The Catholic church made headlines yesterday by announcing that you can cut down your time in purgatory by following the Pope on Twitter. Or at least that’s what you might think if you went by the headlines alone.
Apparently this new method of granting indulgences is tied into the upcoming Catholic World Youth Day, in Rio de Janeiro attendance of which is grounds for indulgences for the participants. The Church realizes that not everyone can afford to attend the week-long event, but they still want to be able to offer the same purgatory time reduction to those poor folks so they’ve turned to social media:
Mindful of the faithful who cannot afford to fly to Brazil, the Vatican’s sacred apostolic penitentiary, a court which handles the forgiveness of sins, has also extended the privilege to those following the “rites and pious exercises” of the event on television, radio and through social media.
“That includes following Twitter,” said a source at the penitentiary, referring to Pope Francis’ Twitter account, which has gathered seven million followers. “But you must be following the events live. It is not as if you can get an indulgence by chatting on the internet.”
Got that? You’ve got to be paying attention if you want the indulgence. Simple clicking the Follow button on the Pope’s Twitter profile ain’t gonna work.
“You can’t obtain indulgences like getting a coffee from a vending machine,” Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, head of the pontifical council for social communication, told the Italian daily Corriere della Sera.
Which is a pretty funny thing to say because at one point in time that’s pretty much how indulgences worked. Except instead of shoving money into a vending machine you just shoved it into your local priest.
Never let it be said that the Catholic church isn’t hip with the kids these days. Worship via social media is about as hip as you can get! What they don’t want you to know is I can offer you the same deal and you don’t need to follow me on Twitter or anyplace else. Hell, you don’t even need to ask me for the indulgence. There’s no such thing as purgatory so there’s nothing to need an indulgence for.
But don’t tell too many people. The Pope needs to get his Twitter follower count up somehow.