Pope offers Twitter users time off from purgatory -

A Papal court has ruled that contrite Catholics may win time off from purgatory if they follow Pope Francis on Twitter.

However, a court of the Catholic church warned that that the faithful cannot obtain lesser punishment just by 'chatting online'.

According to the press in Rome, it is all a plan to keep ahead with the times. Because Twitter is very now.

The church's granted indulgences reduce the time Catholics believe they will have to spend in purgatory after they have confessed and been absolved of their sins.

Purgatory is where you go if you are not good enough for heaven and not bad enough for hell. It is a little like Slough.

These days the idea of a loving god torturing people for eternity or purifying them with fire in the flames of purgatory is similar to liking Dick Cheney's approach to waterboarding people and locking them up without trial. It seems that the Catholic Church can get people to accept that particular doctrine if it modernises it with tweets.

Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, head of the pontifical council for social communication, told the Italian daily Corriere della Sera that just collecting the tweets is not enough. You still need a dose of faith.

Indulgences are not like getting a coffee from a vending machine, Celli said. They are only granted to those who carry out certain tasks such as climbing the Sacred Steps, in Rome. This gives you seven years off purgatory, eight if you buy the t-shirt.

Attendance at events such as the Catholic World Youth Day, in Rio de Janeiro, a week-long event starting on 22 July, can also win an indulgence.

Anyway, the court, which handles the forgiveness of sins, has also extended the privilege to those following the "rites and pious exercises" of the event on television, radio and through social media.

That includes following Pope Francis' Twitter account. But you must be following the events live. It is not as if you can get an indulgence by chatting on the internet.

So that's one schism which has been cleaned up before Martin Luther gets to complain about Paypal, sorry, Papal indulgences.