Vatican will nix your time in purgatory if you follow Pope on Twitter

The Vatican announced that Catholics wipe out their entire expected time in purgatory by following the Pope on Twitter, among other “social media” ways of expunging their sinful souls.

According to the Italian paper, Corriere della Sera, in order for Catholics to earn years off of their time in purgatory, they must either attend the upcoming Rio World Youth Day in person, or follow the event on Twitter or any other method online.

In the Corriere’s English edition they note that buried in the decree is the following fine print:

The faithful who are legitimately impeded [from attending the event – Ed.] can obtain the plenary indulgence if […] they follow these same rites and pious exercises […] always with appropriate devotion, by the new means of social communication”.

New means of social communication means social media.


Pope Francis, then Cardinal Bergoglio, via the Argentine Presidency website.

The way it works is apparently the Catholics have a thing called a “temporal punishment.”  It’s a punishment for a sin that will need to happen either in this world or in purgatory.

The Pope announced a “plenary indulgence” for those who attend Rio World Youth Day either in person or online. The plenary indulgence basically wipes clean all of your required temporal punishment. The Corriere explains some more:

On 3 June, the pontiff announced the news at an audience with the major penitentiary, Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro, that anyone attending the Rio World Youth Day would obtain a plenary indulgence, as was the case for the Jubilee in 2000. This means total remission of sins committed and full relief from the obligation of penitence. On 24 June, three weeks after the Pope’s meeting with Cardinal Monteiro de Castro, the apostolic penitentiary issued a decree confirming this exceptional gift to believers.

So, in essence, if you follow the Pope on Twitter during the World Youth Day, from July 22 to July 29, and share some of his tweets and Facebook postings, he’ll wipe out the years in purgatory you’ve already earned.

So you know what means?  July 21 is going to be one wild evening.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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82 Responses to “Vatican will nix your time in purgatory if you follow Pope on Twitter”

  1. congratulations all for the excellent text – very good

  2. qivucuzusywa says:

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    twitter now, and don’t forget the
    old standby money to get a marriage annulled or be saved from burning
    in hell as the agents (priests) of god do their duty and save the flock,
    while raising money and of course partaking of the flesh of those
    delicious altar boys.

  3. Ninong says:

    Actually, no, they didn’t decide that. The media simply reported it incorrectly. Unbaptized babies are still stuck in limbus infantium for all eternity. They simply said that it would be okay to believe that unregenerated souls of unbaptized babies in limbus infantium enjoy perfect natural happiness for all eternity. That’s not Heaven.

    According to official Catholic doctrine, Heaven is supernatural happiness with the beatific vision for all eternity. Big difference in the eyes of the Church. In other words, those unbaptized babies in Limbo never get to see God.

  4. Moderator3 says:

    I merely forgot. Imagine my embarrassment.

  5. Moderator4 says:

    Just one little minute, Moderator3. The rest of us did not receive our share yet. Pay up! ;)

  6. MyrddinWilt says:

    This is a totally made up doctrine that has zero support in any part of the New or Old Testament. Even Maccabees 2 really doesn’t support it.

    The Church of England abolished purgatory in the 16th century and has been none the worst.

    People like to think that the indulgences thing was a medieval corruption. But reading between the lines it looks like Peter was being put on trial for something of the sort in the parts of Acts that appear to be trial transcripts.

    Of course if you accept Christ Myth theory then Christ himself only got invented round about 70AD. So which came first, the idea of ‘you give the priest money or burn in hell’ or Christ?

  7. karmanot says:


  8. karmanot says:

    And don’t drink the holy water or chew the cannibalized wafer.

  9. Moderator3 says:

    Thank you. Now I can get those new shoes for the cat.

  10. karmanot says:

    There are times when I could just hug you N.

  11. karmanot says:

    It was :-)

  12. karmanot says:

    But it was exciting when Sister Five wounds got a step ladder and made us touch the red plaster wounds of Mr. Jesus.

