The Vatican, in trying desperately to hold on to its ever shrinking flock, has turned to the Internet, with something called “Pope Purgatory Credits.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, if you follow Pope Francis online – but ONLY on Twitter – you’ll get a reduction in the time you need to serve in purgatory (Hell) and thus get to heaven sooner.
The idea came from the Pope himself at a meeting of a tribunal of the Roman Curia last June. He came up with an original concept for dealing with, what are known in Catholic circles, “indulgences.”
These are the religious equivalents of “tax credits” and can be accumulated to shorten your time in purgatory. The problem was that they had to be awarded at an event by His Holiness in person.
Pope Francis realized that it was unfair to deny people the opportunity to spend more time in heaven simply because they couldn’t travel.
A decree was issued stating:
“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.”
Although the Church is growing in Asia and Africa, its influence is diminishing in the rest of the developed world. Not all of the Vatican hierarchy are convinced that this is the path to follow.
“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.
“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'”
And he went on:
“What really matters is that the Pope’s tweets from Brazil, or the photos of World Youth Day that will be posted on Pinterest, should bear authentic spiritual fruit in the hearts of each one of us.”
The same newspaper spoke with Father PaoloPadrini – known as the ïPriest”.
He explained the situation as follows:
“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.”
But it will still be real participation and that is why you will obtain the indulgence, above all, because your click will have come from the heart. The Pope, and the church leadership can only pray, literally, that the “Pope Purgatory Credits” scheme will work.