Unless you’ve been living under a rock this week (the same one my non-tweeting husband lives under), you’ve heard the exciting news that Pope Benedict XVI has officially launched his Twitter presence and that he will begin tweeting next week on December 12, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas and of the unborn. As I write this, his Twitter profile at @Pontifex has already garnered over half a million followers even before having tweeted. He is currently following the seven other alternative language profiles created to address us in a variety of languages.
It’s been announced that the Holy Father will occasionally respond to inquiries from the faithful and others who have questions of faith by using the hashtag #AskPontifex. For the uninitiated or non-geeks among us, a hashtag is defined as “A tag embedded in a message posted on the Twitter microblogging service, consisting of a word within the message prefixed with a hash sign.” Using the search feature on Twitter, it’s possible and actually highly engaging to follow various hashtags being discussed on the social media. Many of us involved in the New Evangelization are actively employing hashtags in our work. When major news hits, I honestly frequently check Twitter hashtags along with consulting trusted media sources. It’s often possible to get a terrific eyewitness perspective this way.
So #askpontifex opens up a beautiful potential for dialogue. Yes, our Holy Father will likely respond on occasion to queries. But the truth is you and I can do so as well — by frequently checking the hashtag and engaging with folks there, we have the opportunity to be on the front lines of the New Evangelization and to engage even doubters and idiots with love and respect — but especially with the truth. Here are a few recent examples of questions asked today:
My fellow Patheos Catholic Channel bloggers have been engaging in a dialogue about #askpontifex and thought it would be interesting for many of us to share what we would ask the Holy Father using this hashtag. Our own Elizabeth Scalia addressed this topic yesterday and you’ll see many of our Channel’s bloggers taking it up in the days ahead. I’ve pondered too many of the questions I might ask him in my own simple way. They include his recommendations for sharing the faith with my young adult sons, his words on his favorite saints, and the obvious, “will you come to my house for dinner?” But I think if given one shot, my question would have to be:
Dear @Pontifex in what ways did your mother pass the faith along to you & what advice do you have for Catholic Moms today? #askpontifex
And now it’s your turn. I’d like to know what you would ask @Pontifex in 140 characters or less. Please leave your comments here on the blog, but feel free to tweet them too using #askpontifex!
To entice you to comment, I am going to draw one random question from our commenters here to win a copy of the fantastic book The Church and New Media by Brandon Vogt.
Leave your comment by midnight pacific on Friday, December 7, 2012 to be eligible for this drawing.
Update: Congratulations to Natalie, our winner. Thanks to all who shared their thoughts and comments!