July 17th, 2013
07:45 PM ET

Sorry, retweeting the pope won't get you out of hell

Opinion by the Rev. James Martin, SJ, special to CNN

(CNN) –Here were the tantalizingly weird headlines: “Follow pope online, get to heaven sooner - Facebook likes don't count.” “Cut your time in purgatory by following pope on Twitter.” And, worst of all, from Slate: “Pope now offering indulgences in exchange for Twitter followers.”

Similar headlines popped up on more than 190 news sources on Wednesday.

Ha ha. Is the Catholic Church offering time off in hell– or purgatory, depending on the website - just for checking your Twitter feed every few hours? Is the church really that dumb? And here I thought Pope Francis was cool, or as Esquire recently termed him, “awesome.”

This is (another) case of how the media misunderstands and misreports a story from “The Vatican.”

Here’s how it seemed to have happened.

On June 24, the Apostolic Penitentiary (the Vatican office that deals with matters concerning sin,) issued a document that said the faithful who attend the upcoming World Youth Day in Brazil would receive a “plenary indulgence” for their efforts during pilgrimage.

That’s a traditional Catholic term for the full remission of the “temporal punishment” in the afterlife due to sin. The theological idea is that by doing good works on earth, or by engaging in pious practices like a pilgrimage, you can help “work off” some of the temporal punishments that may await you after death.

But just from checking Twitter every few hours? Let’s leave aside the very complicated theology of the plenary indulgence for a moment, and see how this story got out of hand.

The Vatican’s original document offered an indulgence for those who complete a pilgrimage. That’s fairly common. A few years ago, when I made a pilgrimage to the French shrine of Lourdes, one could work towards an indulgence by visiting certain holy sites and praying there.

Once again, the idea is making reparation in penance for your sins. To take a homey example, if you’re a student who talks too much in class, your teacher might ask you to clean the blackboards instead of failing you. To avoid a big punishment you make amends for your mistakes.

But there’s more: the Vatican document noted that the faithful at World Youth Day must be “truly repentant and contrite.” In other words, they must undertake the pilgrimage in a true spirit of repentance. Be sorry for their sins. That’s common, too.

At the end of the document, the Vatican noted that it was not just pilgrims to whom this applied, but another, newer, group: those who might participate “with due devotion, via the new means of social communication.”

Why did the Vatican include that category? As I see it, to be inclusive, something people often accuse the church of not being.

For those who cannot travel to Brazil, because of financial limitations or health restrictions, it's a way of welcoming them.

To my mind, it’s a generous way of inviting people into the Masses, prayers and liturgies during the World Youth Day. Why wouldn’t you want to include the sick, the poor and the elderly in the community of pilgrims? And why wouldn’t you want to help them participate via the web?

So how did this get so focused on Twitter?

Well, it would seem that The Guardian got hold of “a source” in the Vatican who said, “That includes following Twitter.”

Now, who was the source? We are not told. But that was enough for the headline writers at the Guardian to write: “Vatican offers `time off purgatory' to followers of Pope Francis tweets.”

That’s already doubly inaccurate. Because, first of all, even the “source” said it’s not enough to just follow the pope on Twitter (as the headline misleadingly stated).

"But you must be following the events live,” he told the Guardian, “It is not as if you can get an indulgence by chatting on the Internet.”

Second, in that same article Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, head of the Pontifical Council for Social Communication, was quoted as telling the Italian daily Corriere della Sera: "You can't obtain indulgences like getting a coffee from a vending machine."

In other words: the original document, the “source” and Archbishop Celli all said the opposite of what the headlines said.

That is, it’s not enough simply to follow the pope on Twitter. It’s not even enough to check his Twitter feed frequently. You need to be (a) contrite, (b) trying to follow the events at World Youth Day live and (c) performing these acts with “due devotion.”

In other words, the Vatican is clearly referring to prayerful participation in these events by men and women who could not otherwise go, through the various “new means of social communication.”

An example: A friend of mine was recently diagnosed with a serious form of cancer. After I told her that I would pray for her, I mentioned that the shrine of Lourdes had a 24-hour webcam in the famous Grotto, where Catholics believe the Virgin Mary appeared in 1858.

She e-mailed me a few days later to say that “visiting” the Grotto, via the web, had helped her to pray. It brought her a great sense of peace. This is the kind of “due devotion” that the Vatican has in mind, despite what the headlines might say.

