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Holy tweet! The pope comes to Twitter with @pontifex

The denizen of the Vatican has tweeted once before, but will now have his own username through which to share spiritual thoughts.

A look at the Pope's Twitter image.
A look at the Pope's Twitter image. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

Pope Benedict XVI will make his way to Twitter on December 12, the Vatican announced today.

The pope will start tweeting on December 12 under the username, "@pontifex," the Vatican has confirmed. Speaking to Reuters in an interview posted today, Greg Burke, senior media advisor to the Vatican, said that the name means "pope," as well as "bridge builder."

When the Pope takes over his account next week, it won't be the very, very first time he'll have shared his thoughts in 140 characters. Last year, when the Vatican portal launched, the Pope tweeted a message to followers, hoping they would check out the page.

"Dear Friends, I just launched," he tweeted. "Praised by our Lord Jesus Christ! With my prayers and blessings, Benedictus XVI."

According to Reuters, which was in attendance at today's press conference, the Vatican said that the first tweet will come solely from the pontiff, but future updates will be written by aides and then approved by the pope. The first tweets will be answers to questions posed by using the hashtag #askpontifex. Following that, his tweets will be "spiritual" in nature.

The pope has long believed that digital tools, such as social networks, should be employed by the Catholic Church. In 2010, for instance, he urged priests to become more Web-savvy.

"Priests are thus challenged to proclaim the gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources (images, videos, animated features, blogs, Web sites) which, alongside traditional means, can open up broad new vistas for dialogue, evangelization, and catechesis."

The pope's Twitter page already has nearly 56,000 followers. As of this writing, it has not been verified by Twitter.