Definition and Purpose of Indulgences

  • Indulgence is a way to reduce punishment for forgiven sins.
  • It is described as a remission before God of temporal punishment due to forgiven sins.
  • The Catholic Church teaches that indulgences draw on the merits of Jesus' sacrifice and the virtues of saints.
  • Indulgences are granted for specific good works and prayers.
  • They are granted in proportion to the devotion with which those good works are performed or prayers recited.
  • Indulgences were introduced to allow for the remission of severe penances in the early church.
  • They were granted at the intercession of Christians awaiting martyrdom or imprisoned for their faith.
  • Indulgences were used to support charities, including hospitals, in the late Middle Ages.
  • The Catholic Church recognized the abuse of indulgences, but struggled to effectively restrain it.
  • Indulgences continue to play a role in modern Catholic religious life.

History of Indulgences

  • Indulgences were a target of attacks by Martin Luther and other Protestant theologians during the Protestant Reformation.
  • The Catholic Counter-Reformation curbed the abuses of indulgences.
  • Indulgences were dogmatically confirmed as part of the Catholic faith by the Council of Trent.
  • In 1567, Pope Pius V forbade tying indulgences to any financial act.
  • Reforms in the 20th century abolished the quantification of indulgences and reduced the number granted for visiting specific locations.

Actions Required for Indulgences

  • The recipient of an indulgence must perform a specific action to receive it.
  • This can include saying a specified prayer, making a pilgrimage, or performing good works.
  • The action must be performed with devotion and sincerity.
  • The Catholic Church no longer ties indulgences to financial acts.
  • The reforms in the 20th century eliminated the quantification of indulgences.

Liabilities of Sin and Punishment

  • When a person sins, they acquire the liability of guilt and the liability of punishment.
  • Indulgences address the temporal punishment due to forgiven sins.
  • The Catholic Church teaches that indulgences can help reduce the punishment one has to undergo.
  • Indulgences are granted to the faithful Christian who is duly disposed and fulfills certain prescribed conditions.
  • The purpose of indulgences is to obtain the remission of temporal punishment.

Indulgence Data Sources

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