Indulgence Anybody?

Would you believe it? Tetzel’s back in town…

Pope Benedict XVI is offering relief from purgatory to Roman Catholics who travel to Lourdes over the next year, the Vatican said yesterday.

Pilgrims to the shrine in south-west France will receive “plenary indulgences” from the Pontiff, which the Church says reduce the time spent being “washed” of sin after death. The indulgences will be available from this weekend until Dec 8, 2008.

The Church teaches that people who do not go directly to heaven must spend time in purgatory, where they can be purified of residual sin.

It is the latest initiative to get more pilgrims to the shrine, famous for the reported healing properties of its water. In August the Vatican opened an airline service offering pilgrims direct flights from Rome to Lourdes.

For those who cannot make the journey to France, the Pope will also grant indulgences to Catholics who pray at places of worship dedicated to the Madonna of Lourdes from Feb 2 to Feb 11. Indulgences may also be granted under special circumstances to people too sick to visit the shrine, the Vatican said.

The offer comes as the shrine prepares to commemorate the 150th anniversary of when the Madonna was said to have appeared to a peasant girl in 1858.

The Pope is expected to visit next year, possibly in September or October.

Hat-tip the man in a shed

4 Comments on “Indulgence Anybody?

  1. Pope Benedict XVI is offering relief from purgatory to Roman Catholics who travel to Lourdes over the next year, the Vatican said yesterday.

    Pilgrims to the shrine in south-west France will receive “plenary indulgences” from the Pontiff, which the Church says reduce the time spent being “washed” of sin after death. The indulgences will be available from this weekend until Dec 8, 2008.

    Now see… this is the type of thing that us Protestants just don’t understand at all. [shaking my head]

    Kitty

    • Dear Kitty,

      I’m a Chistian Brothers- and Jesuit-educated American living in the UK and I don’t understand it either. We learned in Religion that one of the downfalls of the RC church a long time ago was that they got involved in selling indulgences. This one looks to me like the same thing, updated to today’s modernism and offering what amounts to Indulgence Travel Vouchers.
      What I’m wondering is whether if I go via Ryanair or Alitalia or the new Papal Lourdes airline, whether I will be able to bring a non-believer along and have him/her cleansed of ‘residual sins’, whatever they are. I also wonder whether I will get the full indulgence if I use Tesco Vouchers to pay for the flights. And will I qualify for Frequent Flyer Miles?
      It’s all a bit undefined at the moment.

      Indulgently yours,
      Anselm

  2. My dear friend Peter+,

    The Holy Roman Catholic Church has never annulled its theology regarding the nature and use of indulgences. It is quite coherent and consistent within the network of teachings of the Magisterium on matters soteriological. The sale of indulgences is indeed repugnant, but pilgrimages are ‘something completely different’ (yes, think John Cleese).

    The warrant for indulgences is actually quite involved with the Confession of Faith of Commissioning as Pope of your own patron saint, dear Petros/Cephas. Please read the following by an excellent writer, once an Evangelical Protestant missionary, now a Catholic apologist. Dave Armstrong’s A Biblical Defense of Catholicism (Manchester, New Hampshire: Sophia Institure Press, 2003) ought to be on the shelf of any Protestant, adducing Luther or otherwise, who claims the biblical superiority of their variously permutating ‘ecclesial communities’ over against the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church founded by Christ:

    http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2007/09/explicit-biblical-evidence-for.html

    And the respective reference explaining and defending Indulgences in The Catechism of the Catholic Church:

    X. INDULGENCES

    1471 The doctrine and practice of indulgences in the Church are closely linked to the effects of the sacrament of Penance.

    What is an indulgence?

    “An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints.”81

    “An indulgence is partial or plenary according as it removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin.”82 The faithful can gain indulgences for themselves or apply them to the dead.83

    The punishments of sin

    1472 To understand this doctrine and practice of the Church, it is necessary to understand that sin has a double consequence. Grave sin deprives us of communion with God and therefore makes us incapable of eternal life, the privation of which is called the “eternal punishment” of sin. On the other hand every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory. This purification frees one from what is called the “temporal punishment” of sin. These two punishments must not be conceived of as a kind of vengeance inflicted by God from without, but as following from the very nature of sin. A conversion which proceeds from a fervent charity can attain the complete purification of the sinner in such a way that no punishment would remain.84

    1473 The forgiveness of sin and restoration of communion with God entail the remission of the eternal punishment of sin, but temporal punishment of sin remains. While patiently bearing sufferings and trials of all kinds and, when the day comes, serenely facing death, the Christian must strive to accept this temporal punishment of sin as a grace. He should strive by works of mercy and charity, as well as by prayer and the various practices of penance, to put off completely the “old man” and to put on the “new man.”85

    In the Communion of Saints

    1474 The Christian who seeks to purify himself of his sin and to become holy with the help of God’s grace is not alone. “The life of each of God’s children is joined in Christ and through Christ in a wonderful way to the life of all the other Christian brethren in the supernatural unity of the Mystical Body of Christ, as in a single mystical person.”86

    1475 In the communion of saints, “a perennial link of charity exists between the faithful who have already reached their heavenly home, those who are expiating their sins in purgatory and those who are still pilgrims on earth. between them there is, too, an abundant exchange of all good things.”87 In this wonderful exchange, the holiness of one profits others, well beyond the harm that the sin of one could cause others. Thus recourse to the communion of saints lets the contrite sinner be more promptly and efficaciously purified of the punishments for sin.

    1476 We also call these spiritual goods of the communion of saints the Church’s treasury, which is “not the sum total of the material goods which have accumulated during the course of the centuries. On the contrary the ‘treasury of the Church’ is the infinite value, which can never be exhausted, which Christ’s merits have before God. They were offered so that the whole of mankind could be set free from sin and attain communion with the Father. In Christ, the Redeemer himself, the satisfactions and merits of his Redemption exist and find their efficacy.”88

    1477 “This treasury includes as well the prayers and good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They are truly immense, unfathomable, and even pristine in their value before God. In the treasury, too, are the prayers and good works of all the saints, all those who have followed in the footsteps of Christ the Lord and by his grace have made their lives holy and carried out the mission in the unity of the Mystical Body.”89

    Obtaining indulgence from God through the Church

    1478 An indulgence is obtained through the Church who, by virtue of the power of binding and loosing granted her by Christ Jesus, intervenes in favor of individual Christians and opens for them the treasury of the merits of Christ and the saints to obtain from the Father of mercies the remission of the temporal punishments due for their sins. Thus the Church does not want simply to come to the aid of these Christians, but also to spur them to works of devotion, penance, and charity.90

    1479 Since the faithful departed now being purified are also members of the same communion of saints, one way we can help them is to obtain indulgences for them, so that the temporal punishments due for their sins may be remitted.

    http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p2s2c2a4.htm

    Blessings to you,
    D+

  3. Corrigendum:

    The warrant for indulgences is actually quite involved with the Confession of Faith and Commissioning as Pope of your own patron saint…

    And if someone is claiming evidence for apparitions of Blessed Johann Tetzel, I wanna know about it, because I’m there, man! Hopefully via RyanAir (founded in part to facilitate pilgrimages to Knock, Ireland — ah what a lovely place ’tis that!)

    DJ+

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