Image Source: MSN.
The Catholic Church is offering indulgences - tokens of remission of an otherworldly temporal punishment due to worldly sin - to followers of Pope Francis's social networks (he is on Twitter here and Facebook here).
Image Source: Facebook.
The Independent and Guardian both report on this story, along with several other MSM outlets. In The Guardian report, the Vatican official who was interviewed stated that any virtual engagement with the faith must be heartfelt and real:
The papal Decree according to which Special Indulgences are granted to the faithful on the occasion of the 28th World Youth Day [Rio de Janeiro, 22-29 July 2013] (9 July 2013), is listed in Italian, and in Latin as follows:In its latest attempt to keep up with the times the Vatican has married one of its oldest traditions to the world of social media by offering "indulgences" to followers of Pope Francis' tweets.
The church's granted indulgences reduce the time Catholics believe they will have to spend in purgatory after they have confessed and been absolved of their sins.
The remissions got a bad name in the Middle Ages because unscrupulous churchmen sold them for large sums of money. But now indulgences are being applied to the 21st century.
But a senior Vatican official warned web-surfing Catholics that indulgences still required a dose of old-fashioned faith, and that paradise was not just a few mouse 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.
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.
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.
Apart from the papal Twitter account, the Vatican has launched an online news portal supported by an app, a Facebook page, and it plans to use the online social networking site Pinterest.
D E C R E T U Mquo, occasione "XXVIII Mundialis Iuvenum Diei"
Indulgentiarum conceditur donum
SANCTI SEBASTIANI FLUMINIS IANUARIIDECRETUMquo, occasione "XXVIII Mundialis Iuvenum Diei", Indulgentiarum conceditur donum, vertente Fidei Anno, in civitate Sancti Sebastiani Fluminis Ianuarii peragendi.
Beatissimus Pater Franciscus, exoptans ut iuvenes, sociato corde cum spiritalibus Fidei Anni finibus a Benedicto Pp. XVI indicti, desideratos sanctificationis fructus attingant e "XXVIII Mundiali Iuvenum Die" qui, a die XXII usque ad diem XXIX proximi mensis Iulii, sub proposito: "Euntes ergo docete omnes gentes (cfr Mt 28, 19)" in civitate Sancti Sebastiani Fluminis Ianuarii celebrabitur, in Audientia infra scripto Cardinali Paenitentiario Maiori die III vertentis mensis Iunii concessa, e thesauro satisfactionum Domini Nostri Iesu Christi, Beatissimae Virginis Mariae omniumque Sanctorum, maternum Ecclesiae sensum patefaciens, iuvenes omnesque fideles, congruenter paratos, Indulgentiarum dono frui posse diebus supra signatis annuit prout sequitur:
a.- plenaria conceditur Indulgentia christifidelibus vere paenitentibus et contritis, suetis sub condicionibus (sacramentali confessione, eucharistica communione et oratione ad mentem Summi Pontificis) semel in die lucranda, quam etiam animabus fidelium defunctorum per modum suffragii applicare poterint, si sacris ritibus et spiritalibus inceptis, in civitate Sancti Sebastiani Fluminis Ianuarii devote interfuerint.
Christifideles legitime impediti, easdem condiciones spiritales, sacramentales precationisque implentes, plenariam obtinere valebunt Indulgentiam, si, eliciens affectum filialis subiectionis erga Romanum Pontificem, sese in spiritu dictis functionibus et spiritalibus inceptis univerint, dum instrumentis televisificis et radiophonicis propagabuntur vel, semper piissima mentis intentione, per nova communicationum socialium instrumenta, simul sequi poterint;
b.- partialis conceditur Indulgentia christifidelibus, ubicumque fuerint dum praedictus celebrabitur conventus quoties, corde saltem contrito, Deo fervidas admoverint preces, concludendas officiali "Mundialis Iuvenum Diei" prece, piis invocationibus Beatae Mariae Virginis, Brasiliae Reginae sub titulo "Nossa Senhora da Conceiçao Aparecida" invocatae, necnon aliorum Patronorum et Intercessorum eiusdem Conventus, ut iuvenes in Fidei professione et in vita sancte ducenda adiuventur.
Quo autem facilius christifideles caelestium horum munerum participes fieri queant, sacerdotes, ad sacramentales confessiones audiendas legitime adprobati, prompto et generoso animo sese praebeant ad ipsas excipiendas et fidelibus publicas preces pro bono ipsius "Mundialis Iuvenum Diei" exitu proponant.
Praesenti pro hac vice valituro. Quibuscumque in contrarium facientibus non obstantibus.
Datum Romae, ex aedibus Paenitentiariae Apostolicae, die XXIV mensis Iunii, anno Incarnationis Dominicae MMXIII, in sollemnitate Sancti Ioannis Baptistae.
Emmanuel S. R. E. Card. Monteiro de Castro