London - There have been few more significant events in the history of cyberspace than the arrival this week of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on the social network site Twitter. Soon, it is reported, the Pontiff will be communicating with his flock through brief messages sent to devices around the world.
There were worries that this medium of tweeting - short, chatty and instant - would not suit the Pope's more leisurely style, and it is certainly true that the @pontifex account has made something of a slow start. After several hours, there was not a single message transmitted. His Holiness was said to be following seven other accounts, but they all turned out to be himself in different languages.
'Twitter is the last of the Big Four to go public.'
Fortunately, with the help of a new website specialising in predictive text, we are able to anticipate the pontiff's first forays into the world of social media:
@pontifex I would like to welcome men, women and, most of all, children all over the world to my Twitter account. Credo sancto Ecclesi
Forgive me, people of the world. My staff tell me I am permitted only 140 characters. With no exception for the Vicar of Christ! #odd
Over 100,000 followers in three hours. Benedictus Deus. And, no, I shall not be describing them as “disciples” ;)
Thanks for the follow @bishopofdurham and congrats on the new job. Are u the first Justin to be Arch of Canterbury?
No, @bishopofdurham. Regret I am unable to follow you back. Pontiffs don't follow, it's the rule. We lead. I'll tell you about it some time.
When we're bored, we sometimes make the Latin up as we go along lol. #secretsofthevatican
I should like to thank tweeps across the world for their prayers and thoughts *little papal wave & humble smile*. #holytweet
Thanks @RichardDawkins for following. Not sure what you mean by “pathetic fairy story” but I wish you well whoever you are.
It's not a frock @Richard Dawkins it's a habit. And I'm not “a leering old villain”. Bless you for your thoughts. The Lord loves a joker!
Here's something we don't often admit. When hearing confessions, priests often have a single thought: TMI!!! #keepitclean
I regret that I am unable to conduct online confessions, however “hot” they may happen to be.
Breaking news. The Vatican techies have only come up with a Twitter prayer! Watch this space. Comin' back at ya, @RichardDawkins!!!
Congratulations @annwiddecombe, on becoming my 1 millionth follower *puts on humble-but-happy face*.
Are you a real lord @LordSugar? I regret I've never heard of you and do not understand why you say 'You're fired'.
Life is like Serie A football. Keep it simple. Ball to feet. Play the way you're facing. Don't argue with the ref. Goooaaalll! :)
Twitter prayer: defende nos, O Twitter, proelio contra nequitiam et malivolos anima, et maxima retweetes!! Amen.
#secretsofthevatican When @CardinalBetori followed me on to Twitter, he thought xxx stood for 3 crucifixes! #notpopematerial
I hate how I'm really tired on Sundays and that's the day I have to work harder than ever :(
A lot of my followers keep asking me really heavy stuff about families and that. To them I say: love is all around, let the feeling grow.
Could I just remind tweeps that @Madonna has nothing whatsoever to do with Our Lady. Do NOT visit her site! #putitawaymadge
Sorry @piersmorgan, I have no recollection of having “hung out” with you in Monterey, nor being hugged by you at the Oscars.
Seriously, there are some unhelpful accounts on Twitter. Like @god, @jesus, @holyghost. Who's in charge round here? Only asking.
#secretsofthevatican. Psst, now and then the whole patron saint can be a leedle bit skanky! Shall we just say, a contribution goes a long way;)
I have decided to block anyone who mentions: a) the nazi party; b) things allegedly done by priests (talk to the hand!); c) @RichardDawkins.
Actually @jonathanross, there are a whole lot of Christian rock stars. Katy Perry, Alice Cooper. Bob Dylan (sometimes).
Inside knowledge: a little angel tells me that Christopher Hitchens is “in another place” (slightly hotter). #whatgoesaround
#secretsofthevatican. The popemobile has a built-in toilet with deluxe self-warm seat. Bliss.
Some tweeps have said my Twitter account is making the Church seem trivial and childish. Er, I don't think so! Lighten up, guys ;)
You've probably seen it but you've got to look at this amazing video of a cat playing the piano. Soooo cute. #thankyougod - The Independent