When I heard that Pope Benedict XVI opened a Twitter account my first thought was not positive. In fact it was more panic than prayer: What are you thinking, Holy Father?! The wolves on Twitter will rip you apart!
Sometimes fears are well founded. Before a creature was twittering in the Papal household, insults began flowing in like floodwaters bursting though broken levees (you can flip through all the tweets that mention “pontifex” by clicking here – some of them are tough). It was evident that not everyone wanted the Pope to be keystrokes away. Or maybe in a strange way they did, because without this nearness no one could have tossed these cold barbs directly at him, expecting him to hear (and be wounded by?) them.
To my family, the Pope, despite being a white guy, is more family than family. He’s like our grandfather, and the idea of taunting and mocking our 85-year-old grandfather just doesn’t enter our imagination. Which is why it hurts – even made me angry. The only thing I could think to do was, through the insults and vulgarities, to pray some Angry Prayers.
Once I got started down the road of praying through my own reactions, something strange happened — I started to get the sense that, in some strange way, all these angry tweeters were praying angry prayers themselves. Maybe that’s giving some of these too much credit, but I’d rather err on that side than the other, and when read with compassion, I felt like many of them were petitioning for something themselves. So, I started praying not just against them, but with them.
What came out, for better or worse, was a little psalm. Fair warning: some of the tweets were not easy to read. Still, I entrust it to your good hearts.
God, I am angry with You for not existing, or for existing without listening.
But I see @pontifex has responded to his followers has many times as god has. #atheist #atheistrollcall
— D V AthEIst (@Dave998629) December 4, 2012
The pope — @pontifex — joins Twitter. “He won’t follow anyone for now. He will be followed.”nyti.ms/SGMiOa
— Ashley Parker(@AshleyRParker) December 4, 2012
Hey @pontifex, if you retweet me or follow @triviumofficial I will go back to church this weeekend.
— Paolo Gregoletto (@TriviumPaolo) December 3, 2012
Yet in bone chilling, soul aching, body shaking desperation, I cry my needs to You day and night because only Your Silence is awake at this time.
500,000 followers for the pope yet not a word yet from the big fella. Sounds like religion to me. #atheism @pontifex
— Godless Atheist (@GodlessAtheist) December 6, 2012
#faiunadomandaalpapa @pontifex why you keep hiding pedophile priests in the Vatican, and do not judge them by the competent authorities?
— 2BOH_Official (@2BrothersofHard) December 5, 2012
Every time a homosexual child ends his life remind @pontifex he’s in large part responsible. #endhate
— Unforeseen (@Handovertweets) December 4, 2012
@pontifex ~ leader of the largest criminal organisation in history
— Rob Anderson (@iotaweb) December 5, 2012
Even in my own agony I lift up my eyes and see that you have abandoned the ones closest to You.
RT: @pontifex Isn’t it great that my car is gold plated and thousands of people die of poverty related causes daily? LOL
— BICURÎOUS HAMST€R™ (@gurl_sour) December 4, 2012
#askpontifex Dear @pontifex why don’t you sell all the gold of Vatican and feed the hungry children with that money?
— Karapandza (@karapandza) December 4, 2012
The more I hate You for being so far away, the closer You draw near. The closer You draw near, the further I try to push you away.
Now that @pontifex is on Twitter he can finally claim to speak with me directly. (Ix-nay on the ape-ray of ids-kay.)
— almightygod (@almightygod) December 4, 2012
You are not God’s messenger. He doesn’t exist. Give the money to the poor and apologise for everything @pontifex #catholic #pope
— Martin (@woobasher) December 3, 2012
Sent @pontifex my strategy for Twitter success: cynicism, vulgarity and Silvio jokes. #foolproof
— Angela Merkel (not) (@Queen_Europe) December 3, 2012
And when You finally tweet me Your Word, I will silence It, waiting for another.
My New Years resolution is to be B L O C K E D by @pontifex I will gain like 1000 #AtheistPowerPoints And unlock the SwordOfReason
— AthεσPяiεstεss(@ThinkingBeauty_) December 4, 2012
For every 60 followers of @justinbieber the @pontifex has 1. And you thought I was weird for wanting to be blessed by Justin Bieber.
— Unforeseen (@Handovertweets) December 6, 2012
Come on Ratzinger, just tweet a kitten picture or something. It gets easier from there. @pontifex
— Angela Merkel (not) (@Queen_Europe) December 4, 2012
The Pope himself has said that insults can lead to the Church’s purification; now @Pontifex can take all the sentiments twittered at him and keep them close to his heart as he offers up his prayers.
Strange as it may be, writing this prayer and praying with all this anger made me hope no one deletes these “prayers” before they reach Pope Benedict’s ears.
@pontifex i’ll be praying for you if and when you read those #bittertweets
— Quang D. Tran, S.J. (@LeMeTellUSumtin) December 11, 2012