Pope's Got Mail!

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Pope Benedict XVI had an Internet fan club even when he was cardinal. Now the Vatican has taken the logical next step by giving him a papal e-mail address.

The Holy See hasn't said how many messages the pope has gotten, but if the late John Paul II's experience with a multimedia ministry is any guide, the new leader of the world's 1.1 billion Roman Catholics will have an inbox jammed with prayers, problems and pet peeves.

On Thursday, the Vatican modified its Web site so users who click on a "Greetings to the Holy Father" icon on the home page automatically activate an e-mail composer with his address in the send field.

The address for messages in English is There are also addresses for e-mails in Italian, Spanish, French, German and Portuguese.

Benedict's e-mail isn't the only address generating interest in an online world.

The pope's election triggered a mad scramble among people eager to register with various incarnations of his name on free e-mail providers such as Yahoo! and Microsoft Corp.'s Hotmail, British Broadcasting Corp. reported Thursday.

And there is action on the Web, too. At one point Thursday, bidding on eBay surpassed $1,175 for "" — a Web domain name being peddled by an enterprising soul from Ontario, Canada.

John Paul was the first pope to use e-mail, a medium that made its debut during his 26-year papacy. The Vatican said he received tens of thousands of messages in his final weeks as he struggled with illness.

The Vatican even sent an e-mail to journalists to announce John Paul's death April 2.