The Vatican has taken another step in its efforts to embrace social media by offering "indulgences" to followers of Pope Francis' (@Pontifex) Twitter account. Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reports that the church will reduce the time Catholics have to spend in purgatory if they follow official Vatican events on TV, radio, and through social media.
One such event is the Catholic World Youth Day, commencing in Rio de Janeiro on July 22nd. The Apostolic Penitentiary, a Vatican tribunal responsible for issues relating to the forgiveness of sins, will award the privilege to the faithful that follow the event using different forms of media. Pope Francis' followers are not immediately granted an indulgence for tracking the event, with the penitentiary noting that it would hinge on the user having previously confessed and being "truly penitent and contrite." Indulgences are given out when a Catholic performs an action recommended by the church. They're meant to encourage Catholics to lead a pious life, devoting themselves to charity and generally treating others with a Christian spirit.
"Producing authentic spiritual fruit in the hearts of everyone."
"What really counts is that the tweets the Pope sends from Brazil or the photos of the Catholic World Youth Day that go up on Pinterest produce authentic spiritual fruit in the hearts of everyone," said Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, head of the pontifical council for social communication. Alongside its papal Twitter account, the Vatican offers an online news website (and app), a Facebook page, and is currently planning to engage with users on Pinterest.