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Pope Benedict launches Twitter handle, @pontifex

Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI Credit: Pope Benedict XVI (Getty Images)

The secret's out. Pope Benedict's new handle on Twitter will be @pontifex, beating out other contenders that had been considered to showcase the thoughts of one of the world's most visible leaders.

Benedict already has 1.2 billion "followers" in the standard sense of the word but next week he will have another type when he enters what for any 85-year old is the brave new world of Twitter.

The Vatican said Monday that the pope will start tweeting on Dec. 12.

"The handle is a good one. It means 'pope' and it also means 'bridge builder'," said Greg Burke, senior media advisor to the Vatican.

Among the other handles that Vatican officials had reportedly considered was @BenedictusPPXVI.

But don't expect tweets about how the pope is feeling or which soccer team he is praying to win a derby.

The papal tweets will be spiritual, Burke said, and the pope will tweet when and how often he wants. And, even though Benedict is not the kind of person who walks around with a Blackberry or iPad, Burke said "all the pope's tweets are the pope's words. Nobody is going to be putting words into his mouth."

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