Following the Pope on Twitter to get you out of some hell-time (the titular “Pope Purgatory credits”) sounds kind of like a scam (or at least an Onion story). It is definitely not the latter, but kind-of sort-of is the former.
According to the Los Angeles Times, following Pope Francis online (Twitter only, sorry Facebookers) can reduce the amount of time sinners spend in Purgatory.
Purgatory is a controversial and very poorly defined Catholic concept which, when it’s actually a part of the accepted theology, is kind of an in-between Heaven and Hell limbo where you sort of sweat out your sinful impurity before you’re ready to enter Heaven.
Apparently, the idea was floated by Pope Francis at a meeting last June as a compromise for Catholics who are unable to attend religious events in person due to distance.
Per the decision: “the faithful who are legitimately impeded [from attending events in person] can obtain the plenary indulgence if … they follow the same rites and pious exercises … by the new means of social communication.”
That word “indulgence” is another controversial and very poorly defined Catholic concept which, when it’s actually a part of the accepted theology, allows for the remission of sin apart from the usual channel of confession and forgiveness.
In it’s most controversial and admittedly reductive sense, it can be a way to “buy” your way out of punishment for sin.
The Pope’s Purgatory credits strategy has received mixed reviews from religious leaders.
“You can’t obtain indulgences like getting a coffee from a vending machine,” said Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, head of the pontifical council for social communication.
“It won’t be sufficient to attend the Mass in Rio online, follow the Pope on your iPad or visit Pope2You.net. These are only tools that are available to believers.” he continued.
But Father Paolo Padrini, known as the “iPriest,” seems to favor the idea.
“Imagine your computer is a well-laden table where you can find tweets from Pope Francis, videos on YouTube, clips on Corriere.it and Facebook postings from your friend in Brazil…..That is the dinner that will nourish your spirit. Sharing, acting in unison, despite the obstacle of distance.”
This can be viewed as the Vatican’s simple attempt to engage with young Catholics using social media.
The Pope’s Purgatory credits strategy doesn’t exactly inspire my religious ire. It’s a pretty quirky story, but I’m interested to hear what you think in the comments below.