(Photo: Reuters / Osservatore Romano)
Pope Benedict XVI has officially joined the Twitter generation with his first ever tweet today – and on an iPad no less.
The Pope used his first 140 characters to announce the launch of a brand new online portal where visitors can find all the latest news from the Vatican.
“Dear Friends, I just launched News.va Praised be our Lord Jesus Christ! With my prayers and blessings, Benedictus XVI,” he tweeted.
The Vatican portal will provide live streams of papal events and audio feeds from Vatican radio, as well as feature photographs and the Pope’s latest homilies and speeches.
The portal has been launched in English and Italian but there are plans to make content available in other languages in the future.
Thaddeus Jones, project coordinator and an official with the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, told The Guardian: “He was clearly in awe at the new technology.
“It's a lighter moment but also an important one, it marks a new way of communicating.”
The Pope’s Twitter account takes the Vatican’s engagement with social media one step further. It already has a presence on YouTube and Facebook.
His Twitter debut and the launch of the portal also coincide with the 60th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.
Pope Benedict has previously spoken of the importance of using new technology. On World Communications Day this year, he said it provided “unprecedented opportunities for establishing relationships and building fellowship.”
He also warned against the downside, however, saying that “virtual contact cannot and must not take the place of direct human contact with people at every level of our lives.”