The pope's new Twitter campaign may not be getting the response the Vatican had hoped for. But the Vatican's social media council has not been deterred.
The Vatican is aware of the jokes and the nature of the questions posed by Twitter users with the #askpontifex hashtag in advance of a live event. On Dec. 12, Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to answer selected questions via his new Twitter account @pontifex.
Elizabeth Scalia, a member of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications from the Holy See, the Vatican's official communications arm, said of the negative questions, "The haters are having fun right now, and it’s an ugly thing."
"Don’t let them scare you off, and don’t be afraid to ask the Pope a question," Scalia wrote on the PCCS website.
Many of the questions range from the absurd to the offensive, and are unlikely to be approved by the pope's advisers. For instance, Twitter user Ryan Cayari tweeted:
.@ pontifex Hi Pope! What did you think about the ending in Assassin's Creed 2? You know, where Ezio beats up Rodrigo Borgia...
Other users refer to the troubles the Roman Catholic Church has faced regarding accusations of child-molesting priests, as well as its stance on birth control and gay marriage. Twitter user Cartogeek asked, "as a celibate male who wears a dress, have you noticed any irony when you speak against #equalmarriage?"
Scalia said the pope is extending a cyberhand to the world and urges followers to extend theirs in return by posting questions using the hashtag #askpontifex.
"And don’t be afraid to show a little humor," she said. "Or even, a little love."
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