News & Opinion | February 27, 2020 1:05 pm

Pope Francis Wants You to Give Up Trolling for Lent

“Today, people insult each other as if they were saying ‘Good Day.’”

The Pope pointing his finger
Pope Francis begins Lent in St. Peter’s Square on Ash Wednesday.
Giuseppe Ciccia/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

The Christian observance of Lent began on Wednesday, which means many followers of the religion will be giving up some sort of luxury or vice until the Thursday before Easter. While many will adhere to traditional sacrifices — alcohol, meat, swearing — Pope Francis wants Catholics to do something harder: give up trolling. 

“We live in an atmosphere polluted by too much verbal violence, too many offensive and harmful words, which are amplified by the internet,” he said during his weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square on Ash Wednesday, as Reuters reports. “Today, people insult each other as if they were saying ‘Good Day.’”

The remarks were given to an audience of tens of thousands, and according to Reuters, they were “partially improvised.” While it seems to be a continuation of this Pope’s forward-looking, dare we say hip agenda, his particular choice of words may not connect with Gen Z believers.

He added that Lent “is a time to give up useless words, gossip, rumors, tittle-tattle.” You hear that, fellow kids? No more tittle-tattle!

While the Lenten recommendation wasn’t tied to any specific instance of trolling, Pope Francis — who has over 18 million Twitter followers — has been attacked on social media both from more liberal followers (over instances like the time he slapped a woman’s hand) and more conservative followers (for some initiatives attempting to bring Catholicism into the 21st century).

Even the Pope needs a digital detox once in a while.

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