THE POPE tweeted in Latin for the first time yesterday - drawing a blank response from many followers who don't speak the dead language.
"Unitati christifidelium integre studentes quid iubet Dominus? Orare semper, iustitiam factitare, amare probitatem, humiles Secum ambulare," he wrote for his Latin handle @Pontifex-ln.
This translates as "What does the Lord command to those wholly eager for the unity of those following Christ? To always pray, to continually do justice, to love uprightness, to walk humbly with Him", according to University of Cambridge scholar Tamer Nawar.
The tweet urges his followers to pray always for the reunification of Christian churches, the BBC reports. The Orthodox church has been split from Rome for a millennium and Protestants parted ways with the Vatican in the 16th century.
The Pontiff personally approves the messages that are tweeted in his name in nine languages to his 2.5 million followers and his handle name - Pontifex- means "builder of bridges" in Latin. With just over 5,000 followers, the Pope's Latin Twitter account has the smallest following of all his profiles.
The 85-year-old joined the social media phenomenon a month ago and reportedly beat teen heartthrob Justin Bieber to set a new record for the percentage of his followers who re-tweeted his first Twitter missive, Reuters reported. The Vatican told Reuters that 50 per cent of the Pope's followers re-tweeted his first December 12 message while only 0.7 per cent of the 18-year-old singer's followers re-tweeted his most popular tweet.
Benedict's Latin tweet reflect his keen desire to revive a language that has been phased out in the four decades since Catholic masses have been said in other languages. In November he set up a new department at the Vatican to study and promote Latin.
The Vatican daily L'Osservatore Romano claimed the dead language is perfect for Twitter's 140-characater messages and suits Pope Benedict's aim to use the medium to "reach out to everyone".