Pope Francis Purgatory Twitter Deal: Followers Get to Heaven Faster

Wednesday, 17 Jul 2013 07:30 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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Those looking to shave some time off their purgatory stays can simply follow Pope Francis on Twitter and spread his message via other social media.

The pope will offer plenary indulgences, or reductions in purgatory time, to those who participate in the Catholic Church's World Youth Day later this month in Rio de Janeiro. But those who can't make it all the way to Brazil can still earn a pass to shorten their time in limbo between Earth and heaven.

Any of Pope Francis' 7 million Twitter followers who are "legitimately impeded" from attending the festivities in Brazil will be able to obtain the same indulgences if they follow the event's ceremonies "through television and radio or, always with the due devotion, through the new means of social communication."

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But officials said it won't be as easy as visiting the pope's Twitter feed one time.

"You can't obtain indulgences like getting a coffee from a vending machine," the Vatican's Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. "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."

Pope Francis has embraced social media since his election in March and used it to speak directly to his supporters and build a steady following, especially among younger demographics.

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"The @Pontifex account is likely to be a central piece of the Vatican’s new media strategy for years to come," Forbes tech writer Alex Kantrowitz wrote after the election. "As a new pope takes over, it will be interesting to watch how the strategy evolves."

Related stories:

Twitter Followers of Pope Francis Hit 2 Million — That's Just in English

Pope Benedict to Join Twitter, First Tweet By Year's End

Twitter Reacts to Pope Francis' Celibacy Rule Remarks  

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