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Bulk of Pope's Twitter followers are OFWs

Alluding to the devastation wrought by super-typhoon Yolanda this month, faithful hold a poster reading 'Pray for the Philippines' during a ceremony celebrated by Pope Francis to bless a mosaic dedicated to Filipino St. Pedro Calungsod, in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013. AP/Andrew Medichini

MANILA, Philippines - A good number of Pope Francis' followers on Twitter are overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) concentrated in Islam-dominated Middle East, a Vatican official said on Thursday.

"When the Pope went on Twitter. We can see where in the world the Pope has followers,"  Msgr. Paul Tighe, among the Pope's advisers managing his Twitter account @Pontifex, said in a Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines report.

"We were surprised to see that in the Middle Eastern countries and Gulf states, there were huge following. Then we realized that those were the Filipinos," he added.

Tighe, the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, said that social media have been helpful for Filipino-Catholics abroad to connect with and deepen their faith especially in places when they cannot openly practice it.

"These Filipinos are in a situation that are not easy for Catholics but Twitter is something that allowed them some connection to the Church," he said.

He also urged Filipinos to continue using social media and the Internet to express their spiritual convictions and to boost their identification with the Church.

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Tighe, who arrived in Manila to speak at a Catholic social media conference, said that the OFWs' expressiveness of their catholicity is something he "loves about Filipinos."

Pope Benedict XVI joined Twitter last December and posts inspirational messages in different languages. The main handle @Pontifex is in English. Pope Francis, upon assuming his post, took on the Twitter account that Benedict left.

On Friday, Pope Francis addressed typhoon-stricken Filipinos once again, asking them to ask God 'why' without expecting an answer as children do.

"(Your) sorrow was strong, but also the people were strong," Francis said.

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