VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has passed 10 million followers across nine language accounts on the popular social-media network Twitter, where users publish messages of 140 characters or fewer. The only world leader with a greater number of followers on Twitter is U.S. President Barack Obama.
On Oct. 27, Pope Francis tweeted, “Dear Followers I understand there are now over 10 million of you! I thank you with all my heart and ask you to continue praying for me.”
As of Oct. 29, the papal Twitter @Pontifex accounts had a total of 10,070,848 followers. The most popular account is the Spanish-language one, with more than 4 million followers. The English-language account comes in second, with 3.1 million followers.
Papal Twitter accounts have also been established in Arabic, French, German, Italian, Latin, Portuguese and Polish.
In July, Pope Francis was named “the most influential world leader on Twitter” in a global communications report by Burson-Marsteller, a Switzerland-based public relations and communications firm.
The report found that Pope Francis’ Spanish-language tweets were re-tweeted an average of 11,116 times. His English-language tweets were re-tweeted an average 8,219 times.
His closest competitor by this measure was U.S. President Barack Obama, whose tweets were re-tweeted on average 2,309 times.
The Pope is also the second-most-followed world leader on Twitter, after President Obama, who ranks first, with 39 million followers.
The official @Pontifex Twitter accounts were launched last December by Benedict XVI, who amassed 2.5 million followers during his first month on Twitter and built a following of several million before his resignation at the end of February 2013.
Pope Francis continued Benedict’s practice of sending short messages reflecting on Jesus and the Christian life after his March 13 election to the papacy. His tweets include prayers and short passages from his homilies.
Claire Diaz Ortiz, manager of social innovation at Twitter, told CNA in January that the Pope’s ability to connect with his flock on Twitter “is an inspiring fact for believers everywhere.”
She described the multiple language accounts as “wonderful examples of how one leader can connect in many different languages with Twitter followers throughout the world.”