Jorge Mario Bergoglio becomes Pope Francis — on Twitter?!

Screen capture showing the Twitter head of @JMBergoglio.
Screen capture showing the Twitter head of @JMBergoglio.

Screen capture showing the @JMBergoglio Twitter account, apparently the personal account of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires. Bergoglio succeeded Pope Benedict XVI as Pope Francis and it appears the 76-year-old Jesuit announced his own papal election on Twitter.

At 8:22 p.m. Vatican time today (2:22 p.m. CT), “Inmensamente feliz de ser el nuevo Papa, Francisco I” (English translation: “Immensely happy to be the new Pope, Francis I”) was posted on what appears to be Archbishop of Buenos Aires Jorge Bergoglio’s personal Twitter account (@JMBergoglio):

Eleven minutes later, “HABEMUS PAPAM FRANCISCUM” (“We have Pope Francis”) was tweeted from the official papal account managed by the Vatican (@Pontifex):

The @JMBergoglio account had 86,199 Twitter followers and was following 1,599 others when I discovered it, approximately 45 minutes after the new pope was announced. Followers are at 128,283 139,767 now and growing by the minute; the account also started following one more person less than an hour after Bergoglio became pontiff.

Expect Pope Francis, 76, to be much more active in social media than Benedict XVI was.

The newly-elected pope also appears to have a personal Facebook profile with 56 friends. According to the Facebook profile, Bergoglio attended “escuela secundaria industrial,” which translates to “industrial school” in English.

It’s hard to know for sure if these two social media accounts actually belong to Bergoglio, but the accounts are linked (as evidenced by the Facebook profile puking out tweets from @JMBergoglio on its Timeline) and contextual clues seem to confirm they do belong to the newly-elected Pope Francis.

The Vatican made news in December 2012 by creating the @Pontifex Twitter account as an official social media outlet for Pope Benedict XVI. The first papal tweet was posted on Dec. 12, 2012: “Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart.”

Pope Benedict XVI, the former Cardinal Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger of Austria, pumped out 39 tweets before his papacy ended on Feb. 28, 2013. Citing declining health, Benedict announced Feb. 11, 2013 he would step down as pope at the end of the month.

Benedict has since become known as “pope emeritus.” Church officials chose to remove his tweets from the @Pontifex Twitter account, archiving them all on a Vatican website.

UPDATE (3/13/2013 @ 18:09 CT): The @JMBergoglio Twitter account has now been suspended. Knowing how persnickety Twitter can be, though, it doesn’t necessarily mean it didn’t belong to the new pope. The JMBergoglio Facebook profile now has 57 friends.

I'm a Mid-South photojournalist, Kentucky writer and digital media consultant (or eNinja™). Circle me on Google Plus at, follow me on Twitter at @surattb and Instagram me at @BillySuratt. Got a news tip or suggestion about some journalism that needs committed? Email (discretion is always guaranteed).

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