  13. Monoceros Forth says:

    I don’t think the sadism on display in The Passion even made a lot of sense as an interpretation of the original story. The Roman authorities had no special investment in punishing Jesus; heck, it’s even a point in the original that Pilate is rather wanting to be shot of the whole affair. It would have been quite dull and routine I imagine, no different from the thousands of other crucifixions Rome had carried out: give the guy a bit of a kicking, nail him up, and wait for the bloke to die and get it over with. The idea that Jesus was treated with unequalled savagery, flayed alive and all that, makes little sense to me.

  14. nicho says:

    Actually, honestly, the notion that you have to make confession and
    penitence a regular part of your life strikes me as quite an honest and
    healthful one

    Yes and no. The constant focus on it can be debilitating. While it’s good to occasionally take stock of your life and make amends for what you might have done wrong. The requirement that you constantly consider how sinful you are causes a skewed perspective of life. Some religious orders require members to do an “examination of conscience” twice a day. You have to review everything you did since the last one and figure out how what you did could have been a sin. Then, you have to write it down in a little book, so you don’t forget.

  15. nicho says:

    The worst part about it was that there was no back story. If you came in ignorant of the Christian mythology, you had absolutely no idea why this S&M porn savagery was going on.

  16. nicho says:

    No, as usual, Purgatory’s customer service is in Bangalore.

  17. milli2 says:

    A friend of mine, who is also Catholic, saw the movie in the theater was horrified that parents brought their small children to see it – she guess the youngest was about five and said that all the girl did was squirm around and bury her head in her mothers arm. I can’t imagine how it would be of any value to a little girl, and what she must have thought of her parents who had forced her to be there. I tried to watch it once, but I couldn’t make it through. I got the point of the movie pretty quickly – they guy is being slowly beaten and humiliated in a tedious manner. No need to continue watching. We all know how it ends.

  18. Monoceros Forth says:

    Ouch. :( I find myself thinking of Harvey Keitel’s character from Mean Streets. Martin Scorsese was a good Catholic altar boy in his youth (didn’t he even consider entering the priesthood?) and he knew how harsh it could be. “It’s all bullshit except the pain.” I’m also reminded of Louis C.K.’s harrowing, but brilliant, episode of “Louie” in which Tom Noonan (perfectly cast) plays a creepy doctor who lectures young Louis and the other kids in graphic detail on how Jesus would have died.

    It can all get very unwholesome, can’t it? Look at The Passion, pure torture porn. (Actually I couldn’t bring myself to watch it.)

  19. BeccaM says:

    Speaking of which, you’ll find this month’s kickback bribe “donation” in the usual spot.

  20. BeccaM says:

    True. The RCC practice of indulgences and simony have wreaked havoc throughout history.

  21. Indigo says:

    The rupee-dollar rate is not generous to the rupee but a notch or two up the socio-economic scale in the next lifetime could work out nicely. As for joining the church, even if you twitter it, you still have to be a Catholic in good standing going to Mass and all every Sunday and denouncing the neighbors on Monday and saying 6 ourfathers and 6 more hailmarys every time you want to gain an indulgence so, maybe, never mind.

  22. milli2 says:

    Catholic guilt is pretty deep – at least Catholic school guilt was very deep for me. They really don’t let you forget that a man was tortured and hung to die for you. They always one up your problems with that. “Don’t complain, think of what Jesus went through!” I mean, I get it – a lot of our problems are overblown in our own heads, but pulling out the Jesus card all the time – who the heck can beat that kind of suffering? Between that and trying to keep up with grades, dress codes, it was a pretty stressful experience. Let’s just say it wasn’t a healthy experience for a kid who internalized everything.

  23. lynchie says:

    More like Frequent Flyer miles. they expire if you don’t redeem them. I have decided i want to stay in Purgatory. I don’t think i would like Heaven with all the ugly virgins and religious hypocrits.

  24. Monoceros Forth says:

    No one is perfect, most of us don’t commit any grave moral crimes such
    as murder or theft, and to go to confession over little things like
    having an impure thought seems neurotic.

