Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Rome brings back plenary indulgences

That sound you just heard was Martin Luther storming in his grave. The Roman Catholic Church, learning a bit from the father of the Reformation, forbade paying for indulgences after the Council of Trent, then, as this story on their revival notes, “decoupled” them from mainstream Catholic life as part of Vatican II.

As for the claim you can’t buy them?

Well… you can get them charitable contributions. And, the Catholic Church is a legal charity, is it not?

Say Joe the Catholic (whether a plumber in Ohio or not) worships, not just in a parish, but his bishopric’s cathedral seat. And, let’s say the bishop, perhaps to commemorate 20 years of holding the position, decides the cathedral needs a new — marble, let’s say — baptismal font.

Let’s say his membership includes a 74-year-old rogue, divorced and remarried outside the church, divorced again, and now “living in sin,” as the saying once was. He’s only a C&E Mass attender, and let’s say our bishop is actually conservative enough to bar him from the Eucharist to boot.

But… that marble baptismal font keeps calling in the back of his mind.

Well, who better to get plenary indulgence for his long life than our three-times loveable (at least) “rogue,” if his charitable contribution just happens to add up to the value of a marble baptismal font?

But, no, you can’t “pay” for them.

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