For the Pope on Twitter, many slings and arrows

Having joined Twitter, His Holiness must now deal with the House of the Unholy that is the Twitterverse. Penance may not be enough.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read
Now there's speaking truth to power. Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

When you come down from on high and mix with us, les miserables, it can be a touch depressing.

For though you try to take us seriously, we may not feel the same way. And, well, social media allows us to express our feelings without fear of permanent damnation.

Pope Benedict XVI, famously a recent convert to Twitter, is discovering that mixing with us isn't always pretty.

His Holiness -- and his almost equally holy advisers -- surely believes that one has to speak to the faithful through every available channel.

And yet this entails encountering the unfaithful too: the lapsed, the skeptical, the jaundiced, the troubled.

Disclosure: I am all of those.

After stepping gingerly in his Prada shoes into Twitter's morass, the Pope has has now offered a handful of tweets. He is even following seven people. (Well, they're actually all himself in different languages.)

Yet there is a large, perhaps heathen crowd lying in wait for what they see as the Pontiff's pontification.

Yesterday, he tweeted: "How can we celebrate the Year of Faith better in our lives?"

He may not have been expecting the replies he received. There were serious, but critical replies, such as this from klubbkidd: "@Pontifex by preaching more acceptance Your Holiness. the Church has lost it's footing in adapting to the times."

Some were more direct. ElHijoDePutin (I feel sure he isn't) offered in Spanish: "Mmm, by not raping children and by paying property tax."

Oh, yes. This will turn into Apple Vs. Microsoft. Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Others went for a certain sort of sociopolitical humor. Take this, from pinchinn: "Explain to me why it's a bad idea to wear a condom." (Sadly, the Pope has yet to reply to this one.)

There were those who just decided to channel absurdist comedy. For example this from GgRrEegOorYy: "Have you got 10 Euros?"

Some in the flock flaunted their chance to simply be passionately rude to the Pope.

Several replies enjoyed the rude colloquialism beginning with "b" that you think might be a new form of gateau, but then realize you only see it on porn sites. One lady called Binnie suggested "hookers and blow."

To the latter, one Colby Wilson assailed Binnie: "How could you say that to the Pope?"

The Vatican has publicly declared thus far that it is ready to leave all replies up, confident that good will prevail over evil. I may have slightly paraphrased that last part.

Going through all the Pope's tweets and the replies, though, makes me believe that his Twitter account will very soon turn into something livelier than Apple vs. Microsoft.

The Pope might consider not phrasing tweets as questions, as this does tend to incite.

A recent tweet offered: "How can faith in Jesus be lived in a world without hope?"

A recent reply from one John Freiler reads: "you are a huge bummer, dude."

Is nothing sacred?