After days of buildup, Pope Benedict XVI sent out his first message Wednesday to his hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers.

The pope, whose English-language Twitter handle is @Pontifex–Latin for “bridge builder”–sent the tweet at 2:28 a.m. Pacific time. As of late Wednesday morning, it was retweeted more than 45,000 times and received more than 15,000 “favorites.”

He immediately followed up with two more tweets.

The pope tweeted out the same messages in seven other languages: Arabic, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish.

CNN:

Pope Benedict has some previous experience at tweeting, having launched the official Vatican news site on Twitter, @news_va_en, in June of last year.

Other religious leaders have found great success with Twitter. The 140-character limit for tweets allows for short messages, perfect for small verses of scripture or inspiration.

The Dalai Lama (@DalaiLama), Rick Warren (@RickWarren), Joel Osteen (@JoelOsteen) and scores of other religious leaders spread their messages via the site.

Read more

— Posted by Tracy Bloom.

Wait, before you go…

If you're reading this, you probably already know that non-profit, independent journalism is under threat worldwide. Independent news sites are overshadowed by larger heavily funded mainstream media that inundate us with hype and noise that barely scratch the surface.  We believe that our readers deserve to know the full story. Truthdig writers bravely dig beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that tells you what’s really happening and who’s rolling up their sleeves to do something about it.

Like you, we believe a well-informed public that doesn’t have blind faith in the status quo can help change the world. Your contribution of as little as $5 monthly or $35 annually will make you a groundbreaking member and lays the foundation of our work.

Support Truthdig