That Sound You Heard Was Martin Luther Rolling Over In His Grave

According to a New York Times article, the Catholic church is bringing back indulgences! For my younger readers, the article defines indulgences fairly well: “In exchange for certain prayers, devotions or pilgrimages in special years, a Catholic can receive an indulgence, which reduces or erases that punishment instantly, with no formal ceremony or sacrament.”

At first, I thought, “Well, in a tough economy, you got bills to pay. You gotta keep looking for new revenue streams.” However, that was quickly rebuffed:

“Confessions have been down for years and the church is very worried about it,” said the Rev. Tom Reese, a Jesuit and former editor of the Catholic magazine America. In a secularized culture of pop psychology and self-help, he said, “the church wants the idea of personal sin back in the equation. Indulgences are a way of reminding people of the importance of penance.”

“The good news is we’re not selling them anymore,” he added.

Oh, well, I guess that IS good news. And, in even more good news, we’re bringing a steady diet of focusing on guilt-inducing personal sin back into the equation.

I mean, confessions are down, right?

So, here’s the deal to get indulgences (once again, according to the article): “…fulfilling the basic requirements: going to confession, receiving holy communion, saying a prayer for the pope and achieving ‘complete detachment from any inclination to sin.’”

If I were a practicing Catholic (or even Catholic, for that matter), I’m thinking that last requirement is a tough one.


Granted, as a protestant my entire life, only having Catholic friends as my exposure to Catholicism, I’m not sure I can understand this fully…

…and I certainly don’t want to be unnecessarily offensive…

…but I REALLY don’t get this reintroduction of what even Vatican II got rid of at all.

Any help the patrons can give me here would be greatly appreciated.