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Pope Benedict Tops 1,000 Facebook Friends
VATICAN, Rome (CAP) - Officials for the social media website Facebook report that Pope Benedict XVI, an ardent user of the online service since late last year, has surpassed 1,000 friends, less than 80 percent of which admit to being Catholic on their Profile pages. The Pope celebrated by passing virtual drinks to each of them.
"He really is a great guy once you get to know him," said Dania, Fla. resident Lawrence Mankin, who became friends with the Pope via the People You May Know tool. "I still can't beat him in Wordscraper, though; he has quite the vocabulary."
According to Mankin and some of the Pope's other friends with whom CAP News spoke, the Pontiff is a self-professed Parking Wars junkie and has personally saved over 75 square feet of rainforest using (Lil) Green Patch. However, his recent decision to join the "I know there was a Holocaust and defy anyone to tell me otherwise" group caused quite a stir among its members, in the wake of the Pope's decision to rescind the excommunication of a bishop who suggested no Jews died in Nazi gas chambers.
"But that's only half the story," said one Pope friend who asked not to be identified. "When he recently sent wedgies out to his friends, you'll notice he only sent them to people who have Judaism listed on their Profile page.
"And he sent me a Melvin, no less," the friend added. "Could he be any more insulting to Jews?"
Facebook officials confirmed that anyone seeking to befriend the Pope does have to install the Kiss My Ring application, but joining his Circle Of Bishops group is not mandatory. According to Pope Benedict's blog, he had tried MySpace first, but left after realizing that most of his friends were young, single females who simply wanted to share pictures with him. His blog also warned about people substituting Internet friendships for real-life ones.
"If the desire for virtual connectedness becomes obsessive, it may in fact function to isolate individuals from real social interactions that are necessary for healthy human development," the Pope wrote. "With that said, I did check out Mandy's website as she recommended and found it to be informative and entertaining.
"I'm guessing it takes years of training to do that with one's legs," the Pope noted.
The Pope's personal Facebook page is not associated with any of the fan pages created by his Catholic followers, the largest of which boasts over 30,000 members. Social media experts also say the pontiff isn't the first high-ranking religious figure to have such an online presence, as witnessed by the 50,000 followers that God has on Twitter.
"All of this just raises more questions than answers," said CAP News religious expert Don Novello. "What if you follow God on Twitter, and He doesn't follow you back? Really makes you rethink your life direction."
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