A shaky start, but Pope's Twitter adventure is underway

Pope Benedict XVI's Twitter adventure got off to a shaky start today as Vatican TV images appeared to show him fail his first attempt at tweeting.

The pope, who still writes his speeches by hand, seemed to have pressed too hard on his Papal iPad and the tweet was not immediately sent. Luckily an adviser was on hand to assist.

Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli of the Vatican's communications department showed the pontiff how to do it, but the pope hesitated. Celli then touched the screen lightly himself and off went the tweet:

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Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart.

The tweet was sent at the end of weekly general audience in the Vatican before thousands of people.

The pope already had just over a million followers in all of the languages combined minutes before he sent his first tweet and the number was growing.

ITV News Correspondent Paul Davies reports:

After the audience was over and the television cameras turned off, the pontiff answered the first of three questions sent to him at #askpontifex.

The first question answered by the pope was:

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How can faith in Jesus be lived in a world without hope?

His answer:

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By speaking with Jesus in prayer, listening to what he tells you in the Gospel and looking for him in those in need

The pope, who, as leader of the Roman Catholic Church already has 1.2 billion followers in the standard sense of the word, won't be following anyone else, the Vatican has said.

It added that the contents of future tweets will come primarily from the contents of his weekly general audience, Sunday blessings and homilies on major Church holidays.

They are also expected to include reaction to major world events, such as natural disasters.