Benedict

VATICAN CITY — He already has a billion followers.

Now, Pope Benedict XVI will join the Twitter-sphere, tweeting from a personal account along with the world’s celebrities, leaders and ordinary folk.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi made the announcement Thursday, saying details about Benedict’s handle and other information will come when the Vatican officially launches the account, perhaps before the end of the year.

The 85-year-old Benedict sent his first tweet from a Vatican account last year when he launched the Vatican’s news information portal, aimed at the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics. The new Twitter account will be his own, though it’s doubtful Benedict himself will wrestle down his encyclicals, apostolic exhortations and other papal pronouncements into 140-character bites.

Benedict, who writes longhand and doesn’t normally use a computer, will more likely sign off on tweets written in his name.

Printed on Friday, November 9, 2012 as: Pope to christen first personal Twitter link 

Pope Benedict XVI attends his weekly general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

ROME — A top American cardinal on Monday defended Pope Benedict’s handling of sexual abuse cases by clergy, saying he should be praised not criticized, as advocates for abuse victims demanded that the Vatican release its secret files on pedophile priests.

Cardinal William Levada told a Vatican-backed symposium on safeguarding children that Benedict had been “instrumental” in implementing standards to crack down on pedophile clergy as well as supportive of U.S. bishops’ efforts to fight the abuse.

Before becoming pontiff, Benedict held Levada’s job as the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the church office ensuring doctrinal purity and, in recent decades, also shaping the Holy See’s policies on handling abuse cases involving clergy.

As the symposium’s keynote opening speaker, Levada lamented that the pope “has had to suffer attacks by the media over these past years in various parts of the world when he should receive the gratitude of us all, in the Church and outside it.” The Vatican released copies of the speech.
SNAP, a U.S-based support and advocacy group for those abused as minors by clergy, was dismissive of the four-day, closed-door gathering.

“True change and child protection comes through accountability from secular authorities,” a SNAP official, Joelle Casteix, said in a statement. “Until we have that, we must see Rome’s meeting for exactly what it is: cheap window dressing.”

She contended the Vatican “still cannot do the simplest, cheapest, and most child-friendly action possible: Make public decades of secret files on clergy sex offenders and enablers.”