Indulgences: What’s old is new again

  • Article by: JEFF STRICKLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 23, 2009 - 11:33 PM

Indulgences -- a rite in the Roman Catholic Church that harkens back to the Middle Ages and the Reformation -- are making a return.

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bekoopMar. 24, 0912:06 AM

I've seen this simply incorrect statement in a number of recent articles about indulgences, most prominently in the NY Times. I assume the author of this article read the Times' article and simply regurgitated the error. The Church never stopped granting indulgences, though they certainly were explained differently to the faithful after Vatican II (most specifically when Pope Paul VI issued a handbook on indulgences in the 1970's, further illustrating that the Church never got rid of indulgences). Indulgences have been attached to a myriad of circumstances by the Church for years and years; some of the more special circumstances include Divine Mercy Sunday (first Sunday after Easter), certain pilgrimages, World Youth Day, etc. I went to Rome in the year 2000 for World Youth Day and a "plenary" (meaning "full") indulgence was associated with that pilgrimage by Pope John Paul II, provided the required conditions were met (as always). If anyone is truly interested in what indulgences are and are not, please see I'll try a link here but I'm not sure if the comment form accepts html or not: link As always, it is best to educate one's self about what the Catholic Church actually teaches, and why, from original source material if one is really interested in the truth. It's almost impossible for mainstream media to get a story completely right when it comes to the teachings of the Catholic Church. I do want to complement the author in terms of the priests that were quoted, they are two of the best in the archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and are very reputable sources. And the story as a whole was mostly accurate (save the big error regarding indulgences seeming to be something that has been "brought back" or somehow new this year, it's definitely not the case). The Year of St. Paul is just another case where the Church has associated an indulgence with a special event. God bless!

mstortureMar. 24, 0912:08 AM

Indulgences were done away with because of the abuses that went along with it: monetary gain, privilege, and a false sense of security that rote repetition of prayer can entreat God to forgive sins. Does anyone remember buying "pagan baby certificates"? What about the unscriptural teachings of Limbo and Purgatory? Wake up people! The Church as an institution is crumbling from within, and are bringing back old and discredited practices in an attempt to draw people in again--and their money. It's all a part of history. Read about why Martin Luther separated himself from the Roman Catholic Church. Indulgences were one of his greatest issues. I was raised Catholic, but never questioned any of their teachings until after I left the church in my 20's. People need to know the history of indulgences before they adopt this retro, and harmful practice.

wonder1234Mar. 24, 09 1:00 AM

There is no money in indulgences. The indulgences I have received have no money attached to them. No, we do not need indulgences to get to heaven. Who said we needed them to get to heaven? It is bound up in the faith and understanding of the Catholic Church, something you demonstrate no understanding of but discriminate against. Last year, in MN, two Lutheran pastors were relieved of thier churches due to molesting little boys....Oh wait, it couldn't have happened because they are not Catholic. Yep, sarcasm. The actions of a few do not speak for the people as a whole in reguards to any church. Read the article and see where money is talked about before you accuse.

softwareMar. 24, 09 1:55 AM

In the middle ages, if you had enough money, your teenager could become a Cardinal. It worked then, how about now?

solocoMar. 24, 09 2:09 AM

There is nothing in the Bible about indulgences. There is no mention in the Bible of purgatory. The Bible is very clear that there is nothing you can do to pay for your sins. Do you ever wonder when filling out a form there are separate check boxes for Catholic and Christian? It is simple. Catholicism has nothing to do with Christianity in its practice. Catholicism is a religion; it is a human attempt to reach a god while Christianity is God reaching to humankind. It is pretty simple, but the god of this world blinds people and makes them feel good with rituals so they will never really know the truth. I do not expect some will like my comment, but you now know the truth and the hound of heaven will be on your trail...looking for you. Turn around. Now.

brefokMar. 24, 09 2:40 AM

No one needs to confess their sins to a man in a box. You can go directly through prayer through our Mediator, our great High Priest, Redeemer, Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. No one can work their way to heaven. No one can ever pay for their own sins or earn God's favor in any way, shape or form. There is no purgatory. It is appointed for man once to die and then, judgement.

brefokMar. 24, 09 2:41 AM

Do you consider yourself to be a good person. How many lies have you told? How many times have you taken something that didn't belong to you? How many times have you taken God's name in vain? Jesus said if you look at a person with lust you are an adulterer at heart. God sees you as a lying, thieving, blashpemous adulterer at heart and you have to face God the second you die. Would you be innocent or guilty? Guilty. Heaven or Hell. Hell. But God, being rich in mercy, sent His Son, Christ Jesus, born of a virgin, to live a sinless life and take the punishment you deserve, dying on the cross and rising from the dead 3 days later and is now seated at the right hand of the Father. If you would cry out to God and repent, turn from your sin and turn to God, and put your trust in Jesus Christ alone, not a religious system or good works or indulgences or whatever else we tend to put our faith in. 100% Jesus, 0% you. God gives grace to the humble but resists the proud. Humble yourself and examine yourself and make sure you are in the truth. I am not holier than thou or self-righteous. My righetousness is only found in Christ's finished work on the cross. Please consider this my Catholic friends.

wiseguy1Mar. 24, 09 6:49 AM

The concept of indulgences is in direct opposition to the concept of grace and forgiveness. Christianity is full of such discrepancies and rationalizations.

bill9844Mar. 24, 09 7:09 AM

I love being a Catholic, I can't understand why anyone would attack another's faith. If it isn't for you, don't go there, go somewhere else, or nowhere, I don't care. Attacking it makes you a BIGOT!!

imasweetie27Mar. 24, 09 7:24 AM

No disrespect, but the pope did away with the idea of purgatory not that long ago, so that point is moot. On another note, if you don't like Catholicism then don't practice it. Plain and simple. Let people do what they want and respect their wishes!


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