Pope Francis may be the head of the Roman Catholic Church that has customary traditions that date back centuries, but the pope is not one to shy away from modern technology. After all, the pope does indeed have an active Twitter account with over 3.5 million followers.
In the age of social media, communication has never been easier, quicker or more efficient. Pope Francis may have seemingly realized this fact as he began actively "tweeting" as the new head of the church when he was declared the new pope. He has now deemed the Internet as a "gift from God," one that has the ability to reach multitudes with the right message.
"In a world like this, media can help us to feel closer to one another, creating a sense of the unity of the human family which can, in turn, inspire solidarity and serious efforts to ensure a more dignified life for all," wrote Pope Francis. The statement was penned in an open letter to the public for World's Communication Day.
Pope Francis is not the first religious figure to embrace the production of social media. His predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI also approved of the new age of communication, though he did warn about the possible downsides. "In the search for sharing, for 'friends' there is the challenge to be authentic and faithful, and not give in to the illusion of constructing an artificial public profile for oneself," he wrote.
The use of Twitter and Facebook's have rapidly expanded in the last years. The underlying notion of communicating quickly around the world has brought news from all over the world in a matter of seconds. Businesses, celebrities and even religious leaders like Pope Francis have all utilized social media to get their messages or news across.
The usage of social media is a form of evangelism for many religious organizations and churches hoping to reach to multitudes worldwide. Access to social media also grants the freedom of speech and religion that can be carried across the world. Leaders and figures such as Pope Francis, Joel Osteen or Nick Vujicic have millions of followers on the respective social media, which includes sermons, messages all for the glory of their God.
Pope Francis uses his Twitter account for positive messages of compassion and support for all events from poverty, unemployment or human rights. In coinciding with the March for Life, pro-life rallies this week, Pope Francis tweeted his support for the cause.
Pope Francis and many religious figures have turned to social media to expand their message worldwide and break barriers from cultures. "Good communication helps us to grow closer, to know one another better, and ultimately, to grow in unity," said the pope. His followers continue to increase and reach out outside of his Vatican demographic to enforce the messages of the church and God.