Pope Francis‘ pronouncement yesteday on Twitter might come as a bit of surprise:
My thoughts turn to all who are unemployed, often as a result of a self-centred mindset bent on profit at any cost.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) May 2, 2013
Benedict XVI made similar gestures during his reign, which predated the now-routine practice of official papal tweeting, but this message seems different in tone. I note a distinct absence of appeals to the supernatural; Francis does not claim that unemployment jeopardizes man’s capacity to walk with God, avoid sin, etc. He likely would have expanded on these points in a forum that allowed for elaboration, yes, but the name of the game on Twitter is concision, and careful thought went into the tweet’s precise composition.
Which is all a long way of saying — if their goal is to “soften” the pope’s image, Francis and his presumptive social media helpers appear to be doing an effective job.