Pope Tries to Keep It Real, Offers Indulgences via Twitter

Hey, all you hipster holdouts who won’t join Twitter with the rest of us, there is a new added benefit: less time in purgatory.

That’s right. The Vatican is offering indulgences to those who follow Pope Francis on Twitter. For those who don’t know, an indulgence is basically time off purgatory, which is basically a time out for your soul, at the end of which you can come play with all your friends in heaven.

Maybe you’ve heard of indulgences before; they are the things corrupt priests sold in the Middle Ages for a mad amount of money. A satchel of gold coins could buy you a free pass into heaven.

Well, I guess those indulgences never really went away. Apparently, you can still get indulgences for performing certain tasks. According to Raw Story:

Indulgences these days are granted to those who carry out certain tasks – such as climbing the Sacred Steps, in Rome (reportedly brought from Pontius Pilate’s house after Jesus scaled them before his crucifixion), a feat that earns believers seven years off purgatory.

But attendance at events such as the Catholic World Youth Day, in Rio de Janeiro, a week-long event starting on 22 July, can also win an indulgence.

Catholic World Youth Day spawned the Twitter indulgences. To be fair, this seems to have come from a relatively progressive place. The Vatican’s sacred apostolic penitentiary, which is the office that deals with indulgences and the forgiveness of sins, realized that not everyone is rolling in dough. To make the indulgences available to those who can’t make it to Catholic World Youth Day, following the event on Twitter will count.

First, can we all just take a moment to appreciate the fact that the Vatican has an office devoted to sin forgiveness?

Second, as many problems as I have with the Catholic Church, I almost feel bad for mocking this. The Vatican seems to be at least trying to address the economic reality.

But if this is an attempt to woo young people back to the Church, well, I’m not convinced that’s going to work. Patrick Hornbeck, chair of the department of Theology at the University of Fordham, says that the new Pope really gets the young people today:

“This Pope has done a remarkable job of demonstrating how well aware he is of the way in which his younger audience, his younger followers, follow things and I think it totally makes sense that young Catholics would be much more likely to participate via social networking and social media rather than through traditional ways,” said Hornbeck.

This may be true, but the Church has been hemorrhaging members in recent years, according to a study by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. The study found that many former Catholics left because they were just too darn progressive:

One-in-ten American adults is a former Catholic. Former Catholics are about evenly divided between those who have become unaffiliated and those who have become Protestant, with a smaller number leaving Catholicism for other faiths. In response to the yes-or-no questions about why they left the Catholic Church, nearly six-in-ten former Catholics who are now unaffiliated say they left Catholicism due to dissatisfaction with Catholic teachings on abortion and homosexuality, about half cite concerns about Catholic teachings on birth control and roughly four-in-ten name unhappiness with Catholicism’s treatment of women.

As a general matter, approval of homosexuality and birth control has increased, and even the GOP’s own survey shows that young people support progressive causes.

As long as the Catholic Church continues to put the oppression of women and LGBT people at the top of it’s agenda, I don’t think the stream of people leaving the Church will be halted anytime soon.

Photo Credit: Catholic Church (England and Wales) on Flickr.


Jerome S
Jerome S1 years ago


Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks for sharing.

Grace Adams
Grace Adams5 years ago

Beth M. Jesus was a Jew with a good strict talmudic education that covered just about all of what modern Jews call the TNK (torah, neviim (prophets), ketuviim (writings)) and Christians call the Old Testament. He didn't make things up. Everything he taught, he was quoting from the Jewish literature available to him and to us.

Grace Adams
Grace Adams5 years ago

Pope Francis telling American bishops to stop obsessing about sex and pay more attention to relieving poverty seems to be a sign that thing are improving.

Rebecca G.
Rebecca G5 years ago

This is the 21st century! Isn't about time we realized that the Catholic religion is oppressive and out of date. God is who forgives our sins, not a human wearing outlandishly expensive robes, living in a palace and telling us how to live our lives? With the sex scandals, and the cover ups, it's pretty clear that the church is only concerned with the money it can collect and do all it can to stay in power. Sorry if this offends anyone, but wake up people!

Rod Mather
Rod Mather5 years ago

Well Said Beth. Couldn't agree more.

Beth M.
Beth M5 years ago

..then perhaps he should have turned the postition down..and continued saving souls on the streets and on the bus...which is basically where we as Xtians r told to work...Yeshua..our saviour..or Jesus as some know him..didnt know of the bible as we know it..he had only Jewish prophetic texts and in them recognised his own spiritual self...The catholic church has stolen and perverted his words and ways. In the first years after the crucifixion..Christianity was only the seed of a new religion..It has no developed liturgy..it had no method of worship..and it had no name!!!...the earliest followers simply called it the way...Do u understand the meaning of this!?....Would our Lord not have told us this before he died if the ways of catholics or todays christians were the way.?..It was developed after his death and made into an obscenity...Yeshua and his disciples were a rag tag band of poor wandering souls on fire with the Truth of God...teaching the outcasts..the drunks...the sinners...Getting beaten up and spat on and lied about and run out of town every where they went...Get real people..revival is on its way and lies and organised religion on its way out...Thanks almighty God as his plan is revealed...x

Maria Ines Hernandez

WHO CAN BELIEVE IN 21TH CENTURY GOD CAN FORGIVE PEOPLE THROUGH TWITTER??? This Pope couldn't try to do it...do you know about his former life in Buenos Aires? He used public transport-YES,A CARDINAL USING PUBLIC TRANSPORT_-and not any expensive car;...lived in a modest appartment,CRYED AGAINST UNFAIR SOCIAL ORDER, he was pursued by the Government...;worked for POOR PEOPLE,walked on the street as everyone...Please GET INFORMED before to talk! Catholic Church did a lot of things bad but we are in front of a change.Christ JUST SAID THE OPPOSITE than "prince cardinals" did !!

Maria Ines Hernandez

My God these are lies! This man is going against tha gangters of the Vaticano,could you he' be selling indulgencies? Get better informed please!!Morover every Catholic or Christians KNOWS PERFECTLY that only God can forgive sins,nobody else!! REPEAT:HE'S TRYING TO CHANGE THE CATHOLIC CHURCH,HE'S AGAINST THE GANGSTERS WHO HANDLED THE GREAT AMOUNT OF MANY IN THE VATICANO!! This man is remembering the real spirit of Jesus Christ! As regards LGBT,he should not condanate them,I agree.I'm Argentinian ans I know many people is comming back to Church.And priest may be married,of course! Do you know he's AGREE UTH FEMININE PRIESTHOOD, and,as a consequence,CONSERVATIVE CARDINALS are trying to be closer Islam,where woen haven't any place? DO YOU KNOW SOME CONSERVATIVE SECTORS IN CHURCH TRIED TO KILL HIM?? Please! We have to try to defend this Pope,he's really different!!

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener5 years ago

Oxymoron... a pope keeping it real...