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Pope to offer ‘indulgences’ to his Twitter followers

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-07-18

Ahead of his trip to Brazil, and in a bid to reach out to a wider number of Catholics, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis will grant “indulgences” to those who follow him on Twitter.

In its latest effort to take part in the social media conversation, the Vatican has announced it will offer “indulgences” to virtual followers of Pope Francis, better known on Twitter as @Pontifex.

For the first time, and ahead of the pope’s trip to Brazil, the Vatican has opened up access to the Pope’s indulgences to Catholic users of the micro-messaging network, as well as those who see him in person.

For Catholics, an indulgence is a remission of temporal punishment due to sin. In essense a step towards purification, indulgences are usually granted in exchange for prayers or good works. The Church's salvation is only granted by having grave sins absolved, customarilly through the sacrament of Confession.

The wider social media strategy

According to UK daily The Guardian, a senior Vatican official warned web-surfing Catholics that indulgences still required a dose of old-fashioned faith, and that heaven was not just a few clicks away.

“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, told the Italian daily Corriere della Sera.

The Pope's Twitter account has generated seven million followers since it launched in December under Pope Benedict, as part of the Vatican's new and enhanced social media and communication strategy. The papacy also launched an online news portal supported by a smartphone application and a Facebook page. And it plans to use the online social networking site Pinterest.

“What really matters is the spiritual awakening that can come from the Pope’s Tweets or the pictures posted from Brazil on Pinterest of the Catholic World Youth Day,” Celli said.

The pontiff is due in Rio de Janeiro on Monday, in his first foreign trip, a week-long visit to attend World Youth Day, a major Catholic youth festival expected to attract 1.5 million people.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-07-18

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