VATICAN CITY – With tech-savvy cardinals at his side offering a hand, Pope Benedict XVI wrote his first tweet on Wednesday and one hour later answered his first question from the public on Twitter.
The Vatican has said the pope will answer questions “about faith and belief” from the public. The pope initially will only tweet on Wednesdays – the same day he holds his weekly public audience at the Vatican.
The first public question was tweeted soon after the pontiff introduced himself to the Twitter world: “How can we celebrate the Year of Faith better in our daily lives?”
The pope answered: “By speaking with Jesus in prayer, listening to what he tells you in the Gospel and looking for him in those in need.”
One hour earlier, Benedict had written his first tweet, part of the Catholic Church’s attempt to attract a new audience of believers through social media.
“Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart,” wrote the pontiff on the micro-blogging website.
Pictures showed the pope using an iPad tablet to send out his blessing.
The English version of the papal account, which has the Twitter handle Pontifex, surpassed the 1-million-follower mark Wednesday.
Papal tweets will also come in Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German, Polish, Arabic and French – but not in Latin, the official language of the Catholic Church.
The 85-year-old pope naturally is not an Internet veteran, papal spokesman Federico Lombardi said, “but he understands its wide reach and possibilities.”