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Pope Tweets: 'Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter...'

The pope has tweeted.

In perhaps the most drawn out Twitter launch ever, Pope Benedict XVI pushed the button on a tablet brought to him at the end of his general audience Wednesday. It read: "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."

Later in the day he was to respond to a few messages sent to him from around the world.

As the countdown to his first tweet from his Twitter handle (at)Pontifex neared, the pope had garnered nearly 1 million followers in the eight languages of his account.