Pope Benedict XVI announced a new Vatican website this week via his first Twitter post, sent from an Apple iPad. But you won't be able to follow him on Twitter, and he probably won't be following you.

From the iPad's touchscreen, the multilingual Pontiff fired off a previously prepared tweet in English: "Dear Friends, I just launched News.va Praised be our Lord Jesus Christ! With my prayers and blessings, Benedictus XVI." 

A Youtube video in Italian shows the Pope arriving at an office, presumably in the Vatican, and sitting at a desk with the iPad resting on what seems to be a pillow. He's surrounded by unidentified Vatican officials and clerics, one of whom introduces the Pope to the iPad's touch interface. Shortly after he presses a large "publish" button to activate the new website, news.va, and then he's introduced to Twitter.

From the edited video, it appears that the tweet was already written for the Pontiff, and his technology guide is heard to urge him to press "send."

The tweet was actually from the new website's twitter account. News.va is intended to be a single location for Vatican related news, events and appointments. The portal offers audio and video streaming and high quality images, along with its Twitter feed "providing instant news headlines to smartphones and other mobile devices." It also includes:

  • The feed from the Vatican's Fide News Agency, which focuses on news and information, photos and video about the Church's missionary activities around the world;
  • L'Osservatore Romano, the Holy See's "semi-official" newspaper (daily and weekly in Italian, weekly in English and other languages), which covers the Pope's public activities, publishes official documents when they are released, and includes editorials by key churchmen;
  • The Holy See Press Office, which among other things, publishes the official news of the activities of the Pope and of the various departments of the Holy See;
  • The Vatican Information Service, the Press Office's news service, which provides official information about the Magisterium, and the pastoral activities of the Pope and the Roman Curia;
  • Vatican Radio;
  • Vatican Television Centre, known as CTV for its Italian name, Centro Televisivo Vaticano, which provides video of the activities of the Pope and the Roman Curia, and makes it available to Church and secular news organisations.

News.va is distinct, and distinctively different, from the main Vatican website, which contains several archives of Papal and Church papers, encyclicals, speeches, sermons and the like, as well as information about the Vatican City State, upcoming events and of course the Secret Vatican Archives.