After struggling with the touch screen of an iPad, Pope Benedict dispatched his first tweet Wednesday. "Dear friends," it read, "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." Sitting in the Vatican hall where he holds his weekly audience, the pontiff, 85, touched the iPad with a wavering hand as the audience applauded. Last week, the Vatican announced that Benedict, who writes in longhand, would begin posting messages on Twitter in eight languages -- Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish -- under the handle @pontifex, a Latin term for pope that means "bridge-builder." The pope gained more than 200,000 followers on Wednesday alone, pushing him above 800,000 in English.
NEW YORK TIMES