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Papal Tweets: Santa Clara University Religious Studies Professor Available for Discussion, Analysis


With the Pope Benedict XVI's first Tweet expected to be issued Wednesday, Dec. 12, the author of the book Tweet if you (Heart) Jesus, says a number of questions are emerging about the role of this new medium for the Catholic Church's top official.

“Social media is an extremely unfiltered form of interaction,” said Elizabeth Drescher, who teaches religion and pastoral ministries at Santa Clara University, and is the author of two recent books on the intersection of religion and new media, Tweet if you (Heart) Jesus: Practicing Church in the Digital Reformation and Click 2 Save: The Digital Ministry Bible (with Keith Anderson).

“This is extremely different than any other form of communication – encyclicals, papal audiences, or speeches – that are the usual papal communication vehicles. The dozens of church leaders I've interviewed who use social media most effectively are highly approachable and attentive to the interests and concerns of laity in particular. We'll have to see if Twitter changes the Pope, or if the Pope changes Twitter.”

Prof. Drescher can discuss:

*The potential role of papal Tweets to Catholic faithful, other religious leaders, and to the Twitterspere.

* How Twitter and other social media are used in religion today.

*The question of whether the Pope's Tweets will form a new sort of “sacred text.”

*How the interactivity of Twitter is and is not suited to a figure such as the Pope.

*How the Pope's Twitter handle for outreach, @askpontifex, is creating reactions and opportunism along predictable dividing lines.

*How the Pope could best use Twitter, based on her research into effective social media in churches nationwide.

Prof. Drescher is reachable at or via Deborah Lohse of SCU Media Relations, or 408-554-5121.

Deborah Lohse, 408-554-5121
Media Relations

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