The Vatican offered time off purgatory to Catholics who followed Pope Francis’s tweets, in a bizarre and brazen effort to combine social media with the ancient system of indulgences.
The Vatican’s papal court handling pardons for sins said in July that Catholics could win indulgences by following Catholic World Youth Day on the social networking site, Twitter. The decision was made ahead of the pope’s visit to the World Youth Festival, in Rio de Janeiro, on 22 July.
Catholics believe that plenary indulgences reduce the time they must spend in purgatory to be rid of all their sins. Social followers, who confessed their sins, were absolved by a priest and attended mass, could follow along live through Twitter and receive ‘forgiveness’. Pope Francis’s Twitter account has seven million followers.
But a senior Vatican official warned: ‘You can’t obtain indulgences like getting a coffee from a vending machine’ (see ET article on p.20).