It sounds like a joke, but it’s not… it’s a serious issue the Vatican had to consider when Pope Benedict recently became the first Pope ever to join Twitter, though Leo X did have a MySpace profile. Normally, it’s Church rules that when the pope speaks publicly, it becomes official Church doctrine. In this case, they have said his tweets will not… so I guess that gives Benedict the power to talk all the crazy shit he want.
Monsignor Paul Tighe, the Irish priest in charge of the Vatican’s new media department, tells me that whenever the Pope makes an important speech or delivers a homily, or writes a significant document, a “Twitter version” will also be prepared to encapsulate his thought.
But Twitter will definitely not be used as a platform for delivering dogma - authoritative definitions of the core principles of the Catholic faith.
“It’s just like the Pope having a private conversation with someone,” explains Archbishop Claudio Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
“There will be no dogmatic aspect to Papal tweets.”
The dogma of papal infallibility, as defined by the First Vatican Council of 1870, states that the Pope is preserved from the possibility of error when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the whole Church.
He also has to be speaking “ex cathedra”, or “from the chair” of Saint Peter, the first Pope, a metaphor for Benedict’s position as official teacher of Catholic doctrine. In the ancient world the chair was the symbol for the teacher, and remains so today for university professors.
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