With Catholics across the globe getting ready to give up indulgences like chocolate for Lent, the Pope has urged followers to be kinder online.
Addressing tens of thousands of worshippers in St Peter’s Square in Rome on Ash Wednesday, Pope Francis said there was too much “verbal violence” that was “amplified by the internet”.
As a result, he asked that people give up trolling others on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
Pope Francis said: “We live in an atmosphere polluted by too much verbal violence, too many offensive and harmful words, which are amplified by the internet.
“Today, people insult each other as if they were saying good day…
“We are inundated with empty words, with advertisements, with subtle messages. We have become used to hearing everything about everyone and we risk slipping into a worldliness that atrophies our hearts.”
He added that Lent was “a time to give up useless words, gossip, rumours, tittle-tattle and speak to God on a first name basis”.
Ash Wednesday marks the start of the 40 days leading up to Easter, where Catholics traditionally give up certain indulgences for the season.
Catholics are also asked to reflect and carry out more good deeds for the needy.