    It’s a fair point. Worrying overmuch about the sinfulness of one’s every action might be better in some sense than bulldozing your way through life thinking that you’re “saved” just because you name-drop Jesus every ten seconds. But it can be, indeed, extremely neurotic. I’m reminded of how I felt after reading C. S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters, which I still think is a very good book with a sound grasp of the psychology of slipping into hurtful behaviors. But it’s occurred to me that, taken too literally, the book can foster a truly diseased cast of mind, if you start wondering if every daily thought and action is somehow being influenced by demons trying to corrupt you. I don’t know if Lewis believed in that premise per se or was just treating it as a fictional conceit but I know that there are people who will take such a conceit very literally, and obsess about being turned toward sin by devils.

    They didn’t teach us about the good parts of ourselves nearly enough.

    Good is boring, don’t you know :p I’m not sure what to say. I think it’s possible to be too sunny and content with one’s good parts. I’m not sure that I want to be “affirmed”, to borrow a term from more liberal churches, rather than challenged. But then maybe the Catholic guilt has sunk in fairly deep.

  25. Monoceros Forth says:

    Aren’t Virgil and Beatrice there to answer any questions?

  26. milli2 says:

    Remember, a few years ago, they “decided” that unbaptized babies are allowed in heaven after all!

  27. milli2 says:

    I hope they have customer service in purgatory, because what happens if all of your points are not properly credited?

  28. milli2 says:

    Yeah, good point – the born again movement does seem to represent the “I want it all now” mentality of popular culture. As for the confession thing – yes, its a good thing to do some internal, spiritual housekeeping every once in a while, but I have a problem with the idea that you need to go confess to a priest regularly. No one is perfect, most of us don’t commit any grave moral crimes such as murder or theft, and to go to confession over little things like having an impure thought seems neurotic. I went to a catholic school for three years and it just seemed that the religious portion of our education was focused on what we were doing wrong and the eternal consequences of those actions (don’t get me going on the Jesus died for your sins guilt trip). They didn’t teach us about the good parts of ourselves nearly enough. When they taught us about purgatory I was frantically worrying about how much time I was accumulating because I swore, looked at a dirty picture, etc. It was crazy – until I figured out that the whole thing is just one big scam. What an awful burden to put on a child.

  29. Monoceros Forth says:

    I suppose they’d be good in perpetuity so long as you didn’t sin again afterward but that’s well-nigh impossible to do. You’d still have to attend Mass faithfully because, while I’m not up on my Catholic doctrine, I’m pretty sure that skipping Mass is itself a sin.

    Actually, honestly, the notion that you have to make confession and penitence a regular part of your life strikes me as quite an honest and healthful one, certainly much more healthful than the notion that all you need is one born-again moment of baptism in the Holy Spirit and you’re set for life.

  30. nicho says:

    Of course, they expire. How else will they keep you coming back. They won’t expire if you keep coming back. This isn’t Capital One, you know.

  31. nicho says:

    Limbo? Lowered the bar? Please tell me that was intentional.

  32. karmanot says:

    Oh thank you for your kind concern I am SOOOOO relieved. Can I take my luggage?

  33. karmanot says:

    And I really mean it next time!

  34. milli2 says:

    So the pope is getting into a rewards card program of sorts. Interesting. My question is, do the points expire every year, or can we keep accumulating them?

  35. Badgerite says:

    Seriously? RCC! I like it. I might still be a practicing Catholic if I could have worn a t-shirt saying RCC on it.

  36. samizdat says:

    That’s not a bad list, nicho.

  37. 2patricius2 says:

    Their sale was also used to build St. Peter’s Basilica, and their sale was one of the triggers for the Protestant Reformation.

  38. Al says:

    Yeah, that doesn’t help. Still insane, purgatory and all.

  39. Al says:

    Thank you Catholic Church for reminding us time to time that you are just as goof ball effed up as Mormonism, Scientology, and Christian Science.

