First Posted: Jul 19, 2013 12:11 PM EDT

(Photo : Wikipedia)

Pope Francis has revolutionized the Roman Catholic Church in many ways and now he's going after the world of social networks. It has been announced through the Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary publication that the Pope may forgive sins through Twitter, to encourage those that cannot afford to see him in Brazil to follow him through the TV or Internet.

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The official announcement will be made next week during the World Youth Day 2013, which will take place in Brazil July 23-28 with the presence of millions of young people around the world. The initiative is to give "collective forgiveness" only to the Pope's followers on Twitter that have previously confessed their sins, have been absolved by a priest and have attended Mass. They may tune in the World Youth Day broadcasts and receive special papal indulgence, which can reduce the time a soul spends in purgatory. 

According to iEnterate.com, many theologians have criticized the measure because it "distances the person of the priest, the only mediator between God and man," said one Vatican analyst. "You do not get an indulgence as you get a coffee from a machine," said Archbishop Claudio María Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

"It's not enough just to watch a mass online or follow Pope Francis via live streaming on your iPad or by connecting to Pope2You.net. These are just devices. What really counts is that the tweet that the Pope will send from Brazil or the photos from World Youth Day produce genuine spiritual fruit in the heart of the person," said Celli.

According to the Courier Mail, Monsignor John Kennedy told Vatican Radio that indulgences referred to God's kindness in forgiving the effects of sins. "They are linked to a theme that Pope Francis has spoken very frequently about since the moment of his election - that is to say, to the gift of God's mercy," Kennedy said.

On July 9, the Pope released a decree about indulgences and social media, according to Tennesean.com. "The faithful who on account of a legitimate impediment cannot attend the aforementioned celebrations may obtain Plenary Indulgence under the usual spiritual, sacramental and prayer conditions, in a spirit of filial submission to the Roman Pontiff, by participation in the sacred functions on the days indicated, following the same rites and spiritual exercises as they occur via television or radio or, with due devotion, via the new means of social communication," the Pope stated.

The Pope's Twitter account is @Pontifex and has over 2,600,000 followers, while its Spanish version is @Pontifex_es has nearly three million followers worldwide.

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