Follow @TheSupremePontiff for Salvation!

STORY BY Emily Kirkpatrick

Published: August 29, 2013

The ecclesiastical practice from the Middle Ages of buying indulgences has suddenly become hip again thanks to the Vatican’s new, technologically-savvy pope.

Buying indulgences was an act first used by the early Catholic church as a means to bring in money, but also as a way for rich people to erase what the clergy deemed to be “temporal sins.” In other words, those sins that God frowns upon, but isn’t going to sever your relationship with him eternally over, could be expunged thanks to the payment of a few meager tithes made out to his terrestrial Holiness. The act of doling out indulgences to escape purgatory and God’s tepid wrath generally fell out of favor centuries ago in Catholicism because of the rampant corruption it inspired throughout the church. In fact, they were a major contributing factor towards the establishment of the Protestant church, where it’s believed the worshiper can have a direct conversation with God, thus cutting out the money-grubbing middle man altogether.

Pope Francis, however, hopes to revive the practice, at least temporarily, for the twenty-first century’s social media generation. For those Roman Catholic Twitter users still nervous about ending up in purgatory once they land in the great hereafter, Francis has got your back (for a limited time only). To kick off Catholic World Youth Day, which is in fact a week-long event that began on July 22, Pope Francis offered up indulgences to anyone willing to travel to Brazil for the festivities or follow the Servant of the Servants of God on Twitter and share his photos on Pinterest.

Despite the apparent promise that with a simple Follow or Re-pin you can reserve your spot in heaven, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli insisted that the Pope did not mean to imply that eternal salvation could come so simply. As he told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, "You can't obtain indulgences like getting a coffee from a vending machine. What really counts is that the tweets the Pope sends from Brazil or the photos of the Catholic World Youth Day that go up on Pinterest produce authentic spiritual fruit in the hearts of everyone." The Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary, the court set up to deal with the forgiveness of sins, claims they are merely encouraging believers who cannot see the Pope in Brazil to follow him on TV or the Internet. They stress that the social media participation must be followed up with proper devotion (Don’t forget, God can see all of your unfollows and defriending). But if you strip this pontific offer of all its religious jargon, it becomes pretty clear that this is just a church-wide scheme to attract a younger generation of believers and reformulate the image of a system largely consider to be antiquated and out of touch. Come on young Catholics, let’s get #FollowFridayJesus trending worldwide for salvation!

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