Pope's First Tweet - Twitter Reacts To His Social Holiness With Snark And Glee


VATICAN CITY - It's been a long time coming, but Pope Benedict XVI has finally graced the world with his first few tweets. Two weeks after establishing his Twitter handle, @Pontifex (Latin for "Pope") in eight different languages, he finally sent out some 140-character blessings Wednesday morning :

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.

— Benedict XVI (@Pontifex) December 12, 2012

How can we celebrate the Year of Faith better in our daily lives?

— Benedict XVI (@Pontifex) December 12, 2012

By speaking with Jesus in prayer, listening to what he tells you in the Gospel and looking for him in those in need

— Benedict XVI (@Pontifex) December 12, 2012

At the time of writing, 700,187 people were following his English-language account. The second most-followed language is Spanish with at least 215,991 followers. The smallest following is in Arabic with 8,281 followers.

@thomasherve14 via Twitter


Well, after all that build up @pontifex has tweeted.Some dull religious nonsense. Not even a photo of his dinner. Doing Twitter wrong.

— Al Terry (@fudgecrumpet) December 12, 2012

Disappointed @pontifex"s 1st tweet not in Latin! Surely - "Carissimi: impetro in tactu in vobis per Twitter" :) #pope #schooldays

— Jon Williams(@WilliamsJon) December 12, 2012

A bit disappointed with the Pope's first tweet. After all that hype,I was expecting him to tell us who killed Biggie and Tupac.

— Jay.Jazzi (@JayJazzi) December 12, 2012



— Pete McVries (@PeteMcVries) December 12, 2012

@pontifex please follow me! You'll love to RT me... and BTW Merry Christmas!

— Alex Murashko (@AlexMurashko) December 12, 2012

OMG the Pope is tech-savvy! He is interacting with his followers! He just asked his first Twitter question!

— Miguel Lago (@jm_lago) December 12, 2012

@pontifex @mediaduemila Nella storia! Nel presente! Nel futuro! Con il primo tweet il #Papa è una persona digitale! Benvenuto, Santità!

— Antonio Irlando (@AntonioIrlando) December 12, 2012

In history! In the present! In the future! With his first tweet, the Pope is a digital person. Welcome, Holiness!


Dear CNN, the Pope making a twitter account is not news.

— Julia Lasagna (@fapnapkin) December 12, 2012


Thsi @pontifex is tweeting from an iPad. How materialistic of him.

— Ganju Patel (@shubHASHISH) December 12, 2012

“@pontifex: How can we celebrate the Year of Faith better in our daily lives?” - is the answer "bacon"?

— (@AndreTheViking) December 12, 2012

@pontifex Or…you know…have a less confused and corrupted mythic belief system.

— Damien Walter (@damiengwalter) December 12, 2012

Pope only follows his own twitter accounts... and I thought some of you have problems

— Jimmy(@kariuki_njoroge) December 12, 2012

Pape @pontifex_fr sur Twitter: L"Église s'ouvre enfin à la technologie. Et le condom latex? On dit que ça peut sauver des vies en Afrique...

— Camille Grenier (@CamGrenier) December 12, 2012

the Pope @pontifex_fr on Twitter: The Church finally opens up to technology. And latex condoms? You know it could save lives in Africa...

Bro'ing it up with the Holy Father:

@pontifex Big up yuhself, Popie...JAH Guide and Protect.

— DJ Wayne (@DJWizzzle) December 12, 2012

@pontifex right on bro

— rsidney (@rdotsidney) December 12, 2012

@pontifex Wag1 g. U kool yeh?

— John McDonnell (@thewebsiteyep) December 12, 2012

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What It Means When The Jews Of Germany No Longer Feel Safe

A neo-Nazi has been buried in the former grave of a Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender – not an oversight, but a deliberate provocation. This is just one more example of antisemitism on the rise in Germany, and society's inability to respond.

At a protest against antisemitism in Berlin

Eva Marie Kogel


BERLIN — If you want to check the state of your society, there's a simple test: as the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John Jay McCloy, said in 1949, the touchstone for a democracy is the well-being of Jews. This litmus test is still relevant today. And it seems Germany would not pass.

Incidents are piling up. Most recently, groups of neo-Nazis from across the country traveled to a church near Berlin for the funeral of a well-known far-right figure. He was buried in the former grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender, a gravesite chosen deliberately by the right-wing extremists.

The incident at the cemetery

They intentionally chose a Jewish grave as an act of provocation, trying to gain maximum publicity for this act of desecration. And the cemetery authorities at the graveyard in Stahnsdorf fell for it. The church issued an immediate apology, calling it a "terrible mistake" and saying they "must immediately see whether and what we can undo."

There are so many incidents that get little to no media attention.

It's unfathomable that this burial was allowed to take place at all, but now the cemetery authorities need to make a decision quickly about how to put things right. Otherwise, the grave may well become a pilgrimage site for Holocaust deniers and antisemites.

The incident has garnered attention in the international press and it will live long in the memory. Like the case of singer-songwriter Gil Ofarim, who recently claimed he was subjected to antisemitic abuse at a hotel in Leipzig. Details of the crime are still being investigated. But there are so many other incidents that get little to no media attention.

Photo of the grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

The grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

Jens Kalaene/dpa/ZUMA

Crimes against Jews are rising

Across all parts of society, antisemitism is on the rise. Until a few years ago, Jewish life was seen as an accepted part of German society. Since the attack on the synagogue in Halle in 2019, the picture has changed: it was a bitter reminder that right-wing terror against Jewish people has a long, unbroken history in Germany.

Stories have abounded about the coronavirus crisis being a Jewish conspiracy; meanwhile, Muslim antisemitism is becoming louder and more forceful. The anti-Israel boycott movement BDS rears its head in every debate on antisemitism, just as left-wing or post-colonial thinking are part of every discussion.

Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

Since 2015, the number of antisemitic crimes recorded has risen by about a third, to 2,350. But victims only report around 20% of cases. Some choose not to because they've had bad experiences with the police, others because they're afraid of the perpetrators, and still others because they just want to put it behind them. Victims clearly hold out little hope of useful reaction from the state – so crimes go unreported.

And the reality of Jewish life in Germany is a dark one. Sociologists say that Jewish children are living out their "identity under siege." What impact does it have on them when they can only go to nursery under police protection? Or when they hear Holocaust jokes at school?

Germany needs to take its antisemitism seriously

This shows that the country of commemorative services and "stumbling blocks" placed in sidewalks as a memorial to victims of the Nazis has lost its moral compass. To make it point true north again, antisemitism needs to be documented from the perspective of those affected, making it visible to the non-Jewish population. And Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

That is the first thing. The second is that we need to talk about specifically German forms of antisemitism. For example, the fact that in no other EU country are Jewish people so often confronted about the Israeli government's policies (according to a survey, 41% of German Jews have experienced this, while the EU average is 28%). Projecting the old antisemitism onto the state of Israel offers people a more comfortable target for their arguments.

Our society needs to have more conversations about antisemitism. The test of German democracy, as McCloy called it, starts with taking these concerns seriously and talking about them. We need to have these conversations because it affects all of us. It's about saving our democracy. Before it's too late.

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