For the first time, His Holiness the Pope has made a Twitter footprint. Make that a fingerprint, since he pushed click himself to send the very first Papal tweet this afternoon. Short and sweet, his message even had 23 characters to spare: “Dear Friends, I just launched News.va Praised be our Lord Jesus Christ! With my prayers and blessings, Benedictus XVI.”
But not only did Benedict post his tweet on the Vatican’s English-language Twitter account @news_va_en, he also cross-posted it via the Vatican’s French Twitter feed. Same message, only this time, “Avec mes prières et bénédictions!” And, drumroll please, he tweeted from his iPad. (Apple: how did you get that perfect product placement?) Certainly he must have Twitter users everywhere craving his popularity. His follower-count is sure to skyrocket — the Catholic church is already the world’s largest, with over 1.1 billion adherents.
(PHOTOS: Pope Benedict XVI in the U.K.)
The tweet launched the Vatican’s new news portal, a site that, for the first time, brings together information from the Vatican’s print, online, radio and television media outlets. This is a huge step for the Holy See, and one that marks a new page in the Vatican’s communication push. President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, who was at the Pope’s side for today’s historic internet event, has advocated for an increased technological presence to keep the church socially relevant. The Vatican made similar advances when it launched a “Pope2You” app and a Facebook page for the beatification of the late Pope John Paul II.
What’s next? Direct Twitter message blessings? Laying on of hands via Skype? Maybe, maybe not. In the past Benedict has cautioned, “It is important to remember that virtual contact cannot and must not take the place of direct human contact with people at every level of our lives.”
For now, tomorrow is the 60th anniversary of Benedict’s ordination as a priest. NewsFeed already has our tweet planned: “@news_va_en Happy anniversary B16! Oh, and P.S: Try Angry Birds on your new iPad!”