Pope Francis grants Twitter and Pinterest followers 'time off purgatory'

Pope Francis to grant indulgences to Twitter followers Credit: Twitter

Young Catholics will be granted 'indulgences' for attending the Pope's first foreign trip later this month when he visits World Youth Day in Brazil.

But if Brazil is too far Catholics around the world can also benefit by following Pope Francis on Twitter and other social media according to a church official.

Indulgences are one of the Church's oldest traditions and allows believers to gain forgiveness and spend less time in purgatory and is usually gained through acts of faith.

However a leading Cardinal has said that for those who cannot make it to see the Pontiff in person can use "the new means of social communication" instead.

Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro is quoted in the Italian paper Corriere as saying:

However simply following the Pope's Twitter feed may not be enough and believers keen to make use of the online indulgences the posts must see them, "bear authentic spiritual fruit in the hearts of each one of us."