Pope appeals to Twitter generation

In its latest move to embrace social media and the age of digital technology, the Vatican has announced a new Twitter account to share the Pope's messages.

The Pontifical Council for Social Communications denies that the move is a technological gimmick that will "dumb down" the Church's message.

Speaking to Vatican Radio, the council's secretary, Mgr Paul Tighe explained: “The idea was very simply to try and use Twitter to share with people the essence of the Pope’s message for Lent, so over the 40 days of Lent to tweet every day one of the ideas of this message…. doing it in a way so that people can re-tweet and already people we know from our meeting with bloggers last year are already re-tweeting."

He said that Twitter was a channel to "provoke people’s interest and to invite them then to follow the message and read the text".

"Many of the key Gospel ideas are readily rendered in 140 characters – this is not the only way the Church speaks but it’s an avenue that is open to us and it’s pithy, succinct and it’s one I think that we’re quite good at," he said.

The Vatican already has its own Facebook page, YouTube channel and iPhone application.

Although the Twitter account was set up to share the Pope's Twitter message, Mgr Tighe suggested it would continue after the season's end.