Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI kisses a child as he leaves on his popemobile at the end of his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican May 19, 2010. Reuters

The Vatican has announced that Pope Benedict XVI would join Twitter on December 12, coinciding the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The Pope, who leads some 1.2 billion Roman Catholics around the globe, has 474,295 followers at the time of filing this story, two days after unveiling the handle @pontifex. He will not follow anyone but himself.


Beginning now, people everywhere will have a chance to Tweet questions relating to faith and belief using the hashtag #AskPontifex. Questions will be curated by the Vatican staff for the Pope to respond to via his new Twitter account on December 12th in a live tweeting event at the end of his weekly audience, wrote Claire Diaz Ortiz, Manager of Social Innovation, Twitter.

The Vatican also unveiled handles for other languages like Spanish: @pontifex_es, Italian: @pontifex_it, Portuguese: @pontifex_pt, German: @pontifex_de, Polish: @pontifex_pl, Arabic: @pontifex_ar, and French: @pontifex_fr.

Claire Diaz Ortiz wrote on Twitter blog that spiritual and religious leaders around the world spread their messages and maintain an exceptionally strong presence on Twitter and the followers respond to these topics with replies, retweets, and clicks on links much more often than they do other subjects.

"The Pope's presence on Twitter means that no matter where you live or where you are, you can connect with, and get inspiration directly from, one of the world's most influential religious leaders," wrote Ortiz.