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The official Twitter account of Pope Benedict XVI. / Twitter
One of the final tweets from Pope Benedict XVI's official @Pontifex account was issued Wednesday, just moments after he left the alter in St. Peter's Square where he gave his last public address (video) as pontiff.
Benedict said in his 38th tweet that he wished "everyone could experience the joy of being Christian."
If only everyone could experience the joy of being Christian, being loved by God who gave his Son for us!— Benedict XVI (@Pontifex) February 27, 2013
The @Pontifex account was to be shut down, as Benedict was poised to become on Thursday the first pontiff in more than 600 years to retire from the position at the helm of the Roman Catholic Church.
The pope sent his first tweet in 2011 from a Vatican account to launch the Holy See's news information portal. But in the wake of the Church's maligned handling of the child sexual abuse scandal, the Vatican hand-picked Fox News journalist Greg Burke to be its new communications adviser, and with his guidance, it launched Benedict's own account.
Burke told a press conference in December 2012 -- announcing the new social media initiative as an effort to reach out to a younger audience -- that @Pontifex was chosen for the pope's account because it not only means pope in Latin, but also bridge-builder, suggesting unity.
Benedict garnered some 1.5 million Twitter followers in just six weeks. Vatican officials have acknowledged the pope did not actually type the Twitter messages and that someone in the Vatican's secretariat of state writes them on his behalf.
In January, the pope used the account to give a shout-out to an anti-abortion rally in Washington, tweeting that politicians should protect the unborn and "promote a culture of life."