(RNS) — Over the weekend, Pope Francis issued a string of passionate tweets on social justice, a topic that has marked his papacy.
The normal papal output under Francis has generally been one to three Tweets a day. Some days have gone by with no Tweets.
This past weekend, he posted 17 Tweets, 13 on Saturday alone.
What is going on? Did the pope have too many espressos?
When the papal Twitter account (@Pontifex) was inaugurated by Pope Benedict in 2012, it was an innovation seen as the Vatican’s attempt to keep up with the times.
Today, with almost 19 million followers, it has become a normal channel for the Vatican to get out the pope’s message. Tweets are done by the Vatican communications office, which pulls text from papal prayers, sermons, audiences and speeches. Sometimes videos are embedded in the Tweets.
This weekend’s posts were vintage Francis — they would not surprise anyone who has been paying attention to his message. What was unusual was that 11 of the Tweets on Saturday were a unit.
The pope began by writing, “We must adapt our socio-economic models so they have a human face, because many models have lost it.”
He continued with 10 requests: “Thinking about these situations, in God’s name I want to ask:
- “The big laboratories to liberalise patents and to carry out a gesture of humanity and allow every human being access to the vaccine.
- “Financial groups and international credit institutions to guarantee poor countries the basic needs of their people and to waive those debts so often contracted against the interests of those same peoples.
- “The large mining, oil, forestry, real estate, agribusiness companies to stop destroying nature, to stop polluting, to stop intoxicating people and food.
- “The big food corporations to stop imposing monopolistic production and distribution structures that inflate prices and end up withholding bread from the hungry.
- “Arms manufacturers and dealers to totally cease their activity, that foments violence and war, often in the context of geopolitical games that costs millions of lives and displaces many people.
- “Technology giants to stop preying on human weakness, people’s vulnerability, in order to make a profit.
- “The telecommunications giants to liberalise access to educational material and exchange with teachers via the internet so that poor children can be educated even under quarantine.
- “That the media put an end to the logic of post-truth, disinformation, defamation, slander and that sick attraction for scandal and that they seek to contribute to human fraternity.
- “Powerful countries to stop aggression, blockades and unilateral sanctions against any country anywhere on earth and that conflicts be resolved in multilateral fora such as the United Nations.
- “All of us religious leaders, that we never use God’s name to foment wars. Let us stand by our people, the workers, the humble, and fight together with them so that integral human development may become a reality. Let us build bridges of love.”
Earlier in the day, he had tweeted, “The fight against hunger demands we overcome the cold logic of the market, which is greedily focused on mere economic profit and the reduction of food to a commodity, and strengthening the logic of solidarity.”
And on Sunday, he repeated his assertion that “The environmental and social crisis are two sides of the same coin. Therefore, strategies for resolving them demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.”
Pope Francis has turned Twitter into a prophetic medium. It is his way of getting the Gospel message out to the world.
This recent Twitter burst has been successful because it was so unusual and got the attention of journalists. The problem is this will only work once. If such papal Tweet storms become common, they may get lost in the cacophony of the internet.
But the church has come a long way from Jesus preaching on a hillside to a pope broadcasting through cyberspace.