Benedict XVI tweeted for the first time at the end of the General Audience in the Paul VI Hall
“Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless you all from my heart?”. At the end of the General Audience on Wednesday morning, 12 December, from a tablet offered to him by four young people, Benedict sent out his first-ever Message via Twitter under his personal Twitter handle: @pontifex, where his followers have already topped the one million mark.It was an gesture the Pope indirectly explained in the Catechesis when he emphasized that “God has not gone away from the world, he is not absent, but comes to meet our needs in various ways which we must learn to discern”. Among the areas in which we can discern signs of God's presence in the world are also the new instruments that technology makes available for communicaitng, especially among the young.
A conversation with Sr Nicla Spezzati, Director of the new Studium of the Dicastery for Religious
Among the Second Vatican Council's recommendations to religious are a return to the Gospel, a rediscovery of the founding charism and adherence to the magisterium of the Church with the assumption
of one's apostolic and missionary responsibilities. During these days the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life is presenting these instructions in a thoroughly updated and streamlined Studium course. Indeed, fifty years after the beginning of the Council the formation offered has been extended with the introduction of the study course on the ecclesial magisterium, which at the outset was called the “practical course” of the dicastery and today has become the “Studium”. It is an interdisciplinary formation course on the ecclesial magisterium and on the canonical rules governing the consecrated life in the Church, dedicated to Benedict XVI. Sr Nicla Spezzati talks about it in a long interview with our newspaper. It is she who, with the dicastery's other undersecretary, Fr Sebastiano Paciolla, directs the Studium.
The Pope's Appeal at the end of the General Audience in the Paul VI Hall
At the General Audience on Wednesday morning, 5 December, the Pope asked for peace and aid for the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, “which has been the scene of armed conflicts and violence for months”. In the face of the “disturbing news of the grave humanitarian crisis in the east” of the African country, Benedict XVI reported “the shortage of food for survival”, emphasizing that thousands of inhabitants have been “obliged to leave their homes, to seek refuge elsewhere”. Hence his appeal “for dialogue and reconciliation”, together with a request “to the international community to do its utmost to meet the needs” of the people.
The Press Office of the Holy See, packed as usual on these special occasions, a panel laid out for the presentation of perhaps the most anticipated of late: the launch of the Pope on Twitter, the social network of 140 characters. This news has been known for a while. And it isn't exactly novel since Benedict XVI already entered the world of microblogging last year. This time, however, his presence there will be fixed with a personalized account - @pontifex, in English and seven other languages, Arabic included – and the date of the first tweet:: Wednesday, 12 December, coinciding with the General Audience. And to symbolize the importance attributed by the people of Twitter (500 million people around the world, 40 percent of whom are between the ages of 18 and 40) a press agency announced the registration of 40,000 followers just 20 minutes after the Pope's account was made known.
At the General Audience the Pope recalls that faith should be communicated through words and example
At the General Audience on Wednesday, 28 November, the Holy Father called for access to effective drugs and appropriate treatment for those suffering from AIDS. The Pope reminded the large gathering of faithful in the Paul VI Hall that the upcoming 1 December is the “World AIDS Day”, proclaimed by the United Nations,“to focus attention on a disease that has taken a toll of millions of lives and caused tragic human suffering, accentuated in the world's poorest regions that only with great difficulty have access to effective medicines”. Hence Benedict XVI's encouragement of the “many projects in the context of the ecclesial mission which are promoted to eliminate this scourge”. And he had a special thought for the large number of children “who each year contract the virus from their mothers, despite the preventive treatment that exists”.
The Pope made the appeal at the end of the Audience which he dedicated especially to the topic of communicating faith. “How can we talk about God in our time?” was “the central question” around which the Pope developed his reflection”. “We can speak of God”, was the answer he gave, first of all “because God has spoken to us”. Indeed, he “is not a remote hypothesis concerning the world's origins” , or “mathematical knowledge that is far removed from us”, but “he cares about us” and “he loves us”.