The worst headline came from the normally careful Slate: Pope Francis is not offering indulgences “in exchange for Twitter followers.” He has plenty of Twitter followers. But he’d probably exchange a few hundred of them for headline writers who actually read the story.

James Martin is a Jesuit priest, editor at large at America magazine and author of "The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything." He tweets, but won't promise to get you out of purgatory, at @JamesMartinSJ .

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • Internet • News media • Pope Francis • Prayer

soundoff (481 Responses)
  1. ME II

    Aww, nuts! And I was saving up for a nice condo in purgatory.
    Guess I'd better get back to my exercises at the stations and rosary recitations.

    July 18, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      Not to worry. You have many options. The old guys in red dresses seem to think they control the creator of 600 se'xtillion stars. They're aren't arrogant or anything. No. Not at all.

      July 18, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
      • ME II

        Cool. Those are kind of interesting, in a(n) historical way. Thanks.

        July 18, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
  2. thom

    Just what we need. Another pope who believes in Voodoo. Purgatory? Limbo? No wonder the "Church" is losing members. I believe in God or a Supreme Being, but I do not believe in "RELIGIONS!" ALL "religions" are the devices of man to control the masses. There was no "purgatory" or "limbo" before religions or in the time of Christ. We made them up later. This pope is a nut.


    July 18, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • ME II

      I always find such statements rather odd.
      I mean I understand the point, but of the two, god and religion, religion is the one which actually has evidence of existence.

      July 18, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
  3. Roy

    I'm sure the pope didn't get God's approval first.

    July 18, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • sam

      That begs the question: how is the tally for time off being kept? And by who? Is there a cosmic scoreboard with numbers ticking away somewhere?

      July 18, 2013 at 11:43 am |
      • William Demuth

        I believe each "Like" one of your Facebook posts gets is one less needle in your eye.

        1000 likes is one less degree in temperature in your own burning lake

        July 18, 2013 at 11:59 am |
      • ME II

        There's service and app for updating accounts in "the cloud".

        July 18, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
  4. Alias

    Maybe we should just accept that is what jesus would do?

    July 18, 2013 at 11:36 am |
  5. Alias

    At least they aren't accepting cash after confessions any more.

    July 18, 2013 at 11:23 am |
  6. Laurence Charles Ringo

    Why do atheists love straw men arguments so much?

    July 18, 2013 at 10:37 am |
    • William Demuth

      You worship a savior made of straw and bull droppings, yet you question those who question him?

      You are a sycophant, merely parroting whatever absurdities you have been told.

      If you were born in Palestine, you would have already blown yourself up in a Pizzeria filled with little kids because you thought it was Gods will.

      Think! Stop being a mental slave.

      July 18, 2013 at 10:40 am |
      • someone had to

        William, I believe you just proved Laurence's point.

        July 18, 2013 at 10:54 am |
        • William Demuth

          Obviously, you can't grasp the obvious

          Perhaps a clearer explanation.

          Christ is the original straw man.

          July 18, 2013 at 11:08 am |
        • Lycidas

          Don't confuse willy.

          July 18, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
        • Bill Deacon

          Dang William. You are have a series of really bad posts. Maybe you need a break and a colonic or something.

          July 19, 2013 at 9:20 am |
    • Agnostickids

      Why do christians need to provoke people by insulting them, telling them that something they (chrstians) can't prove, exists, and everyone else is wrong?

      July 18, 2013 at 10:49 am |
      • My Dog is a jealous Dog

        I want to sell pet rapture insurance to fundamentalists.

        It is a simple premise, after the rapture we will send an atheist PETA member to your house to rescue and adopt your pets. For a one time low price of $100 up front.

        July 18, 2013 at 11:05 am |
        • My Dog is a jealous Dog

          sorry – posted under the wrong reply – it should be the next post about scams.

          July 18, 2013 at 11:06 am |
        • Jinx

          I am willing to bet that you could actually get people to buy that insurance. You should completely go for it.

          July 18, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
        • My Dog is a jealous Dog

          The downside is having to deal with PETA people – I find them to be even crazier than the fundamentalist christians.

