Jesus Christ was the world's first tweeter because his pronouncements were "brief and full of meaning", Vatican cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi said today.
Christ "used tweets before everyone else, with elementary phrases made up of fewer than 45 characters like 'Love one another'", said Ravasi, the Vatican's equivalent of a culture minister.
"A bit like in television today, he delivered a message through a story or a symbol," Ravasi said at a conference with Italy's leading newspaper editors.
The cardinal emphasised the importance of clergy making full use of modern-day computer technology.
"If a cleric, a pastor is not interested in communication, they are defying their duty," he said.
The Vatican has stepped up its presence on the Internet in recent years, initially under Benedict XVI and now under Pope Francis, who has more than three million followers on Twitter in English alone.
Francis has also resorted to more traditional media, cold-calling ordinary faithful who have written to him and writing lengthy letters on religious issues that have appeared in the Italian press.