Web surfers can now send virtual postcards of Pope Benedict XVI to their Facebook friends or follow the pontiff's travel on their iPhones.
Under a papacy that has suffered communication woes, the Vatican is taking new, technologically savvy steps to bring its message to social networking sites and smartphones.
In its first day of operation Thursday, the Pope2You portal gathered some 45,000 contacts and 500,000 page views, while a Facebook application that sends postcards with photos of Benedict and excerpts from his messages was used around 10,000 times, the head of the project said.
Also available on the portal is an application for iPhone and iPod Touch that gives surfers video and audio news on the pope's trips and speeches, as well as on Catholic events worldwide.
The new Web site is the latest update in the Vatican's efforts to broaden the pope's audience and reach out to young people. In January, Benedict got his own YouTube channel, which is now linked to the portal.
Earlier this year, the Internet figured in one of Benedict's most criticized moves - lifting the excommunication of a renegade bishop who had denied the Holocaust.
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