          July 18, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
        • Brother Maynard

          "For $135, and $20 for each additional pet, Bart Centre's Eternal Earth-Bound Pets USA will have your pet picked up within 24 hours after the Rapture - guaranteed! - and adopted, Washington Post columnist John Kelly reports. So far more than 250 people, mostly in the Bible Belt, have taken Centre up on this. The contract is in effect for 10 years - good to know in case the May 21 prediction is off. If the 10 years expire before the Rapture comes, perhaps you can renew."

          full article

          July 18, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
      • William Demuth

        Because they want dominion over you.

        They lust for power and wealth, and will lie cheat and steal to get it.

        It's all about power, and exploiting others.

        July 18, 2013 at 11:24 am |
      • SAL

        You obviously haven't been reading other comments related to this article.

        July 18, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • AAAAHHHHhhhhhhh

      What straw man argument are you referring to? Is it the complete lack of evidence vs. the Christian's "argument" of "because the bible said so", or "I just know"?

      July 18, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • CommonSensed

      Says the kettle to the pot.

      July 18, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
  7. Just the Facts Ma'am...

    " you can help “work off” some of the temporal punishments that may await you after death." Man what a scam, a brilliant scam I admit if your purpose is to fleece millions of followers. It's just really sad to watch from any rational perspective.

    July 18, 2013 at 10:17 am |
  8. Colin

    Out of all the silly superst.itious beliefs of the Christians, I think the myth of hell is my favorite. Think it through. I don't have to kill, I don't have to steal, hell, I don't even have to litter. All I have to do is have a reasonable, honest and rational disbelief in the Christian god and he will inflict a grotesque penalty upon me an infinite times worse than the death penalty. And he loves me.

    Let's subject this "cherished Christian doctrine" to the probing light of say.......fifth grade mathematics.

    Approximately one hundred and ten thousand million (110,000,000,000) people have lived on Earth. Given all those who have, over the centuries, rejected the Christian god, or who have otherwise committed mortal sins, there must be literally thousands of millions of people burning for all eternity in the cosmic oven of hell set up by their all-loving god. Some must have been burning for thousands of years by now.

    About 100,000 people die every day. There must be a constant stream of thousands of forlorn souls every day into the one way pit of hell their “all-merciful” god set up and maintains.

    But, far, far worse than sheer overwhelming numbers is the extent of the punishment. There is no way out, no parole, no time off for good behavior. You don’t just burn, you burn for all eternity. Billions of people and thousands of daily new arrivals burning for all eternity!

    No criminal justice system in the history of the Human race, even those established by the most despotic of tyrants, comes close to matching the unfathomable barbarity of their “infinitely benevolent” god.

    Hitler murdered six million Jews in his concentration camps, but compared to the Judeo-Christian god, Hitler was a bleeding-hearted wimp. A goose-stepping girlie-man. Their “all-caring” god not only burns billions more than Hitler, Pol Pot and all other dictators and tyrants added up, he keeps doing so to them for all eternity! I would not wish a bad sunburn on a person simply because they have a different religion to me, let alone fry them for all eternity.

    It is also odd that their all-loving god is also all-knowing and knows which souls will go to hell before they do. He even knows it before they are born, and yet he still creates them. He is worse than a psychopathic teenager who breeds litter after litter of kittens so he can slowly roast them in ovens.

    That is the problem with using the same sky-fairy to be both the carrot and the stick. It quickly gets very, very silly. How they believe this utter garbage in the 21st century completely eludes me.

    July 18, 2013 at 9:40 am |
    • William Demuth


      I suspect your totals are low, but an interesting approach so lets use it for some math

      I also believe that heaven is limited to 144,000 people, so based on your numbers, I Believe the approx. odds of getting into heaven are about 736,888.8 to one and decreasing enormously day after day.

      Plus the souls of aborted children throw in a monkey wrench.

      Either they can NOT go to heaven and thus have purgatory or hell as their options.

      If they CAN go to heaven and are free of original sin (which comes at birth) then the ONLY souls in heaven are aborted babies.

      July 18, 2013 at 9:53 am |
      • someone had to


        Essentially your argument is, "Here is a belief that I once heard that a Christian had, and I will cast it in a manner that makes it sound crazy (or at least crazier than it is). Because at least one Christian believes that, therefore I have determined that I can impose my version of Christian belief on all Christians, because, you know, every Christian everywhere in the world believes what I say they believe. They are not free to believe what they will but must believe what *I* say they do, and what I say is they are crazy."

