all just another technological gimmick that ‘dumbs down’ the message of the Church? Not at all, says Msgr Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, “many of the key Gospel ideas are readily rendered in just 140 characters…..”

Listen to Msgr Tighe’s interview with Philippa Hitchen:

“The idea was very simply to try and use Twitter to share with people the essence of the Pope’s message for Lent, so over the 40 days of Lent to tweet every day one of the ideas of this message…. doing it in a way so that people can re-tweet and already people we know from our meeting with bloggers last year are already re-tweeting…
The pope2you site had phenomenal success at the time of its launch… over 5 million hits in the first week or two of its operation….the level of interest was such that we’ve kept it going by focusing on the big themes in the life of the church – Christmas, Easter, World Youth Day….”

Fairly soon we’ll also be able to get the Pope’s Angelus and other speeches on Twitter?

“Yes, I think a lot of attention is being given to the idea of seeing Twitter as a channel that could allow for a more direct and immediate way of sharing the nucleus of the Pope’s thoughts on various occasions, so I don’t think it’ll be confined to Lent…
To those who say it’s dumbing down –no, this is entry level…to provoke people’s interest and to invite them then to follow the message and read the text…many of the key Gospel ideas are readily rendered in 140 characters – this is not the only way the Church speaks but it’s an avenue that is open to us and it’s pithy, succinct and it’s one I think that we’re quite good at…”