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Want to buy your way into heaven?

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posted on May, 25 2004 @ 04:36 PM
This is some quite dated information, but I was just reminded of it and thought that I would share a bit of interesting religious history for those of you that were never exposed to this information.

A Dominican Monk by the name of Johann Tetzel entered the village as an ambassador of Pope Leo X, the head of the Roman Catholic Church. This was Tetzel's latest stop on a tour of selling "indulgences" for the Pope. An indulgence is a certificate which by papal authority promises the removal of punishment and suffering for sin. Leo authorized the selling of them to help raise money to pay for the completion of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

Since the middle ages the Roman Catholic Church has taught that while God alone can forgive the guilt of sin, He has left it to the church to forgive the temporal punishments which sin deserves. God removes the guilt and eternal punishment of the Christian's sins, but it is the responsibility of the church--and more specifically, the Pope--to remove the "temporal punishments" which those sins deserve. This is accomplished through an elaborate system of penance, purgatory and indulgence.

Fortunately, the Roman Catholic Church has a "treasury of merit" which holds the possibility of mitigating some or all of a believer's purgatorial sufferings. This treasury consists of the "over-and-above" good works that were done by Christ and unusually faithful men and women throughout history. The saints who performed works of "supererogation" (ie. more than they themselves needed to get out of purgatory and into heaven) have deposited their extra merit into this treasury. The Pope can disburse this accumulated merit as he determines to whom he determines. An indulgence, granted by the Pope, draws on this extra merit in order to reduce the number of years which the recipient must spend in purgatory before he is released to heaven.

The treasury of merit works something like a huge bank account held in trust, with the Pope being the sole trustee. If you owe a $10,000 debt and fulfill the application process, the Pope has the authority to draw on this account and grant to you enough money to pay your debt. Thus, based on the merits of others your sins are indulged and you can escape at least some of the punishments of purgatory.

This background makes more understandable the commotion and excitement which was caused by Tetzel when he entered into the town of Juterbock--especially since the indulgences which he came to sell were not mere partial ones but the plenary kind. Those who purchased his wares were guaranteed to skip purgatory altogether. Furthermore, these indulgences could be applied not only to the purchaser, but also for any dear, departed loved one who up to that point had been suffering the punishments of purgatory.

Tetzel was quite a showman and salesman. And he did all that he could to persuade his hearers to purchase indulgences. Part of his speech played upon the affections of his hearers toward their departed loved ones.

Indulgences have benefit not only for the living but for the dead. Priest, noble, merchant, wife, youth, young girl, do you not hear your parents and your other friends who are dead, and who cry from the bottom of the fiery inferno, "We are suffering horrible torments! An insignificant offering would deliver us; you can give it, and you will not."?[3]
He even made up a little rhyme which went something like this: "As soon as the coin into the coffer rings, another soul into Heaven springs."

Tetzel was quite effective in convincing multitudes of people to give large sums of money to purchase these indulgences.


Doesn't sound very holy to me!

posted on May, 25 2004 @ 04:43 PM
Jonna, not berating your topic here, per se', but this is a history lesson and was restricted to the time period for which 'indulgences' took place. It is or was a theological practice, per se' of the RCC and not a conspiracy.
Catholic Encyclopedia: Indulgences


posted on May, 25 2004 @ 04:46 PM
Feel free to move it to BTS then. I just recalled in from the back of my head that thought that if would be found interesting. No harm, no foul.

posted on May, 25 2004 @ 04:50 PM

Here is an excellent link regarding indulgences and actual Church teaching.
Have there been abuses in the past? Of course. But that's because we're all sinners and at times, we fail. That however, does not take away from the truth of indulgences. It's also helpful to review the history of indulgences in the time when specific amounts of time were alloted to each. It really doeesn't apply in modern practice.

posted on May, 29 2004 @ 01:44 PM
Wow I thought everyone knew about this, this is one of the big reasons people wanted to split to America, because of crooked stuff like that.

posted on May, 29 2004 @ 02:20 PM
Yes. The Catholic Church has made really nasty mistakes. The whole indulgence episode was what sparked the reformation in the first place.
We've had our share of corruption in the past, however these mistakes were human one's not catholic one's.

Consider how much power some of the popes actually wielded. It enough to corrupt almost anyone!

The fact that Judas Iscariot(one of the 12) actaully betrayed Jesus(who he had been following for about 3 years, and have seen all the miracles) must tell you that you'll always find a "Judas" in any church, in any age.

Me as a Catholic feels very ashamed to think some of the clergy acted that way through the history of the church, for this I ask your pardon on behalf of the catholic's who have stayed faithful.


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