In an attempt to grant indulgences to Catholics around the world, the Vatican has offered them to anyone following Pope Francis’ tweets during the Catholic World Youth Day.
Indulgences reduce the time Catholics believe they will spend in purgatory after they have confessed and been absolved of their sins. By attending the Youth Day, or piously following Pope Francis’ tweets and Pinterest posts, the Vatican hopes to produce “spiritual fruit” in the hearts of a greater audience and increase indulgences.
“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, warned.
Rather, indulgences granted through Twitter are a way for those who cannot fly to Brazil for the festival to earn forgiveness.
“You must be following the events live,” a penitentiary source said, recommending prayer with the day’s festivities. “It is not as if you can get an indulgence by chatting on the Internet.”
World Youth Day brings cultures from around the world together and cultural tolerance is commonly exhibited. Young Catholic pilgrims exchange flags, crosses and other religious icons in appreciation of one another.
Some say the Youth Day has the atmosphere of a world rock concert.
Indulgences fell out of popularity in the Middle Ages when corrupt churchmen sold them instead of exchanging them for good deeds. They were a contributing factor to the formation of the Presbyterian Church, in which followers believed they had a direct connection to God without the aid of a priest.
Pope Francis can be followed @Pontifex on Twitter.