        Because "someone had to" say it.

        July 18, 2013 at 11:07 am |
      • William Demuth


        Either the Bible is or is not the direct representation of your Gods will.

        Clarify your position.

        We don't tolerate fence straddling here. Is Revelation your Gods intent or not?

        Or are you too much a coward to give a considered answer.

        Pray do tell.

        July 18, 2013 at 11:21 am |
        • someone had to

          Your comment fundamentally assumes a certain brand of Protestant belief. Thus your argument is:

          "Either you follow a certain interpretation of Christian belief about the Bible (that *I* define for you) or you are not Christian. So stop being a fence sitter! You either fit in the dirty little pigeon hole of belief that I have created for you, or you don't! *I* determine your beliefs, and if you don't like it *you* are being dishonest."

          July 18, 2013 at 11:27 am |
        • William Demuth

          Is the Bible fact, or is it not?

          Simple question.

          Pick any edition you want and we will talk.

          July 18, 2013 at 11:32 am |
        • Lycidas

          Time for the error in absolutes...either the Bible is 100% fact or it's not. It's easier for an atheist to say that since some of it isn't factual then the whole thing can be ignored. But any rational person knows that is incorrect.

          July 18, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
        • azalea17

          Dear me William that's a large leap, that "either-or" statement! Could it be that the Bible is a collection of nice attempts to illustrate to posterity what they believed and why? "Either – or" good grief!

          July 21, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • someone had to

      There are actually very few Christians who believe in exclusive salvation. There are many more who believe in universal salvation which makes you entire argument invalid. I am sure that if you tried hard enough you could find a Christian who believed in what you just wrote, but they are not representative of all Christians. To assume that all Christians believe what you have described is to be grossly misinformed about Christianity.

      July 18, 2013 at 11:00 am |
      • William Demuth

        The greatest percentage of Protestant sect believe the Bible is literal

        The Bible CLEARLY denotes the number, and it is Evangelized about constantly on the Rabid Dog Preacher channels.

        Are you trying to imply I am factually wrong, or that your Sky Fairy changed the Dogma and failed to CC some of us?

        July 18, 2013 at 11:07 am |
        • someone had to

          Considering that there are 2.5 billion Christians in the world and Protestants only make up 600-800 million of those, and the beliefs within Protestantism are not uniform, and the beliefs that you have been bashing represent a tiny minority of Protestants (though they are a non-insignificant minority within the US), to claim that ALL Christians are crazy for believing what you say is to grossly misunderstand Christian belief.

          I am not trying to "imply" that you are wrong, I am stating it quite clearly. You are factually wrong. (and yes you have been "CCed" on this "change", if you want to call it that. I would suggest you stop getting your information about religion from dog fights.)

          July 18, 2013 at 11:22 am |
        • William Demuth

          You once again avoid the question.

          Is your Bible accurate or not. You know, I know and the WORLD knows it is propaganda, rife with contra-indications to sanity.

          As far as my sources, I am at least as well informed of your cults beliefs as you are.

          You see your indoctrinated. Incapable of using logic. You avoid reality, probably due to a fear of death.

          Again I ask, is your Holy Rag divine or not?

          July 18, 2013 at 11:28 am |
        • someone had to


          I find it interesting and telling that you constantly are trying to tell me what I believe. For example, "I am at least as well informed of your cults beliefs as you are." Yet you have no indication of what I believe other than the fact that pointed out some major flaws in your argument. You don't even know if I am a Christian or not, or if I am what kind of Christian and what I believe. I will tell you this: This morning I woke up and read from my scriptures, but it was not from the Bible.

          Yet from no other information other than the fact that I pointed out that you were using poor arguments, you have claimed to know everything about my beliefs and understand clearly why they are false. This is an indication of a serious disregard on your part of the complexity of thought in the world. The fact that you so instantly resort to insult and derogatory terms is an indication that you have no interest with the truth or understanding what really is the case. You don't even leave the possibility of honest disagreement because you do not acknowledge the possibility that you do not know everything and that the way you portray Christian beliefs may not be correct.

