Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


So the Pope's tweeting, but do we really want ethical advice in 140 characters?

It may take time for His Holiness to loosen up online

“Finally!” I cried last week on hearing the news, “the Pope’s on Twitter!” I had been wondering how long it would take His Holiness to succumb.

And I'd been so excited for today’s first tweet. "What will he say?" I asked myself, fists excitedly clenched. "Why do I care?" I secondarily mused. 

I reasoned that, though I am not a Catholic, I enjoy novelty amalgamations - and old people and technology are one of these.

As it was, I was a little disappointed with his entrance: “Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter.” This is fine, I suppose… although in future he might do well to become a little more nonchalant: "Does anyone have a good mechanic? : ( #flattyre #pmob” , for example.  Or,“Just spilt some milk #robechange”. No question, Some day-to-day stuff would help ease everyone in to such a divine online presence.

Perhaps the closer we get to Christmas the better the tweets will be. Ideally, we'd be privy to some insider stuff on Christmas day, say an Instagram of the turkey, a little heat from the kitchen – “forgot the Nigella seeds #fml”.

What does he eat? What does he watch? How often does he bathe? My anticipation is growing by the day.

The last time I came close to papal insight was a couple of years ago, when I was in the market for a new wall calendar and stumbled across Pope Benedict Official 2011. This proved a disappointment, though. There were no beach shots, no holiday wear, no black and white snaps that screamed: "What a long day in the saddle on this Western ranch, let me throw some water from a nearby bucket on my face". Just: "Pope hat on – side profile"; "Pope hat off – back of head".  Needless to say, this didn't satisfy my quest for exclusive insight.

I do wonder, however, whether Twitter is the right outlet for the head of the Catholic Church. Don’t get me wrong – a lot can be said in 140 characters, sure, but it seems like a bit of a free-for-all arena.

What if he gets trolled? He may be the Pope, but he is also an old man, and that immediately makes one lean towards sympathy.

It also seems a bit weird to me that the Pope’s messages might one day be trending alongside other celebrity tweeters, like superstar rapper 50 Cent. (Sample quote: "After the movie I went to see my b*tch shana cause she gives me free food. She work at the drive thru over at mc donalds and sh*t.")

What I’m trying to say is, I don’t know if Twitter is the place for profound. 50 Cent is an unusual human, true, but out of the two extremes, I’d be more inclined to head to Twitter for that. Personally, I would never look there for ethical advice - religious or not.

And I don't mean to ridicule the Pope, only the use of the Internet in this context. Surely there are better ways of modernising the Church than this.

Maybe I’ll be proved wrong and the whole thing will be a great success – either way I remain just as excited to see what he says over the next few weeks, holding out my (possibly) over-optimistic hope that he gives us a running commentary on the success of his tree decorations. We’ll just have to wait and see.