MANILA, Nov. 21, 2013—Almost a year since the Holy Father went online via Twitter, the Pope has recently hit the 10-million mark in terms of followers. But did you know that a “huge” part of his Twitter followers came from Muslim-dominated Middle Eastern countries?
It came as a surprise to Msgr. Paul Tighe, who is part of the team that manages the Papal Twitter account @Pontifex, when they discovered that the Pope’s huge following in the Middle East are actually coming from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
“When the Pope went on Twitter. We can see where in the world the Pope has followers. We were surprised to see that in the Middle Eastern countries and Gulf states, there were huge following. Then we realized that those were the Filipinos,” Tighe said in an interview with CBCPNews.
Tighe, the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, pointed out that the Twitter has been a very important tool for OFWs to exercise their faith despite being in places where religious freedom is taboo.
“These Filipinos are in a situation that are not easy for Catholics but Twitter is something that allowed them some connection to the Church,” he said.
The Vatican official said that the OFWs’ ingenuity in using social media to express and live their faith is something that he “loves about Filipinos.” He urged them to maximize Twitter and other social media platforms to build up their belongingness to the Catholic Church.
“What I want to tell Filipinos around the world is that make sure you see in social media the potential to build good relationships among yourselves, to build up your faith and sense of belongingness to the Church and closeness to Christ,” he added.
The Vatican social media expert is in Manila to keynote the Catholic Social Media Summit (CSMS) on Saturday at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran in Manila. Tighe led the team that created and maintains the Pope’s Twitter account.
It was Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI who posted the first Papal tweet last December 12. The Holy Father’s social media activity was briefly interrupted after Benedict announced his resignation in March and while the College of Cardinals convened in a conclave to elect his successor. Pope Francis resumed using the Papal Twitter after being elected.
According to Tighe, the Pope usually composes the original tweet in Spanish or Italian and their team translates it to seven other languages such as French, Portuguese and Arabic. (YouthPinoy)