"I bless all of you from my heart," Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his first tweet on Wednesday, 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 Twitter.
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, had some 700,000 followers as of 1200 GMT Wednesday.
The Vatican has said the pope will answer questions "about faith and belief" from the public. At least initially, the pope will only tweet on Wednesdays - the same day he holds his weekly public audience at the Vatican.
The 85-year-old pontiff was not following any other Twitter user, aside from the seven other language versions of his account. Papal tweets will come in Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German, Polish, Arabic and French - but not in Latin, the official language of the Catholic Church.
The Vatican has had an official YouTube channel since 2009, while Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the pope's minister of culture, is a keen Twitter user. His account, with entries ranging from Bible excerpts to quotes from John Lennon.
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