from the what-would-jesus-tweet? dept
You may recall that the recently retired Pope Benedict became the first Pope to sign up for a Twitter account. Of course, when he decided that his holy 401k had reached a sufficient amount, Pope Benedict took his leave and the Vatican subsequently deleted every single one of his tweets, which I have to say is a really odd thing to do to the words of the former holiest man in the world. But never fear, because newly minted Pope Francis is here, and he's all hashtags and twitter-beefs and whatnot.
What's more, now you can earn yourself some sweet, heavenly indulgences, all for the low price of following Pope Francis on Twitter!
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 remissions got a bad name in the Middle Ages because unscrupulous churchmen sold them for large sums of money. But now indulgences are being applied to the 21st century.For those of you who weren't raised Catholic (like me), or who don't have a sort of morbid fascination with religion in general (like me), perhaps I should explain what indulgences are. See, in the Catholic faith, there's a transitional period (not a place) called Purgatory, where the mildly-sinful undertake purification or punishment before admittance to Heaven. Should you commit no mortal sins, but some lesser sins, you go through this process which you can primarily complete only if enough people on Earth pray for your soul. So you better be nice to those around you, or you could be stuck experiencing the purification of inner-fire for quite a while. But, if you're not the kind of soul that enjoys such penance-flames, you can obtain indulgences. Indulgences are offered by the Church and they are essentially giant time-erasers for the period you're supposed to spend in Purgatory. You get them, according to Pope John Paul II, through "only the most important prayers and good works of piety, charity and penance."
But 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.
Or, if you lived a bit further back, you could pay the Church for them. Religious capitalism rules! On the other hand, if you live today, you can now get them for a simple Twitter follow and a dash of good, old-fashioned faith. Okay, so that's not exactly true. You have to be following the Pope's tweets live (?) during Catholic World Youth Day in Brazil, as the Vatican says it understands that not everyone around the world can fly to South America.
"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."Look, honestly, it's not my cup of tea, but this is all rather sweet of the Church, and so far I've kind of liked this new Pope. The Church being understanding that not every faithful follower can make the trek to Brazil and offering the same benefits remotely via Twitter is a nice sentiment to have. It's a far cry from some other religions, that require in-person attendance at various locations around the globe. And any modernization by the Church is good by me, but it's a bit concerning when I'm told that I get an indulgence for following Pope Francis or a free frappuccino for retweeting a Starbucks tweet. That kind of analogy shouldn't ever get to be made, yet here I am making it.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a frozen coffee drink to pick up.