The Vatican: Follow the pope on Twitter, get time off in purgatory

Following the pope on social media has just been added to the Church's list of indulgences

By Katie McDonough
Published July 17, 2013 1:37PM (EDT)
  (AP/Gregorio Borgia)
(AP/Gregorio Borgia)

According to Catholic Church doctrine, specific good works and prayers can get you a reduced sentence in purgatory, which is pretty much a waiting room to the afterlife.

And while corrupt church baddies used to sell so-called indulgences back in the Middle Ages, today there are plenty of ways to get a reprieve from the temporal punishment of your sins free of charge -- like, say, following the pope on Twitter.

More from the Guardian:

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. "But you must be following the events live. It is not as if you can get an indulgence by chatting on the internet."

In its decree, the penitentiary said that getting an indulgence would hinge on the beneficiary having previously confessed and being "truly penitent and contrite".

Praying while following events in Rio online would need to be carried out with "requisite devotion," it suggested.

So there you have it: help boost Pope Francis' Klout score and you can score yourself a little time off for good Internet behavior.

Just make sure you don't accidentally follow the fake pope, as I'm pretty sure that doesn't count.


Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at

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