Breaking news about Pope Francis’ Twitter account:
In its latest attempt to keep up with the times the Vatican has married one of its oldest traditions to the world of social media by offering “indulgences” to followers of Pope Francis’ tweets.
The church’s granted indulgences reduce the time Catholics believe they will have to spend in purgatory after they have confessed and been absolved of their sins.
Having grown up in Austria with at the time 99% of the population being died-in-the-wool Catholics, I know all about confessions and purgatory, the deadly sins and threats unleashed onto my innocent and gullible classmates who endured two or three hours a week of indoctrination. I, on the other hand, as a Protestant, was excused from those classes and enjoyed my freedom. When friends told me in hushed words about their future prospects should they not comply with all the demands the Church lined out, I felt very lucky that I had been spared from being a Catholic and possibly ending up in Purgatory.
For those not in the know about purgatory, a little information: The Catholic Church has been instructed by the Holy Ghost about the existence of a purgatory (lat., purgare, to make clean, to purify), a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who died and are not free from venial sins, or have not fully paid for their transgressions.
Hence during the Middle Ages, remissions (also called indulgences) could be had for large sums of money. Now in the 21st century it has been announced that simple methods such as personal attendance of the Catholic World Youth Day (starting in Rio de Janeiro on July 22, 2013) can win an indulgence or two. Am wondering what the going rate is: just how many indulgences are needed to clean the slate of a sexual indiscretion for example, something most people are rather prone to experience?
The Guardian reported on July 16, 2013, “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 [to-date]. ‘But you must be following the events live. It is not as if you can get an indulgence by chatting on the internet.’
“A senior Vatican official warned web-surfing Catholics that indulgences still required a dose of old-fashioned faith, and that paradise was not just a few mouse clicks away: ‘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.”
This new development could mean an unprecedented surge in Twitter accounts. What hope for redemption! More than 1 billion Catholics getting on the bandwagon, following the Pope’s messages in order to win indulgences and thus avoiding a long time in purgatory will surely overtake the present Twitter leader Justin Bieber, who has a mere 41 million followers worldwide and no say on this matter.
Now, where’s that hotline for the Holy Ghost?