An Italian cardinal working inside the Vatican has described Jesus Christ as the world’s first tweeter, saying that his messages were “brief and full of meaning” with his key messages – like the memorable “Love one another” – being under 45 characters.
The cardinal, Gianfranco Ravasi, is the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture and made the remarks in a press conference on Thursday, according to British newspaper The Independent. He also emphasised the role modern technology can play in the Church, saying a pastor or clergyman is “defying their duty” if they are not using it to communicate with the laypeople.
The Catholic Church has embraced social media, launching a Twitter account last year under Pope Benedict XVI. However, while the account has been used purely to tweet messages from the current pope, Pope Francis (he doesn’t actually write them, but reportedly approves them); he has indicated that it could be used for a spiritual purpose also.
In July, Pope Francis hinted that he was considering granting an indulgence to his three million Twitter followers. An indulgence is a concept in Catholicism which allows a person to spend less time in purgatory to ‘purify’ them before reaching Heaven. It does not absolve them from the sin, however.
It is not uncommon for the Vatican to issue an indulgence though a communications medium. Those listening or watching the Urbi et Orbi, the papal address and blessing usually around Christmas and Easter, also receive an indulgence.