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Pope's Twitter account to be closed, but may be reused by successor

When Pope Benedict XVI formally steps down from office at the end of February, his Twitter account will also be vacated—whether temporarily or permanently remains to be seen. A report on dzBB radio said the @Pontifex account, whose English version is followed by more than 1.5 million users, is to be shut down when the Pope leaves office. CNN quoted Vatican Radio as saying Benedict XVI may offer his last tweet on February 27, when he gives his final general audience. If not, he may tweet for the last time on Feb. 28 "before retiring into silence," CNN quoted Vatican Radio as saying. Benedict XVI's English version has 1,577,457 followers as of Sunday evening (Manila time). The Pope also has Spanish, Italian, German, French, Arab and Latin versions of his Twitter presence. According to The Vatican Today, Msgr. Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, issued the following statement: "The Twitter account @pontifex was created for the exclusive use of the Pope. @pontifex will be inactive during the interim period between the renouncement of Pope Benedict XVI and the election of his successor (sede vacante). @pontifex will be available for use by the next Pope as he may wish." Benedict XVI made his first tweet last Dec. 12, saying he was "pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter" and "bless all of you from my heart." — BM, GMA News