          If I were to actually engage in a debate with you it would be entirely irrational and pointless, because the debate would not be about what is contained in the Bible, but by what is contained in your own mind. Given the subject matter (i.e. your own perception of the Bible and Christianity) I think that you would win on every point because there is no way that I can argue successfully on any point because "proof" would only be established by appeal to what you think on the subject. So essentially you have created an argument and are insisting on a debate where the subject of the debate is "What I think about the Bible". I am sure that you will insist that I am avoiding the subject, and on that point you are correct. I have no intention of stepping inside your head and debating you concerning the contents of the echo chamber of your mind. Because you have defined everything including what I know, what I have experienced in my life, and what my beliefs are, I see no way to win an argument that has been so thoroughly defined.

          I am sure that you will celebrate and say that you have won, but it is a small consolation considering that those of rational thought will see and compare what we have written and hopefully will agree with me that all things about Christianity (thankfully) are not defined by William Demuth.

          Because "someone had to" say it.

          PS: You have given me ample material to use for my next lecture on logical fallacies. Thanks, it was a big help, because you see normally logical fallacies on comment boards such as this are not so straight forward. But yours were phenomenal! They were in some cases perfect archetypes of logical fallacies. Now I don't have to make up as many fallacies to use as examples for my students. Your comments have been a big help. Perhaps I will assign a term paper on your comments.

          July 18, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
        • Jinx

          Let me guess. You teach at Liberty, right?

          July 18, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
        • someone had to

          Jinx, nope. I teach at a state school.

          July 18, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
        • William Demuth

          A penitentiary?

          Or a Special Ed variant?

          You couldn't teach rain to be wet.

          No wonder todays kids are failing

          July 18, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
        • God wears panties


          Looking past the hot air... wouldnt it have been easier to say "I cannot discuss facts/truth around something that requires faith. I simply have my perception and wishful thinking."

          July 18, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
      • Colin

        My comment is accurate even for those who do not believe in exclusive salvation. All I did was make a very simple extrapolation from two principles almost universally accepted by Catholics and most other Christians – (i) people who have committed certain sins, which have not been forgiven, go to hell forever; and (ii) about 110,000,000,000 people have ever lived.

        July 18, 2013 at 11:20 am |
      • Bill Deacon

        Someone had to make a concise and penetrating argument that aptly describes the typical atheist style of argument wherein they ignore their own paradigms of accurate data and logical consistency from outside any avowed Christian sympathy. And someone finally did.

        July 19, 2013 at 9:04 am |
        • someone had to

          Thanks Bill.

          July 19, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
      • Rodents for Romney

        The first gospel to be written, (Mark), said not one word about "salvation".
        Saul of Taurus cooked it up to compete with the Greek mystery cults.
        Jesus was an apocalyptic preacher, (one of many). His message was the end was nigh. It didn't\t happen. So they needed to find something to use as a "hook" to keep the cult going. Salvation. It makes NO sense in the context of Hebrew culture and thought, which had NO belief in immortality.

        July 19, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
  9. Bill Deacon

    Once again pope Francis shows a certain brilliance in getting the Catholic teaching into the popular dialogue. A good number of Catholics don't understand plenary indulgences and I suspect most people who are not Catholic have never even heard of them. The offer of plenary indulgences is often made for devout acts that draw the Catholic closer to the mysteries of the faith. They are a generous, simple and direct way to practice the faith. They provide a practical exercise in spiritual attainment with the hope of remission in the hereafter.

    July 18, 2013 at 9:09 am |
    • Agnostickids

      What evidence exists for your deity that doesn't exist for any others?

      Why would a perfect deity's divinely inspired work (bible) not be perfect and transcendent?

      What separates your faith from the faith of others that follow a different religion?

      Can you completely and accurately define the following? God, soul, faith, spirit?

      Who or what created god?

      Would you kill your only son if god asked you to?

      Religion is largely determined by culture and geography. Why would your god choose to save only those who live in certain areas?

      July 18, 2013 at 9:17 am |
      • Bill Deacon

        I understand you have questions that many people have asked over the centuries. But, is there anything in my post that makes you think I'm trying to answer them for you here?

        July 18, 2013 at 9:25 am |
        • Agnostickids

          Wow! Way to avoid reality bill!

          Yeah, um, your belief in a Christian god...surely you base it on something? You can't answer the questions? Neither can other followers similar to you....

