Pope Benedict XVI sent out his first tweet on Tuesday, to announce the launch of the new Vatican site, according to CNN.
The message was short and to the point, as Twitter demands with its character limit, according to Time: "Dear Friends, I just launched News.va Praised be our Lord Jesus Christ! With my prayers and blessings, Benedictus XVI."
The pope tweeted on the Vatican's English-language Twitter account @news_va_en, and also posted it via the Vatican's French Twitter feed, in French.
Benedict, who at the age of 84 still writes his speeches by hand rather than use a computer, had a little help from his friends: someone else typed the message for him to send, but he did the sending, from an Apple iPad, Bloomberg News reported.
According to CNN:
"The pope sent it, but it was prepared for him," Benedict's spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi. "The tablet was presented to him. He did the click and sent the tweet."
The pope had 15,000 followers within three hours of his Twitter debut, and that number continued to climb.
The Vatican already has an established web presence, and has launched an iPhone app and a Facebook page for the beatification of Pope John Paul II this year. The Vatican's current website, www.vatican.va, will remain in place, with general information about the Holy See, important Vatican documents and offices, and papal activities.
President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, who was with the Pope for the historic tweet, has pushed for an increased technological presence to keep the church socially relevant and to reach out to younger people, according to Time.
The new Vatican website, News.va, brings together information from the Vatican's print, online, radio and television media outlets, a big step for the Holy See, and one that marks a new direction in the Vatican's communications outreach. It will be more news-based than the existing site, aggregating in one location the currently spread-out web presence of Vatican media, according to Fox News. On Tuesday, the day of the launch, the site displayed a flickr photo feed of the pope preparing to use the iPad, and a video of him sending the tweet.
According to Fox News, "This is a beginning, in a simple way, of allowing the pope to interact with the questions of people and allowing people a direct form of access to the pope," said Monsignor Paul Tighe, the No. 2 in the Vatican's social communications office. "With time we'll see how different initiatives can develop, but the commitment there is to interactivity, to engagement."