According to Catholic belief, individuals who are not “good” enough to make it to Heaven, and not “bad” enough to be damned to Hell, get to “do time” in Purgatory where the “temporal punishment” remaining after confessing and being absolved of sin is “purged”.
In medieval times the church began the practice of granting “indulgences”. After confessing and being absolved of sin, the indulgences granted reduce the amount of time one spends in purgatory, where one’s sins are weighed after death.
“The notion of indulgence is that you’ve already been forgiven for your sin, because you’ve gone to confession, at least in theory, but what it does is reduce the amount of time you have to spend in purgatory after you die to work off that sin,” according to Patrick Hornbeck, chair of the department of Theology at Fordham University in The Bronx.
Keeping up with the times, the Vatican has announced it will be offering indulgences to Twitter followers of the Pope’s social media account: https://twitter.com/pontifex .
Hornbeck continues: “The way indulgences were originally conceived as is you do some kind of religious work. So you say a particular prayer, you go on pilgrimage to a particular place, you state a particular mass, or whatever that might be.”
“What’s new about this announcement is the migration onto Twitter, and to say that’s it’s possible to follow these events in Brazil on World Youth Day through an electronic medium rather than going there yourself,” said Hornbeck.
(Aware that some Catholics may not be able afford to travel to Brazil with the Pope, where World Youth Day is being held from July 23-28, and perhaps also in an effort to modernize himself, Pope Francis is making this first-time offer to the faithful who follow the events in Rio de Janeiro online.)
The Pope has almost 2.7 million followers on Twitter
(acknowledgement to CBS News and Wikipedia)