What's the Latest Development?

With Catholic World Youth Day events set for next week in Rio de Janeiro, the Vatican wants to make sure that those who can't attend personally can still get credit, so to speak, for following the events on broadcast and Internet media: The judicial body that handles the forgiveness of sins says that doing so can win the faithful an indulgence, which equates to a reduction of time spent in purgatory. However, it's not enough just to have Pope Francis' tweets running in the background, according to the decree: "Praying while following events...online would need to be carried out with 'requisite devotion'."

What's the Big Idea?

Faithful Catholics believe that if they die having been absolved of their sins, they will spend a limited amount of time in purgatory before entering heaven. Indulgences, which they believe will shorten that time, have a long and controversial history within the church. However, in an age when the pope himself is electronically connected to millions of the faithful around the world, the Vatican has found itself adapting accordingly. Ultimately, says one official, "What really counts is that the tweets the Pope sends from Brazil...produce authentic spiritual fruit in the hearts of everyone."

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Read it at The Guardian