Pope Francis takes to Twitter with prayer request

With nearly 2M Twitter followers, pope dives into social media

Pope Francis made his first foray into the world of Twitter, making his first tweet on Sunday.

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was chosen last week to lead the Roman Catholic Church. Having taken the name Pope Francis I, he delivered his first angelus, an afternoon prayer, as pontiff to a crowd of about 300,000 in St. Peter's Square on Sunday.

He also tweeted a greeting to his nearly 2 million Twitter followers.

"Dear friends, I thank you from my heart and I ask you to continue to pray for me, he said in his first tweet.

On the day he was elected pope, the Vatican tweeted on the pope's account, "HABEMUS PAPAM FRANCISCUM," which means, "We have Pope Francis."

The pope had not previously had a Twitter account.

Pope Francis' predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, launched the pontiff's Twitter account last December. Pope Benedict, who made social media inroads at the Vatican, sent his first tweet about three months ago, blessing the approximately 648,000 people who had begun following him before he had even made his first Twitter appearance.

Pope Benedict made other forays into social media, as well. In 2009, the Vatican established its own YouTube channel, providing video and audio clips of Benedict's addresses, along with news about the pontiff.

In 2010, he asked priests around the globe to adopt social media to take their ministries online. He encouraged priests to begin using blogs, websites, videos and images to communicate with people.

In the last hours of Pope Benedict's papacy, he sent a final tweet to his more than 1.6 million Twitter followers, thanking them for their love and support.

Shortly after Benedict stepped aside, his history of tweets were deleted from the Twitter account and his name was removed. His tweets now can be found on the Vatican's website. The Vatican said it would be up to the new pope to decide if he would tweet or use other social media.

The Twitter account of the pontiff now carries Pope Francis' name, and though he's only tweeted once, his Twitter followers have grown to more than 1.97 million.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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