          July 18, 2013 at 9:31 am |
        • William Demuth

          Deacon is not trying to answer them, he is implying they are irrelavent.

          When one declares something a mystery, it is a subtle attempt to encourage one to act of faith rather than investigate for the truth.

          This is the seduction of the ignorant. Ask no questions, ignore the man behind the curtain!!!

          You see Deacon wants to be perceived an expert in your eyes, but alas his only expertise is in nonsense.

          July 18, 2013 at 10:06 am |
        • Bill Deacon

          The libraries are full of theology and philosophy which you are free to use to answer your questions or you can remain ignorant at your leisure. My post was to show a trend I see by which pope Francis is engaging the world in a dialogue with the Church by means of statements which incite a curiosity about the faith. The broader questions you post as objections to belief in general are outside the scope of that comment and my experience is you're not really interested in the answers anyway are you?.

          July 18, 2013 at 10:13 am |
        • William Demuth


          I am ALWAYS interested in true answers, I have merely come to the conclusion that you don't have any to offer. I have studied your doctrines for half a century and know lies when I see them.

          Christian Mystery Theater was cancelled bye common sense, and the idea of using irrationalities as justification for your egocentric and ethnocentric bigotries are now considered passé!

          Gibberish will be called out moving forward, so if you intend to speak it here, expect to be challenged.

          July 18, 2013 at 10:19 am |
      • azalea17

        I can answer Question #2! God didn't write the Bible and drop it off on someone's doorstep to be published! People were intimately involved in the production of this manuscript from start to finish so it CAN'T be perfect! We can't even stay on topic here for crying out loud, and we have to inject our own little spin into the conversation! Also, puzzles and mysteries of any sort are far more interesting to people than straight dry facts. Leviticus and Kings are two of the dullest books in the Bible! The Gospel is far more interesting.

        July 21, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
    • Colin

      "The offer of plenary indulgences is often made for devout acts that draw the Catholic closer to the mysteries of the faith." The "mysteries of the faith" no doubt being some nauseating, totally self-generated nonsense like "how can there be three gods in the Trinity but yet only one god," or "what was the true nature of Jesus' incarnation."

      When you make something up, the boundaries of that literature will always appear as "mysteries" simply becuase the plot has not been written yet. This is why "divine mysteries" are nothing more than self-generated nonsense, no less purile than "did Paul Bunyan tire as he cut down his trees."

      July 18, 2013 at 9:44 am |
    • Agnostickids

      Bill, I've had my fill of church and it's propaganda in books, I'm asking YOU why you believe what you do.

      I can tell you why I'm Agnostic. Why can't you answer the questions I asked?

      You spend so much time on these boards, posting and soap-boxing, but you can't back your own statements. Don't you see that as a HUGE waste of your time and of ours?

      July 18, 2013 at 10:52 am |
    • Agnostickids

      Bill, I've had my fill of church and it's propaganda in books...look, I'm asking YOU why you believe what you do.

      I can tell you why I'm Agnostic. Why can't you answer the questions I asked?

      You spend so much time on these boards, posting and soap-boxing, but you can't back your own statements. Don't you see that as a HUGE waste of your time and of ours?

      July 18, 2013 at 10:53 am |
      • Alias

        It's not a total waste od time.
        I get some really good laughs when Bill thinks he is being intelligent and winning arguements.

        July 18, 2013 at 11:19 am |
  10. Agnostickids

    Science verses religion?

    What bible verse did they study to split the atom?

    How many "hail Mary's" did it take to put a man on the moon?

    Which prayer was it, again, that cured polio?

    What is Pope Francis doing for you and your loved ones?

    July 18, 2013 at 8:40 am |
    • William Demuth

      Actually, strapping ones rear end onto a Saturn V5 is about as close to a Hail Mary as I have ever heard.

      Luckily Saturn guided it well!

      July 18, 2013 at 8:45 am |
  11. Agnostickids

    If Christians pick and choose only the good parts of the bible....

    Didn't they already have morals prior to reading it?

    July 18, 2013 at 8:20 am |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      Most of them have never read the entire bible, just specific verses their local Ponzi scheme broker, i mean "Priest" tells them to look up each week which usually has something about giving your all to God and showing how much faith you have by giving, which is of course always followed by the plate as some sort of test of faith... "was that a $5? $10? $20? Come on now investors, don't you want to build up those rewards in heaven?" Funny how none of that money that goes in to the plate ever seems to find it's way to heaven... and a pretty secure deception if the investors can't check their balance until they die...

