Vatican using Telegram app for Lent messages
Pope Francis guiding Catholics through Telegram app for Lent Getty

The Vatican is using the Telegram messaging app, rather than WhatsApp that was used in 2015, to share Lent messages. It is not yet known why the Vatican made the switch, considering WhatsApp is a much bigger platform than Telegram in terms of users.

WhatsApp recently reached the milestone of one billion users around the world. The announcement comes directly from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who said that the WhatsApp community had more than doubled since joining Facebook.

Users can add channel @pgpompei to their Telegram to receive the religious messages all the way through Easter. According to Quartz, the organisers of "Kep Lent" campaign have been encouraging subscribers to download Telegram, saying it is "like WhatsApp, but better."

In the first message using the app, the 79-year-old Pope commended people doing good. The Pope said, "When we do something good, sometimes we are tempted to seek praise and to be rewarded: that's human glory. But it's a false reward because it makes us focus on what others think of us."

The Telegram channel had more than 5,600 subscribers on 11 February. Telegram in its response to the campaign's progress told BBC that it welcomed the news.

Telegram allows users to send encrypted messages. It allows creating a group of up to 1,000 people or channels for broadcasting to a wide audience.

The Telegram app had been at the centre of a controversy when in 2015 the Islamic State (Isis) said that it is using the app to disseminate propaganda to thousands of followers. Investigation into the Paris attacks revealed that attackers used Telegram and WhatsApp to lay out the plan to communicate among themselves. Following criticism, Telegram blocked as many as 78 channels related to the IS (Daesh) in November 2015.