VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI wrote a message on Twitter on Tuesday praising Jesus and announcing the launch of a new Vatican website in the first "tweet" by a leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

"Dear Friends, I just launched Praised be our Lord Jesus Christ! With my prayers and blessings, Benedictus XVI," wrote the pope, using his formal name in Latin -- the Vatican's official language.

The Vatican has embraced social media in recent months, launching popular Facebook and YouTube pages and courting bloggers as it tries to get the Church's message out to a wider and more youthful audience.

The Church also used a website to receive notifications of purported miracles attributed to late pope John Paul II and is launching an e-learning initiative to address the problem of child abuse by priests.

The web portal is set to be formally launched on Wednesday.

It will provide news and pictures from the Vatican's radio and television stations and its official newspaper, Osservatore Romano.

The portal will initially be in English and Italian with plans to include a third language, probably Spanish, after the summer.