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Cut your time in purgatory by following pope on Twitter

If you need an indulgence for your sins, follow the pontiff at Catholic World Youth Day. But your click should come from the heart.

Pope Francis
Pope Francis waves to the faithful as he arrives at his summer residence in Castelgandolfo, Italy, on Monday.
Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images

If you're Christian, you might believe the keys to salvation are faith and good works. But a little Twitter might help get you to the Pearly Gates too.

You can now reduce the time your everlasting soul has to spend in purgatory by following tweets from Pope Francis and Catholic World Youth Day, an event held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, that the pontiff will attend later this month.

The policy is a form of indulgence, a centuries-old tradition in the Catholic Church in which the temporal punishment for absolved sins is relieved. Since it's a plenary indulgence, a believer gets total remission of sins and relief from penitence.

But that doesn't mean you just click on "follow" and sin at will, according to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

"Get it out of your heads straight away that this is in any way mechanical, that you just need to click on the Internet in a few days' time to get a plenary indulgence," the daily quoted Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, as saying.

"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."

"Then even a youngster who is a very long way from Brazil and feels involved by a video, a simple text message, or an e-mail will be truly taking part in the World Youth Day and will receive the gift of the indulgence."

The report quotes a Catholic decree concerning World Youth Day that says the faithful "can obtain the plenary indulgence...by the new means of social communication."

It went on to quote Paolo Padrini, a Catholic scholar known as the "iPriest" for always being online.

"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."

(Via The Guardian)