Pope gives Twitter his blessing

He only has one tweet to his credit so far, but Benedict XVI made Vatican history this week by becoming the first pope to use Twitter, The Register reports.

The pontiff, posting under the handle @news_va_en, sent a tweet June 28 that announced the launch of a new Vatican Web portal. The site, news.va, will aggregate news about the Vatican from several sources.

Technically, the pope didn't write the tweet himself -- PC Magazine quotes his spokesman, The Rev. Federico Lombardi, as saying "It was prepared for him" -- but the pope did click to send the message when the iPad 2 was presented to him. (The Vatican posted video of the momentous tweet on its YouTube channel.)

Some commentators were not impressed with the pontiff's first foray into social media. Blogger Menachem Wecker of the Houston Chronicle wrote that sending one message does not a tweeter make. "The gimmick is as much breaking news as the pope holding a shovel during a ground breaking," he wrote. "It's staged. Contrived."

However, the response on Twitter was more favorable. The @news_va_en account gained about 22,000 new followers after the pope's tweet was posted.

The Holy Father will not be alone among Twitter users in trying to spread the word about the Good Book. One church worship director from the United Kingdom has announced his intention to tweet the entire Bible, one chapter per day, according to CNN's Belief Blog. He started Aug. 8, 2010, and is expected to work his way up to the end of Revelations, 140 characters at a time, by Nov. 8, 2013.

About the Author

Donald White is an assistant managing editor with 1105 Government Information Group.

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