The tragedy of Papal tweeting

It was disturbing to see on a TV news report that the Pope has taken to Twitter to reach his flock.

I had wondered about this because there had been quite a build-up to the event. The Catholic Church is no slouch at PR when it wants to get a message out, even an SMS version.

What attracted my attention was comment about whether the Pope himself would compose his messages or whether someone else would do it for him.

I didn’t take much notice but it just nagged at me as a strange thing. After all, for a man who supposedly speaks with all the authority of god, 140 characters is hardly a big ask.

But then I saw video of this massively stage-managed occasion where crowds watched as the Pontiff reached-out to them via this little mobile phone keyboard.

Trouble was, Benedict XVI was so utterly frail that his index finger could hardly press the Send button. Seriously, the man needed to be propped-up like a person on their death bed greeting last visitors. It was at once both sad and disturbing.

The imagery made it clear that the Pope could hardly conceive his own 140 character messages which makes you wonder how he can lay down laws for a billion souls across the globe. And, if he can’t, then what shadowy figures behind the scenes put words in his mouth?

I’m not suggesting any kind of conspiracy but just shocked at the frailty of a person holding such enormous responsibility.

His first Tweet was rather unusual, too. After all, who thanks followers ‘for their generous response’ when you haven’t even sent the message yet? Very strange.

Clearly the Church’s senior clergy wanted to reassure the world that their leader is in touch with contemporary society. Yet it failed miserably by highlighting just how estranged he is.

And still we wait for the one message that really counts: paedophilia is evil and those who practise it are evil. And we wait even more for decisive action that would speak louder than words that the church is truly determined to resolve this tragic stain on its reputation.