Pope Benedict XVI is joining Twitter promising "pearls of wisdom" in eight languages under the handle @pontifex, the Vatican announced overnight, reports AFP on Yahoo7.
Papally-approved tweets will begin next week just in time for Christmas celebrations, as the Catholic Church tries to reach a wider audience and harness social media to woo the Internet generation.
"The first tweets will be answers to questions sent to the pope on matters of faith. The public can start sending them now," Greg Burke, a senior communications adviser to the Vatican, told a packed press conference.
The account carries a picture of the pope waving and its followers rose from around 2,400 at the time of the announcement to more than 24,000 just an hour later - still only a tiny fraction of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics.
An introductory message on the account based in "Vatican City" read: "Welcome to the official Twitter page of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI."
"Pontifex" is a Latin word meaning "pontiff", the pope's official title.
Benedict will only follow his own account in other languages for the moment and there are no plans for a Facebook account yet, Burke said, adding: "Twitter can be more effective than Facebook in passing on the Pope's message."
The tweets will be in Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish and more languages could be added in future.
Several fake Twitter accounts already set up in the pope's name have been used to mock the 85-year-old pontiff, but the Vatican said it was not worried about the risk that hostile messages would be tweeted on the real account.
Pope to start tweeting on Twitter next week (Yahoo7)
Pope reaches out with new Twitter handle (ABC)
Pope's new Twitter account is now active (Vatican Insider)