VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The pope’s @Pontifex Twitter fans will get two more tweets before the account goes into “hibernation” during the “sede vacante” period starting when Pope Benedict XVI steps down.
Also, while the papal tweets go on hiatus, the Vatican’s Secretariat of State will be preparing to launch its first tweet from its new Twitter account @TerzaLoggia.
The new account, which had 2,000 followers and no tweets as of Feb. 26, will offer official news and information, ideally starting during the “interregnum,” the period between popes.
While the exact launch date is not known, Greg Burke, media adviser to the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, told Catholic News Service: “Stay tuned. It’ll be sooner rather than later.”
Meanwhile, contrary to some news reports, the @Pontifex account will not be permanently shut down after the pope resigns Feb. 28, but will merely remain inactive for the period of the “sede vacante.”
The name “Pontifex,” meaning “bridge builder” and “pope,” was chosen to refer “to the office more than the person,” and highlights the leader of the church and the Catholic faithful, said Msgr. Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
It also means the account handle does not have to change with every new pope.
Tweets in nine different languages are scheduled to be sent during Pope Benedict’s last general audience in St. Peter’s Square Feb. 27 and after his morning meeting with cardinals Feb. 28, Burke said Feb. 26.
After the “sede vacante” begins at 8 p.m. Rome time Feb. 28, the profile picture and name of Pope Benedict on the @Pontifex site will be taken down and replaced with a graphic of the “sede vacante” symbol, which is a special striped umbrella extended over a pair of crossed keys.
The bird’s-eye view background of St. Peter’s Square will remain.
Vatican Radio said “@Pontifex will be available for use by the next pope as he may wish.”
— By Carol Glatz Catholic News Service