In Brief

Fancy time off purgatory? Follow the Pope on Twitter

Vatican offers 'indulgences' to those who follow Francis on social media during Catholic events

pope-francis-twitter.jpg

SINNERS wanting to reduce the time they spend in purgatory are in luck. The Vatican is offering "time off purgatory" to the 2m followers of Pope Francis's tweets.

The Catholic Church is combining one of its oldest traditions with modern technology by providing "indulgences" to those who follow the Pope on social media, The Guardian reports.

Indulgences, which were frowned upon in the Middle Ages after churchmen sold them for their own financial gain, shorten the amount of time Catholics believe they will spend in purgatory – a place where souls remain for punishment after a mortal sin has been pardoned.

Modern indulgences have normally been granted to those carrying out certain tasks. For instance, climbing the Sacred Steps in Rome reportedly takes seven years off purgatory. Attending a Catholic event such as World Youth Day can also be rewarded. Now, the Catholic Church, mindful that not everyone has the freedom to travel, has extended "time off purgatory" privileges to those who follow the "rites and pious exercises" of Church events on television, radio and social media.

That does not mean paradise can be achieved through a few moments of web-surfing. An indulgence is received only if the confessor is "truly penitent and contrite"  and shows "requisite devotion" while foillowing the event live.

As Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, head of the pontifical council for social communication, warns: "You can't obtain indulgences like getting a coffee from a vending machine". For those who aren't following the Pope on Twitter, the Vatican has provided other social media venues where the confessor can receive an indulgence - including a Facebook page and online news portal.

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