  40. nicho says:

    No, they only get indulgences for uploading it to the bishop’s Flickr account.

  41. jomicur says:

    I wonder if priests can earn indulgences by looking at kiddie porn online.

  42. mind experiment says:

    There’s an exchange rate, obviously. Unfortunately, inflation in heaven has devalued karma to the degree that a lifetime of good deeds will only net you a few years off in purgatory, so it’s still best to just sign up for twitter and join the church. : P

  43. nicho says:

    Thanks for clarifying the hysterically nonsensical superstition.

  44. olandp says:

    And people actually believe this shit?

  45. TheOriginalLiz says:

    The social media equivalent of selling indulgences … still the same old catholic church

  46. kingstonbears says:

    July 21st., eh? Father, forgive me for what I’m about to do!

  47. zorbear says:

    I don’t see the difference between this and the age-old practice of buying your loved ones out of purgatory. The price has gotten cheaper, that’s all…

  48. HeartlandLiberal says:

    This reminded me of the jingle I learned decades ago in grad school, while studying history of Germanic language / literature.

    “As soon as a coin in the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs”

    From Wikipedia on Indulgences:

    The scandalous conduct of the “pardoners” was an immediate occasion of the Protestant Reformation.[6] In 1517, Pope Leo X offered indulgences for those who gave alms to rebuild St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The aggressive marketing practices of Johann Tetzel in promoting this cause provoked Martin Luther to write his Ninety-Five Theses, condemning what he saw as the purchase and sale of salvation.
    In Thesis 28 Luther objected to a saying attributed to Tetzel: “As soon
    as a coin in the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs”.[53]
    The Ninety-Five Theses not only denounced such transactions as worldly
    but denied the Pope’s right to grant pardons on God’s behalf in the
    first place: the only thing indulgences guaranteed, Luther said, was an
    increase in profit and greed, because the pardon of the Church was in
    God’s power alone.[54]

  49. Thom Allen says:

    “Many times in the past, the RCC forced people to pay for blessings, indulgences and other “spiritual” tokens. So this is a definite improvement.” – Father Simony LeGreed, S.J.

    This is probably a Jeusitical move to get those unrepentant, loosely practicing Catholics back into the fold. The RCC has been suffering from decreasing membership (in the Americas and Europe), lower attendance at Mass and less cash flowing in. With this move, repent and then with just a couple of Tweets and all is forgiven. You can come back to Mass and donate with a clean conscience. And, as long as you don’t tell the priest that you’re using birth control, voted for Obama, are gay, then “all shall be well, all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”

  50. I find myself in the strange position of clarifying Catholic doctrine. After forgiveness of sin in confession (or even the direct route), there is a temporal punishment left. In that case, one must do additional penance. All this indulgence does is remove the punishment, which would be purged in purgatory.
    Someone once reminded me that purgatory is actually delayed salvation, for one does not go to hell from purgatory.

    Since the Reformation, indulgences have not been for money, so this announcement continues the tradition. Other indulgences has been to pray for deceased relatives, usually on All Souls’ Day (2 November). In any case (as Martin Luther once noted), one must be repentant to receive an indulgence. It must be after forgiveness of sin.

  51. BeccaM says:

    Good lord… is this a LARP reenactment of the plot of Kevin Smith’s “Dogma”?

    They’d better keep an eye out for fallen angel Bartleby…

    (In case you’re wondering, the concept of plenary indulgence is core to the entire plot.)

    As someone who was raised Catholic, the idea you can earn forgiveness for sins to the tune of removing what we were told could be centuries of experienced time in Purgatory — not by doing good deeds or making amends or even truly being repentant — feels like utter heresy. It’s candy being given out to children who are being rewarded even if they didn’t behave.

    Anyway, if ever I needed more proof that a fallible human has and deserves no dominion over the ultimate destiny of my eternal soul — even assuming such a thing exists — I’d say this does the job.

