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Abbot Peter Novecosky, OSB


Abbot Peter Novecosky

Pope’s Twitter account popular

Pope Francis is known for reaching out to people at the periphery. Perhaps that explains the popularity of his Twitter account.

His @Pontifex Twitter accounts reached more than 40 million followers just a few months before the fifth anniversary of when Pope Benedict XVI launched the initiative. The papal Twitter accounts, in nine different languages, have grown by over nine million followers in the past 12 months, representing the interest and attention of “the people — ordinary people, Christians and non-Christians, political leaders — for the Holy Father’s tweets,” the Vatican Secretariat for Communication said in mid-October.

“Every day, through his tweets, Pope Francis makes himself available to men and women through social media, at times offering a spiritual thought,” said Msgr. Dario Vigano, the secretariat’s prefect. At other times he shares a reflection on events of significance for the international community.

Even though the pope admits he is not savvy about new technologies, Vigano said, he knows that the web is “a network not of wires but of people.”

The @Pontifex accounts had the second-most followers among world leaders, only 200,000 followers behind the U.S. president, @realDonaldTrump. Trump’s account exceeds the 40.3 million mark, maintaining a tight lead over the Holy Father.

Among world leaders, Pope Francis is ranked the most influential because of his average of 41,000 retweets. Nor does he just rely on his staff to write his tweets. He “closely and carefully checks all the tweets,” Vigano noted.

The pope also communicates digitally via Instagram, the social image channel. His account, @Franciscus, is approaching five million followers since its creation March 19, 2015. The majority of Instagram followers are between the ages of 25 - 34, with the United States and Brazil being the countries where it is most followed.

While Pope John Paul II inaugurated a new papal tradition by travelling the world with his message, Pope Francis is inaugurating a new tradition of evangelizing in the digital age.

Poverty in Canada

The United Nations observed International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on Oct. 17. The program promotes the need to eradicate poverty and destitution worldwide, particularly in developing countries.

The movement is traced back to Oct. 17, 1987, when more than 100,000 people gathered in Paris, France, to honour the victims of extreme poverty, violence and hunger.

Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ) noted in its annual report on poverty in Canada that there are 4.8 million people in Canada who live in poverty, says Joe Gunn, CPJ executive director and Prairie Messenger columnist.

Its Poverty Trends 2017 identifies several key demographics of people that have high poverty rates including single working-age adults, children in single-parent families, and newcomers to Canada.

There are 14.7 per cent of working-age adults who live in poverty; 42.9 per cent if they are single. Single-parent families, usually female-led, also have high poverty rates (32.4 per cent) as do people with disabilities (23 per cent), indigenous people (25.3 per cent) and refugees (34.2 per cent).

Personal charity won’t be enough to change the situation. Government policies will be needed.