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Flirting online is the devil's work and akin to flesh and blood adultery, the Catholic Church has declared.

Logging on for an amorous chat with someone other than your spouse amounts to online adultery and is a sin in the eyes of the Church,a ccording to Italy's top weekly Catholic mag Famiglia Cristiana (Christian Family).

Father Antonio Sciortino, the magazine's editor, got a letter from a female reader asking for moral guidance about infidelity on the Internet, but soon put this wannabe sinner in her place, The Times reports.

Could encounters on the Net not inject a bit of life into a flagging marriage? she asked the Father. The woman, who knew she was on a touchy subject and decided to remain anonymous, claimed these virtual meetings could be "good therapy for bored couples".

But the Church responded in true medieval style, branding surfers' visits to their cyber bits-on-the-side the same as the real thing.

"Evil thoughts are no less culpable than evil deeds," Sciortino fulminated from the pulpit (otherewise known as "Conversations with the Priest" advice column. He added that individuals who "log on with amorous intentions" must not kid themselves that surfing the Internet will wash their sins away.

"For Christians there can be no moral difference between a virtual affair and a flesh and blood betrayal."

So what are you waiting for? If you've already sinned online in the eyes of the Lord, you may as well go out and get laid. You're going straight to Hell anyway. And that's official. ®

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