Pope to open a personal Twitter account

Pope Benedict XVI (Photo courtesy: Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images)

Pope Benedict XVI (Photo courtesy: Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images)

(CNN) – On Monday, Pope Benedict XVI will officially join millions of people around the globe by launching his own Twitter account. The formal announcement is set for a press conference Monday morning at the Vatican with Catholic and Twitter officials.

A Vatican official told CNN the pope will be composing the tweets for the new account himself. For the first tweet from the account, the pope will also press the button to send the tweet himself, but after that others will send the tweets on his behalf.

In June 2011 the pope sent his first tweet from the Twitter account for the Vatican news site, @news_va_en, to launch the new site http://www.news.va.  He wrote, “Dear friends, I just launched News.va. Praised be our Lord Jesus Christ! With my prayers and blessings, Benedictus XVI.”

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That signature has led some to guess that @BenedictusPPXVI will be the account name for the 85-year-old pope’s personal account, although @Pope would seem to be fitting as well. (Benedictus PP XVI is the pontiff’s signature in Latin, with the “PP” standing for papa, the Latin word for pope.)

More details on the long-expected event will be revealed at the press conference featuring Vatican officials, including spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi and Greg Burke, media adviser to the Secretariat of State, who will be joined by Claire Díaz-Ortiz, who heads social innovation at Twitter.  Burke is a relatively new addition to the Vatican staff, having been recruited away from the Fox News Channel, where he was Rome correspondent.  Díaz-Ortiz has been influential in getting religious leaders to join the social networking site.

Other religious leaders have found great success with Twitter.  The 140-character limit for tweets allows for short messages, perfect for small verses of scripture or inspiration.

The Dalia Lama (@DalaiLama), Rick Warren (@RickWarren), Joel Osteen (@JoelOsteen), and scores of other religious leaders utilize the site to spread their messages.

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Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, said, “The initiative comes from the Pope’s desire to utilize all opportunities for communication which technology offers and are characteristic in the world today,” according to the semi-official newspaper of the Vatican, L’Osservatore Romano.

The paper reported that Celli went on to say the pope has stressed how God communicated with mankind through Jesus, who was a “communicator who addressed the people of his time, using their own language.”

One outstanding question remains: What language will the pope use to tweet?  When the Vatican sends out important documents, it often uses multiple languages to communicate with the billion-plus members of the Catholic Church.  In addition to the English version, the Vatican news twitter feed also has Spanish, French and Italian versions.

Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor