Vatican says pope beats Justin Bieber on re-tweets

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December 21, 2012 4:00 AM EST

Pope Benedict, white-haired, 85, and a neophyte to social media site Twitter, has beaten out 18-year old heartthrob Justin Bieber to set a percentage record for re-tweeting by his followers, the Vatican said on Thursday.

The Vatican newspaper said that as of noon Italian time on Thursday the pope had 2.1 million followers on Twitter, eight days after his first tweet was sent.

While Canadian singer-songwriter Bieber has roughly 15 times as many followers - 31.7 million - the Vatican newspaper said Benedict had beaten Bieber on re-tweets.

It said about 50 percent of the pope's followers had re-tweeted his first tweet on December 12 while only 0.7 percent of Bieber's followers had re-tweeted one of the singer's most popular tweets on September 26, when he commented on the death by cancer of a six-year-old fan.

The Vatican said this was part of a wider trend in which people were looking for more spiritual content.

The pope already tweets in English, German, Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish and Arabic. The newspaper said he will start tweeting in Latin and Chinese soon.

(Reporting By Philip Pullella, editing by Paul Casciato)

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Copyright 2012 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

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