According to The Guardian, the Vatican is now granting “indulgences” to followers of Pope Francis’ Twitter account. These indulgences, when granted by the church, reduce the time Catholics will need to spend in purgatory after confession and absolution of their sins.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says indulgences are “obtained through the Church who, by virtue of the power of binding and loosing granted her by Christ Jesus, intervenes in favor of individual Christians and opens for them the treasury of the merits of Christ and the saints to obtain from the Father of mercies the remission of the temporal punishment due for their sins.”
The Guardian article explains that indulgences may be granted to those who, for example, climb the Sacred Steps in Rome or attend personally or via Twitter the Catholic World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in July. However, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli warns Catholics that it is the piety prior to and during the act that’s important, and that indulgences aren’t distributed “like getting coffee from a vending machine.” Praying while following events in Rio online would need to be carried out with “requisite devotion,” it suggested, producing “authentic spiritual fruit in the hearts of everyone.”