Vatican Announces Forgiveness Sale

Medieval indulgence

Say, do you have an imaginary friend? Do you feel guilty because a guy in a funny hat told you that you broke some rules laid down by your imaginary friend, like not hating gays enough, or not showing enough deference to men in funny hats? If so, you’re in luck, because the Vatican has announced that

Benedict XVI will grant faithful Plenary Indulgence for the occasion of the Year of Faith. The indulgence will be valid from the opening of the Year on 11 October 2012 until its end on 24 November 2013.

“The day of the fiftieth anniversary of the solemn opening of Vatican Council II”, the text reads, “the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI has decreed the beginning of a Year especially dedicated to the profession of the true faith and its correct interpretation, through the reading of – or better still the pious meditation upon – the Acts of the Council and the articles of the Catechism of the Catholic Church”.

“Since the primary objective is to develop sanctity of life to the highest degree possible on this earth, and thus to attain the most sublime level of pureness of soul, immense benefit may be derived from the great gift of Indulgences which, by virtue of the power conferred upon her by Christ, the Church offers to everyone who, following the due norms, undertakes the special prescripts to obtain them”.

First of all, I like how the release doesn’t mention the Bible in its list of resources on how to properly interpret “true faith”. This is in accordance with longstanding Catholic tradition, that if you let the hoi polloi read the Word of God, they might come away with a false understanding of what God wants. So best if the parishioners don’t worry their pretty little heads about it.

So what, pray tell (see what I did there?), must one do to erase real and imaginary transgressions from one’s soul, or that of one’s deceased relatives? Glad you asked:

  1. Attend three sermons or three catechism lessons.
  2. Visit a basilica, a Christian catacomb, a cathedral, or other specially-designated holy site.
  3. Take communion or celebrate Liturgy, on any specially-designated day.
  4. Visit the place where you were baptized and renew your baptismal promises. [I’m confused by this one. I thought Catholics baptized newborns, who aren’t capable of making any promises. Maybe this only applies to those who were baptized as adults?]

I can only imagine that they give out cards, like coffee shops and burrito restaurants, except with lots more Latin and curlicues, and once it’s been punched or stamped ten times, you get your indulgence.

Oh, and at the end, there’s a sort of nod to the Vatican equivalent of the Americans With Disabilities act:

The document concludes by recalling how faithful who, due to illness or other legitimate cause, are unable to leave their place of adobe

So what’s the deal with adobe? Does this apply only to Catholics in New Mexico and Arizona?

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2 Responses to Vatican Announces Forgiveness Sale

  1. Eamon Knight says:

    That list of How To Get Your Very Own Indulgence reads like something out of the AD&D manual (which goes along with my theory that we should treat religions as live action RPGs that we’re not playing). But I’m unclear on what the point of the Indulgence is. Historically, I thought the idea was you gave some money to the Church, and that excused you from punishment for a night of debauchery — sort of like paying off the cops to look the other way while you held a drunken party during Prohibition. You jump through all those hoops, and it doesn’t necessarily make you a better person (which I could sort of respect) — just magically removes the guilt of bad stuff you previously did?

    I don’t understand Catholicism (but I was a Protestant, and it was carefully explained to us that Catholicism was bullshit, and I guess that were right about that much).

    I thought Catholics baptized newborns, who aren’t capable of making any promises.

    I think the theory is that your parents/god-parents made promises on your behalf, which you are expected to take up as your own at Confirmation (that’s why it’s called “confirmation”).

    Like

    • arensb says:

      I think the theory is that your parents/god-parents made promises on your behalf, which you are expected to take up as your own at Confirmation (that’s why it’s called “confirmation”).

      Or at least the promises as you remember and understand them, which may be different from what your (god)parents promised. This is called “confirmation bias”.

      Like

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