Vatican launches new website with pope's first tweet

VATICAN CITY - The Vatican formally unveiled its new Internet information portal news.va on Wednesday, a day after Pope Benedict XVI launched the initiative with his first Twitter message sent from an iPad.

A smiling pope was seen tapping on his iPad with the help of cardinals surrounding him in video footage released by the Vatican. The screen saver on the tablet was a picture of the pope as a young man with his family.

The 84-year-old pontiff, dressed in a white cassock at the head of a long wooden table in the Vatican, can be seen tapping on a link with the word "Publish" which does not appear to work but then scrolls through the website.

The pope used his official name in Latin - the Vatican's official language - to launch the site on Tuesday with a tweet reading: "Praised be our Lord Jesus Christ! With my prayers and blessings, Benedictus XVI."

The website brings together news from Vatican media including the official daily Osservatore Romano, Vatican radio and television and the Catholic Church's missionary news agency which covers the developing world.

News.va will also be updating the faithful on Vatican events and important events concerning Catholics around the world through Twitter, YouTube videos and photos on Flickr. The website was developed by a Spanish web design agency.

The Vatican has embraced social media in recent months in an attempt to reach a wider and more youthful audience, as it struggles against growing secularism in society and deals with a wave of paedophile priest scandals.