Pope Benedict XVI’s tweets were deleted after he officially resigned the papacy on Thursday. The resignation was the first time in more than 600 years.
The @Pontifex account has been closed for the time being, though the next pope may choose to take it over if he wishes.
Pope Benedict XVI made history when he opened the Twitter account, reports PC Magazine. He became the first Pope to participate in social media.
Once the Pope resigned, the name of the account changed from Pope Benedict XVI to “Sede Vacante,” which means the period when the Catholic Church does not have a Pope. Vatican Radio stated of the interim period:
“It seems unimaginable that one could continue to use a communication tool so popular and powerful during the ‘sede vacante’ period.”
Benedict signed into the account in mid-December and tweeted in eight languages under @Pontifex. He answered questions from around the world and sent out tweets detailing his own personal wisdom.
The Catholic Telegraph notes that Benedict garnered 1.5 million Twitter followers in just six weeks. Officials have acknowledged that the Pope did not actually type the tweets himself. Instead, the account’s tweets were sent by someone in the Vatican’s secretariat of state.
The Pope did use the account in January when he gave his thoughts to an anti-abortion rally in Washington, D.C. He tweeted that politicians should work to protect the unborn and “promote a culture of life.”
There is no word on whether Benedict’s successor will follow in his footsteps. The Pope’s first tweet read:
“Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart.”
His first tweet was retweeted more than 64,569 times and was favorited by about 25,000 people. The day before he announced his decision to resign, Benedict wrote, “We must trust in the might power of God’s mercy. We are all sinners, but His grace transforms us and makes us new.”
Do you hope the next Pope will take up the @Pontifex Twitter handle?