Cardinals entering the Vatican ahead of a conclave to elect the next pope took to Twitter to say goodbye to their online flock before they are cut off from the outside world.
“Last tweet before conclave: May Our Father hear and answer with love and mercy all prayers and sacrifices offered for fruitful outcome. God bless!” South African cardinal Wilfrid Napier told his thousands of followers.
Cardinals will be completely isolated inside the Vatican walls for the duration of the conclave, which could last up to a few days.
Jamming devices in the Sistine Chapel block all communications and the Vatican has said anyone caught tweeting will be excommunicated.
Before moving to the Vatican residence where the 115 cardinal electors will eat and sleep during the conclave, US cardinal Roger Mahony wrote: “Last tweet before moving to Casa Santa Martha, and mass to elect a pope.
“First conclave meeting late Tuesday afternoon. Prayers needed,” he said.
Pierre Durieux, spokesman for France’s Philippe Barbarin, tweeted to say that the three French cardinals had entered the Vatican and now: “A big silence”.
Sister Mary Ann Walsh, spokeswoman for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, expressed concern on her account saying: “In this electronic age, I worry some cardinals may go into iPad and Twitter withdrawal.”
[Image via Agence France-Presse]