VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict, twenty-four hours after giving social networking his "qualified blessing," has decided to further qualify his statement. "Earlier this week I said that virtual contact cannot take the place of actual contact. I'd like to retract that statement," said the Foursquare mayor of the Catholic Church. "I have decided that virtual contact is far preferable.""For instance, my friend Heinrich always phoned in the middle of the night asking for favors," the Pope said at a conference on Tuesday, balancing his laptop on his holy knees. "I have discovered that he is much more agreeable since he's been able to e-mail me. It isn't only Heinrich. The nature of my duties calls for constant human contact; most of the time I must wear my garb and give my subjects my undivided attention.

"But I'm eighty-three. I'd rather divide my attention between lots of people at once, advising them over instant message while wearing my pajamas and looking at Flickr streams of chapels. And over IM, I never have to see them cry."

Another bonus of the His Holiness' T1-connection? Facebook's birthday reminders. "I'm eighty-three," said the Pope for the second time, "I don't remember where I put my keys, let alone anybody's birthday. And you can imagine how that sits with old friends: 'Benedict forgot my birthday, why didn't God remind him?' Real, human friends never send reminders. This social networking is not just useful. It's divine."