Pope Benedict XVI Joins Twitter

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Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi made the announcement Thursday. Regular updates will be coming by the end of the year.

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“Dear Friends, I just launched News.va,” the Pope said through an iPad tablet device. “Praised be our Lord Jesus Christ! With my prayers and blessings, Benedictus XVI.”

Twitter allows users to broadcast to their followers short messages of 140 characters called tweets. The site has particularly caught on among news outlets and celebrities. The growth of the Vatican’s English-language Twitter channel, “news_va_en,” was massive compared to the Vatican’s Twitter accounts in other languages. The Spanish-language channel has about 11,000 followers, while the Italian-language channel sits at only 3,500.

The 85-year-old Benedict sent his first tweet from a Vatican account last year when he launched the Vatican’s news information portal, aimed at the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics. The new Twitter account will be his own, though it’s doubtful Benedict himself will wrestle down his encyclicals, apostolic exhortations and other papal pronouncements into 140-character bites.

Here is just a sample of his recent tweets:

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