The pope has joined Twitter

Claudine Zap
Claudine Zap
The Lookout

Pope Benedict at the Vatican (Max Rossi/Reuters)

Watch out, Justin Bieber. Step aside, Rihanna. You've got competition for groupies: The pope. LOL!

Yes, the pope has a Twitter account. Followers of Pope Benedict will be able to read his 140-character messages under his new handle, @pontifex.

The Vatican's senior media adviser (the Vatican has a media adviser?!), Greg Burke, said at a press conference, "The handle is a good one. It means 'pope,' and it also means 'bridge builder.'"

The Twitter account will launch Dec. 12 and will start by answering questions posed to #askpontifex. While the 85-year-old will post the first tweet,  according to the AP, "Subsequent tweets will be sent by someone in the Vatican's secretariat of state. They will, however, all be approved by the pope, officials said."

The social media account will truly be global, turning out its posts in eight languages: Spanish, English, Italian, Portuguese, German, Polish, Arabic and French.

And although the pope has yet to send out one tweet, he already has 110,000 followers and counting. But don't expect to see the spiritual leader walking around with an iPhone. Burke said, "The pope is not going to be walking around with a BlackBerry or an iPad, and no one is going to be putting words into the pope's mouth. He will tweet what he wants to tweet."

Messages will be spiritual, not personal. Burke added, "The pope wants to reach out to everyone, especially the young."
Underlining his point, "Pope" was a trending topic on Twitter this morning.