#askpontifex meme takes off before pope's first tweet

Questions for the pontiff range from earnest to rude and cover a wide spectrum of topics from faith to "The Cosby Show."

The pope has already racked up nearly half a million followers in eight languages ... and a long queue of queries. Screenshot by CNET

Pope Benedict XVI has signed up for Twitter, and though the pontiff has yet to bestow his first tweet upon us, he's racked up nearly half a million followers .

He is also already facing a backlog of questions -- ranging from sincere to raunchy -- from the faithful and the not-so-faithful alike.

Twitter made the announcement Monday that the pope's personal Twitter handle was live and that Vatican City's most famous resident would be taking questions via the #askpontifex hashtag, some of which will be answered by the pontiff himself during a live tweeting session on December 12.

Twitter and the Vatican's communications staff have made it pretty clear that Benedict is only interested in receiving questions on matters of faith. But as the resulting avalanche of one-liners and downright rudeness reveal, more people on Twitter seem to practice irreverence than Catholicism. My favorite of the bunch so far:

In fact, it's pretty difficult to find many sincere questions on matters of faith (in English, anyway -- some of the Spanish queries seem to be less ironic and cynical) in the #askpontifex stream. Even the horrified tweets of the more respectful bystanders seem to outnumber actual, earnest questions:

I think you're right, Mr. Suess. And by the way, I hope that once you've wrapped up your master's you continue on to get your doctorate so we can call you, well ... you know.

Oh my goodness, the irreverence is contagious. My apologies. Better just sign off here and let some of the more clever questions for the pope speak for themselves:

 

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