How many cardinals does it take to teach a Pope to tweet?


Philip Elmer-DeWitt is a senior editor at Fortune.

Pope Benedict XVI sits at an iPad to launch -- via Twitter -- a Vatican news portal

It was a scene familiar to anyone who has tried to show an aged parent or grandparent how to use Apple's (aapl) tablet computer.

A toddler will pick up an iPad, understand intuitively what those onscreen buttons are for, and start happily banging away. But an 84-year-old man who is supposed to be infallible is understandably more cautious.

So when the Pope Benedict XVI gazed upon those unfamiliar icons Tuesday in what was supposed to be his ceremonial first Twitter message, he hesitated long and hard before touching one.

So long, that the bishops who surrounded the Holy Father -- like many an over-eager iPad instructor -- started tapping and pinching and zooming and scrolling for him.

In the end, the Pope did send out a tweet -- "Dear Friends, I just launched News.va Praised be our Lord Jesus Christ! With my prayers and blessings, Benedictus XVI" -- but after watching the video below, it's hard to believe it really came from him.

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