Pope's tweets dissolved

Last week, the Vatican announced that the pope's postings to Twitter would end upon his official retirement day. His tweets have been summarily removed.

Pope's Twitter account
Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk

The Catholic Church is one of the few remaining organizations that believes in absolutes.

Sometimes, though, this gives an impression of harshness.

No sooner had the pope bid farewell to his flock than his tweets were summarily removed from Twitter. Pope Benedict XVI officially left office today.

It's true that last week the Vatican announced that Pope Benedict XVI's last tweet would be on February 27.

Yet to see the @Pointifex account deserted feels a little severe.

Currently, the account is open, but is marked simply with the words "Sede Vacante," the Latin for "vacant seat."

It's hard not to think that the decision to remove Pope Benedict's tweets was taken by a vacant seat, an apparatchik of absolutism.

The pope's tweets had always been reverential. Would it have truly hurt to leave them there until the next European came to take his place?

The tweets have not entirely disappeared. They have been archived by the Vatican here.

The pope currently has 1,613,653 followers. Which, to my eyes, is a surprisingly small number for such a universal religion.

But there's a curious sense of discomfort to this action that might disturb some.

It's odd enough that Pope Benedict is the first pope to resign in around 600 years. Rumors -- some concerning his health, some even more concerning -- have been rife over this peculiar departure.

Forbes reports that it will be up to the next pope to decide whether to tweet. This seems curious in itself. If he didn't, many would imagine this was the Church taking a retrograde step at a very difficult time.

Currently, it may well be that the church is still relatively new to social media. But one might have imagined that leaving Pope Benedict's tweets be would have offered some sense of both pride and continuity.

Instead, they leave a tinge of dark mystery.

Thin is the line between absolution and absolutism.

 

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