Pope's Twitter Account to Shut Down
When a pope has exited his office, typically through death, his Cardinal Chamberlain or Chancellor, commonly known as the Camerlengo, has the responsibility of fulfilling an unusual, thousand-year-old Church tradition.
When Pope John Paul II died, Camerlengo Eduardo Martínez Somalo, gently tapped the pope's head three times with a silver hammer, asking the Pope in Latin and using his baptismal name, if he were simply sleeping...
Once it was officially determined that Pope John Paul II had deceased, Somalo removed the Fisherman's Ring, the ring John Paul II wore in life as part of his official duties, took it to a table nearby, and defaced it, either by hitting it with the same hammer, or cutting it with a pair of metal shears. Somalo then took a file to the ring's face - ceremoniously severing the Pope's role as Church leader.
Given a voluntary transfer of Papal power hasn't happened before in 600 years, it isn't known exactly how the exchange will occur on February 28th, but Pope Benedict XVI will likely hand over his ring to the present Camerlengo, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. Bertone will deface the ring according to tradition, and the Conclave will do its duties behind locked doors.
But what of the virtual, social, online insignia of Papal power? According to Vatican Radio, Pope Benedict XVI's Twitter account, created just last year and having only been used 36 times to send faith-based messages in nine languages, will also be cut loose at 8:00 p.m. Feb 28th, permanently removed with a single click of its de-activation link.
But why? The official Papal account, @Pontifex, appears to have been created as a generic account, to be used by all who hold the office now and in the future, just as the Vatican's official English news Twitter account serves the Church's faithful now and tomorrow.Continued on the next page