Court in charge of forgiveness of sins says those that follow upcoming event via social media will be granted indulgences
Around 1.5 million are expected to flock to Rio de Janeiro to celebrate World Youth Day with the Argentine pontiff later this month. But for those who can’t make it to Brazil, forgiveness may be available to contrite sinners who follow Francis’s progress via their TV screen or social networks.
The Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary, the Vatican court that rules on the forgiveness of sins, has said that indulgences may be given to those who follow the “rites and pious exercises” of the event on television, radio and through social media.
The Penitentiary said that Pope Francis' Twitter account, which has already gathered seven million followers, would be one such medium.
Vatican officials, noted however, that to obtain indulgences over the internet or otherwise, believers would first have to confess their sins, offer prayers and attend Mass.
“You can't obtain indulgences like getting a coffee from a vending machine,” Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, head of the pontifical council for social communication, told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.
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Mike Gendron of Proclaiming the Gospel Ministries, a former Roman Catholic, told Christian News Network that the entire concept of offering and granting indulgences is unbiblical.
“The Vatican’s plan of salvation is diametrically opposed to the Gospel of grace–the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ,” he stated. “And so, to offer indulgences for being involved or [following the Pope via] a Twitter account is so absurd, because the Bible clearly says without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin.”
Gendron also said that the teaching of purgatory is false doctrine and is an insult to the Gospel.
“Purgatory denies the efficacy of the blood of Christ, because we read in 1 John 1:7 that the blood of Jesus Christ purifies us from all sin,” he explained. “We also see in Hebrews 1:3 that when Jesus made purification for our sins, He sat down at the right hand of God in Heaven. So, if Catholics would only trust in the blood of Jesus, they would realize that purgatory is a fraud.”
When asked if it is common for Roman Catholics to seek out indulgences, Gendron advised that for years many have indeed carefully followed instructions from Rome in order to reduce their purported purification time in purgatory.
“At the turn of the millennium, John Paul II offered a plenary indulgence for anybody that would walk through the holy doors in the Vatican,” he outlined. “So, there were all kinds of Catholics getting on airplanes to travel to the Vatican to walk through those doors so that they could have their sins forgiven.”
He said that Catholics should be mindful to “test every man’s teaching” and to “appeal to the word of God” as their final authority instead of looking to man. Gendron also urged Christians to use the matter as an opportunity to reach out to the Catholics around them.
“The best thing that we can do is point Roman Catholics to the Scriptures [and] show them that [the system of purgatory and indulgences] is a fraud,” he explained. “Show them that it’s a false teaching and call upon them to trust in Christ and His blood for the complete forgiveness of sins.”
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