  52. neil allen says:

    #worst #twitter #follower #scam #ever

  53. nicho says:

    If you can get one million “likes” on Facebook, he’ll make you a saint.

  54. nicho says:

    Perfect natural happiness. So, beer, weed, sex, and chocolate cake. Sign me up.

  55. Moderator3 says:


  56. Monoceros Forth says:

    *scowls* The humanities scholar in me (and I was one once) doesn’t care for this snide attitude. I wouldn’t want people to be sloppy in their discussion of the events of Shakespeare plays either even though they are totally and undoubtedly imaginary.

  57. Ninong says:

    Do we have to offer a stipend to the moderator in a plain white envelope?

  58. Ninong says:

    Statistically speaking, San Francisco is the gayest city in the world but Rio de Janeiro is second, so I guess we’ll all be…

  59. TonyT says:

    I went to Catholic grade school and remember rejected this bullshit by 3rd grade. Made it out of there by 7th grade for the public jr. high and never looked back.

  60. Ninong says:

    Unbaptized babies can’t go to Heaven. They have to go to Limbo. They didn’t change that. That has been official dogma for ages.

  61. Dave of the Jungle says:

    Well, isn’t that special?

  62. Ninong says:

    Nothing happened to Limbo. They still have Limbo for unbaptized babies.

  63. AdmNaismith says:

    How would God kow if I watched World Youth Day on-line?

    Waaaait…are God AND the NSA reading my e-mails? I don’t know which I find more disturbing.

  64. nicho says:

    Can we get partial indulgences for posting on Americablog?

  65. cole3244 says:

    twitter now, and don’t forget the old standby money to get a marriage annulled or be saved from burning in hell as the agents (priests) of god do their duty and save the flock, while raising money and of course partaking of the flesh of those delicious altar boys.

  66. Reasor says:

    Yes, it’s vital to the discussion that we all get our imaginary facts right!

  67. Phil says:

    “How low can you go………?”

  68. Monoceros Forth says:

    Dante has the correct picture: Purgatory is a mountain that must be scaled. It might take a long while but eventually you do reach the top.

  69. Tatts says:

    Hey, everybody! Party at Elrey’s rockpile. I’ll bring the brimstone and chips.

  70. Monoceros Forth says:

    You mean the Farnese Collection?

  71. Tatts says:

    No, Purgatory is NOT “eternal and all” at all.

    Hell, limbo, and heaven are eternal; purgatory is just a temporary stop on the way to heaven. Hell and limbo are dead ends.

    You really should understand this stuff before you post. You need to brush up on their fairly tale mumbo jumbo.

  72. JP_Melle says:

    Perfectly in line with the Church’s entire infallible history – I’m just glad they’re not going to let themselves be changed by the digital age.

  73. Thom Allen says:

    WAIT! Don’t pass this one up. We can all go to Rio, sin wildly and not have to atone for it. I’m packing!

  74. karmanot says:

    “Oh, and whatever happened to Limbo?” They lowered the bar so low that even unbaptized burning babies couldn’t get in.

  75. karmanot says:

    “in order for Catholics to earn years off of their time in purgatory,” OMG, that’s hilarious, considering Purgatory is eternal and all.

  76. Bill_Perdue says:

    Indulgences used to cost an arm and a leg.

  77. Phil says:

    How’s about you just nix my time on twitter in exchange for an eternity in purgatory. It can’t be any worse than dealing with this nonsense.

    Oh, and whatever happened to Limbo? That didn’t sound like such a bad deal, just like heaven, but without the religiosity!

  78. leathersmith says:

    what about my extensive porn collection?

  79. Indigo says:

    That’s great! Does it work for karma too, or is that a separate department?

  80. silas1898 says:

    I hear Dana Carvey doing Church Lady. “How Conveeeeeeenient!”

  81. Monoceros Forth says:

    The Church has somehow managed to exceed the idiocy of Father George Carlin in the movie Dogma.

  82. Elrey says:

    Thanks anyway for the offer. But I’d rather just go straight to Hell. That’s where all my friends are.

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