Pope breaks Twitter silence

Dylan Stableford
The Lookout

The pope has broken his social media silence, issuing the first tweet since the Vatican announced his impending retirement.

But the tweet—published from Pope Benedict XVI's verified Twitter account on Wednesday—made no mention of the announcement or the future of the papal post, focusing instead on the start of Lent and the traditional preparation for Easter.

"During the season of Lent which begins today, we renew our commitment to the path of conversion, making more room for God in our lives," the pope tweeted to the more than 1.5 million followers of his @Pontifex handle.

The tweet, his first since Sunday, was retweeted more than 6,000 times. (It was also translated and issued from Benedict's Arabic, French, Italian, Polish, Portugese, Spanish, German and Latin accounts.)

The pope joined Twitter in December.

On Monday, Benedict said he was resigning because he does not have the physical strength necessary to do the job.

"After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry," the pope said in a statement.

Benedict, 85, will become the first pontiff to resign since the 15th century. He steps down on Feb. 28.

The pope also made his first public appearance since the retirement announcement, giving a traditional catechism lesson on Wednesday in the Vatican's main audience hall.

"As you know, I have decided to renounce the ministry that the Lord gave to me on April 19, 2005," he said, according to the Associated Press. "I did this in full liberty for the good of the church."

Later Wednesday, Benedict is scheduled to preside over Ash Wednesday services at St. Peter's Basilica to mark the official start of the Catholic Church's solemn Lenten season.