Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

Vatican cuts time spent in Purgatory for Pope's Twitter followers during Brazil trip

Court in charge of forgiveness of sins says those that follow upcoming event via social media will be granted indulgences

Pope Francis waves to the faithful after visiting San Gerlando church during his visit to the island of Lampedusa on July 8, 2013 in Italy.
Pope Francis waves to the faithful after visiting San Gerlando church during his visit to the island of Lampedusa on July 8, 2013 in Italy.
This early 1950's picture released by journalist Sergio Rubin, shows Jorge Mario Bergoglio, right, posing with unidentified schoolmates of a preparatory school in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Cardinal Bergoglio, who took the name of Pope Francis, was elected on Wednesday, March 13, 2013 the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. (AP Photo/Courtesy of Sergio Rubin, ho)
This early 1950's picture released by journalist Sergio Rubin, shows Jorge Mario Bergoglio, right, posing with unidentified schoolmates of a preparatory school in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Cardinal Bergoglio, who took the name of Pope Francis, was elected on Wednesday, March 13, 2013 the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. (AP Photo/Courtesy of Sergio Rubin, ho)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - MARCH 19:  President of Argentina Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner attends the Inauguration Mass of Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square for his Inauguration Mass on March 19, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. The inauguration of Pope Francis is being held in front of an expected crowd of up to one million pilgrims and faithful who have crowded into St Peter's Square and the surrounding streets to see the former Cardinal of Buenos Aires officially take up his position. Pope Francis' inauguration takes place in front his cardinals, spiritual leaders as well as heads of states from around the world and he will now lead an estimated 1.3 billion Catholics.  (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - MARCH 19: President of Argentina Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner attends the Inauguration Mass of Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square for his Inauguration Mass on March 19, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. The inauguration of Pope Francis is being held in front of an expected crowd of up to one million pilgrims and faithful who have crowded into St Peter's Square and the surrounding streets to see the former Cardinal of Buenos Aires officially take up his position. Pope Francis' inauguration takes place in front his cardinals, spiritual leaders as well as heads of states from around the world and he will now lead an estimated 1.3 billion Catholics. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

Salvation – or at least a shorter stay in Purgatory – might now be only a tweet away with news that Pope Francis is to offer “indulgences” – remissions for temporary punishment – to the faithful who follow him on the social media site.

Around 1.5 million are expected to flock to Rio de Janeiro to celebrate World Youth Day with the Argentine pontiff later this month. But for those who can’t make it to Brazil,  forgiveness may be available to contrite sinners who follow Francis’s progress via their TV screen or social networks.

The Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary, the Vatican court that rules on the forgiveness of sins, has said that indulgences may be given to those who follow the “rites and pious exercises” of the event on television, radio and through social media.

The Penitentiary said that Pope Francis' Twitter account, which has already gathered seven million followers, would be one such medium.

Vatican officials, noted however, that to obtain indulgences over the internet or otherwise, believers would first have to confess their sins, offer prayers and attend Mass.

“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 newspaper Corriere della Sera.

Pope Francis is forgoing his bulletproof popemobile for his upcoming trip to Brazil for the Catholic Church's youth festival.

The Argentine pontiff will instead use the same open-topped car he uses for travelling around St Peter's Square when he arrives in Rio de Janeiro on July 22.

In recent times, popes have always used the protected popemobile for trips outside Rome, but Francis ended the tradition when he used an open-topped Fiat during his recent visit to the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Francis has made a point of tweaking Vatican protocol, especially where it concerns the trappings of the papacy and his ability to connect with ordinary people.

Vatican spokesman the Rev Federico Lombardi announced the change during a briefing about the pope's July 22-28 trip.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz