Pope Francis reaches Twitter milestone, with more than 40 million followers

Pope Francis gestures as he leaves his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Oct. 11. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) Pope Francis gestures as he leaves his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Oct. 11. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) 

President Trump became Twitter’s most followed global leader last month, knocking off Pope Francis, who previously held the title. But Vatican Radio announced today that Pope Francis has passed the 40 million followers mark, which appears for now to tie him with the U.S. president.

Vatican Radio reported Wednesday that 40.3 million Twitter accounts follow Pope Francis’ nine different language accounts, which include English, Spanish, Latin and even Arabic.

Advertisement

“Forty million followers means 40 million people, 40 million hearts, minds, and passions,” Msgr. Dario Viganò, head of the Vatican’s communications office, told Vatican Radio.

While the pope does not hit send on his own tweets, Msgr. Vigano said, he personally approves each message before it is published and sometimes chooses which themes and subjects he would like highlighted. He has tweeted about subjects ranging from Jesus and the Gospels to the World Cup and human trafficking.

“Forty million followers means 40 million people, 40 million hearts, minds, and passions.”

During Pope Francis’ four and a half years in office, the number of followers has grown from about three million, who followed Pope Benedict XVI, to the more than 40 million today. Early on, Pope Francis would publish two or three tweets each week, usually snippets from homilies or speeches. More recently, he tweets almost daily, often a call to work for peace or a short reflection on a saint, including a tweet he sent earlier today:

The pope is also on Instagram, where he shares photos and videos with his nearly five million followers. When the account launched last year, Pope Francis set a record by collecting one million followers in just 12 hours, a record previously held by soccer superstar David Beckham.

Last month, Twitter rolled out a pilot program that allows some users to use 280 characters in each tweet, double the 140 character limit that was a feature of the original product when it launched in 2006.

And while the pope and the president continue to use Twitter to advance their agendas, it appears that at least for now, they are each still limited to the 140-character format.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

The appointments are part of an ongoing effort to give a greater role to women in the work of the Roman Curia offices, the central administration of the Catholic church.
Gerard O’ConnellApril 21, 2018
Ivette Escobar, a student at Central American University in San Salvador, helps finish a rug in honor of the victims in the 1989 murder of six Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter on the UCA campus, part of the 25th anniversary commemoration of the Jesuit martyrs in 2014. (CNS photo/Edgardo Ayala) 
A human rights attorney in the United States believes that the upcoming canonization of Blessed Oscar Romero in October has been a factor in a decision to revisit the 1989 Jesuit massacre at the University of Central America.
Kevin ClarkeApril 20, 2018
Journalists photograph the lethal injection facility at San Quentin State Prison in California in 2010. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)
In California, Catholic opponents of the death penalty are trying to protect the largest population of inmates awaiting execution in the Western Hemisphere.
Jim McDermottApril 20, 2018
Photo: the Hank Center at Loyola University Chicago
Bishop McElroy said that Catholics must embrace “the virtues of solidarity, compassion, integrity, hope and peace-building.”