Since 2013, Pope Francis has shown that he is a pope for the people. More modest than many of his predecessors, the 266th Roman Catholic pontiff has eschewed the trappings of wealth. He lives humbly in an apartment in the Vatican guesthouse, not at the Apostolic Palace. He doesn’t travel in the Vatican’s luxury vehicles, but prefers instead a more pedestrian Ford Focus. So it should be no surprise that the Pope has taken to Twitter and has amassed more than 10 million followers as of early 2017. In fact, before World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in 2013, the Pope offered plenary indulgences to his devout Twitter followers who could not attend, in much the same way that indulgences are offered to those who follow papal events via television or radio.
Tweeting to the faithful:
- In Catholicism, an indulgence is a way to reduce the amount of punishment one has to undergo for sins. It may reduce the punishment after death, in the process of purification called Purgatory.
- In medieval times, some misguided clerics and corrupt popes misused the concept of indulgences, promising eternal salvation to those who funded luxurious building projects.
- Pope Francis does not actually type his own tweets, but he supposedly does approve them.