Pope “Tweets” New Vatican News Website
Pope Benedict XVI has tweeted for the first time, announcing the launch of a Vatican news information portal.
Benedict's tweet on Tuesday read: "Dear Friends, I just launched News.va. Praised be our Lord Jesus Christ! With my prayers and blessings, Benedictus XVI".
The portal for the first time aggregates information from the Vatican's various print, online, radio and television media.
It's the latest effort by the Vatican to bring its evangelising message to a greater, internet-savvy audience and follows forays into Facebook and YouTube.
The pope put the site online himself by tapping an iPad, said Thaddeus Jones, project co-ordinator and an official with the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. Moments later the pope sent the tweet.
The 84-year-old pontiff was then shown the portal and its features in greater detail. Jones described him as "interested and impressed", and "clearly enjoying it."
"He was clearly in awe at the new technology," said Jones. "It's a lighter moment but also an important one, it marks a new way of communicating."
Benedict has been bedeviled by communications woes during much of his six-year papacy, much of it the fault of a large Vatican bureaucracy that doesn't always communicate well internally.
Officials hope the new portal, while mostly designed to provide Vatican news in a user-friendly setting to the outside world, might also improve the Vatican's own internal communications by sharing information.
The portal was launched for the feast day of St Peter and Paul, which falls on 29 June but officially begins with a vesper service on 28 June. Wednesday also marks the 60th anniversary of Benedict's ordination as a priest.