      July 18, 2013 at 10:25 am |
  12. Agnostickids

    Wow. To think that we live in a world where a church led by a simple man can still get away with bribing people to follow blindly and receive "temporal indulgences" in return.


    Seriously you catholics. Do you honestly think that humans are so low, so useless and so evil that everything they do must be forgiven? Do you really believe that your loving god would condemn it's children to eternal fire because of their imperfections that their "creator" put on earth in the first place? If you do, then no wonder people are becoming Atheists, Agnostics and leaving organized religion in droves. It's 2013, not 1300...wake up to the world already!

    July 18, 2013 at 8:16 am |
    • William Demuth

      Yup, you nailed it.

      They believe in Jeebus, and Honey Boo Boo as his prophet.

      We have some ignorant among the faithful for sure!

      July 18, 2013 at 8:46 am |
    • Colin

      Well said. Even by the virtually non-existent standards of religion, Catholicism stands out as childishly superst.itious. Grocery store brad and wine becoming flesh and blood; Jewish virgins being impregnated by anngels; a divine being reading minds; all 7 billion humans under 24/7/365 supervision; magic after death kingdoms like heaven, hell, limbo and pergutory that flash in and out of existence at the stroke of the Papal pen.

      Folly for old ladies and the dirt poor.

      July 18, 2013 at 9:50 am |
    • guest

      Yes, humans are “so low, so useless and so evil that everything [sinful] they do must be forgiven”. But this is not necessarily just a Catholic teaching, it is a biblical teaching. Unfortunately for you, and many others like you, you want what you ‘think’ is right, however because we humans are just finite human beings we cannot raise ourselves to the level of the intelligence. Man is condemned more for his unbelief and unfaithfulness than because of his sin. Being righteous is more than just being ‘good’; it involves the relationship we have with God; that is why there are some, although they may do sinful things are made righteous through faith. For example: Abraham lied to save his skin, none-the-less he sought forgiveness and had faith in God. King David committed adultery, but because of his faith and contrite confession he was counted as righteous. (Personally, I think King David was atrocious, but what I think doesn’t matter.) We are motivated to do what is right because we love God. By saying: “I don’t believe in God” and becoming atheistic because, “I can’t agree with what is said” does not change the truth.
      I’m not going into it right now, but this world is an ‘experiment in sin’. Because Satan accused God of being unfair, he rebelled and was cast out of Heaven, and now, because of the fall of Adam and Eve, sin entered into the world and each one of us are inheritors of the sinful nature of our parents. We sin. The whole universe is watching to learn what sin can do to God’s creatures. Look around you and see the results of sin. When the Earth’s cup of iniquity is full God will then put an end to it. Sin is the product of Satan.

      July 18, 2013 at 10:26 am |
      • William Demuth


        I lie all the time (I sell things) I have committed adultery and fornications untold, I have polluted my mind and my body with pharmaceuticals and I am gluttonous.

        You act like that's a bad thing? It is life itself, and I certainly don't need to be forgiven by you, OR your imaginary Sky Fairy

        July 18, 2013 at 10:29 am |
  13. Robbins Mitchell

    Next thing you know the Vatican will be selling indulgences....apostasy at its finest

    July 18, 2013 at 8:09 am |
  14. What would Jesus tweet?

    John 14:6

    July 18, 2013 at 8:06 am |
    • William Demuth

      Probably the same thing Anthony Weiner did.

      July 18, 2013 at 8:09 am |
  15. William Demuth

    How absurd

    The Pope is now a punishment banker for the unseen God?

    At what point does espousing nonsense become a crime?

    This Church is a Ponzi scheme and needs to be SMASHED.

    July 18, 2013 at 7:55 am |
  16. JesuswalkswithMe

    Even with this better explanation, it's still a massive failure by the Catholic Church. They also give these indulgences for climbing a specific flight of stairs!

    They are claiming to control rather than guide people into realms that the simple humans making these decisions can't possibly grasp or control.

    July 18, 2013 at 7:41 am |
    • Dark Itch

      Religion is designed for control. Especially the Abraham-based cults.

      July 18, 2013 at 8:11 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.