Indulgences — Robert Schihl


By definition, an indulgence is the remission in whole or in part of the temporal punishment due to personal sin, provided that the sin has already been forgiven. The power invested in the Church and her bishops and priests to grant indulgences is found in several scriptures.

To Peter alone Jesus granted the first power to bind and loose anything.

Mt 16:19

I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

To all the disciples Jesus later granted the same power to bind and loose.

Mt 18:18

Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

To all the disciples Jesus gave the power to forgive sins.

Jn 20:21-23

(Jesus) said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

As can be seen from the nature of personal sin, as man turns from God and towards created things, man incurs both guilt and punishment. Through the blood of Jesus, all guilt of sin-turning from God–is remitted through confession of sin. Punishment, limited temporal punishment due to sin-preferring created things to God–still remains.

Num 14:20-23

The Lord answered (Moses): “I pardon them as you have asked. Yet, by my life and the Lord’s glory that fills the whole earth, of all the men who have seen my glory and the signs I worked in Egypt and in the desert, and who nevertheless have put me to the test ten times already and have failed to heed my voice, not one shall see the land which I promised on oath to their fathers. None of these who have spurned me shall see it.”

2 Sam 12:13-14

Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan answered David: “The Lord on his part has forgiven your sin: you shall not die. But since you have utterly spurned the Lord by this deed, the child born to you must surely die.”

1 Cor 11:29-32

For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are ill and infirm, and a considerable number are dying. If we discerned ourselves, we would not be under judgment; but since we are judged by (the) Lord, we are being disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

The three classic actions leading to indulgences are prayer, good deeds and almsgiving.

Prov 16:6

By kindness and piety guilt is expiated, and by the fear of the Lord man avoids evil.

Dan 4:24

Therefore, O king, take my advice; atone for your sins by good deeds, and for your misdeeds by kindness to the poor; then your prosperity will be long.

Luke 19:8-9

But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.”

Act 10:4

Your prayers and almsgiving have ascended as a memorial offering before God.

The teaching Magisterium of the church in ecumenical council also affirms indulgences.

Council of Trent (1545-1563), Decree on Indulgences, Sess. 25

Christ gave the power of granting indulgences to the Church, and since the Church has, even in ancient times, made use of this divinely given power (Mt. 16:19; 18:18), the holy council teaches and commands that the usage of indulgences–a usage most beneficial to Christians and approved by the authority of the holy councils–should be kept up in the Church; and it anathematizes those who say that indulgences are useless, or that the Church does not have the power of granting them.

Vatican Council II (1962-1965), Constitution of the Revision of Indulgences, No. 1

The doctrine of indulgences and their practice have been in force for many centuries in the Catholic Church. They would appear to be solidly founded on Divine Revelation, handed down “from the apostles.”

From the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church

Catechism of the Catholic Church, Section 1471

An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, Section 1473

The forgiveness of sin and restoration of communion with God entail the remission of the eternal punishment of sin, but temporal punishment of sin remains. While patiently bearing sufferings and trials of all kinds and, when the day comes, serenely facing death, the Christian must strive to accept this temporal punishment of sin as a grace. He should strive by works of mercy and charity, as well as by prayer and the various practices of penance, to put off completely the “old man” and to put on the “new man.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church, Sections 1478-1479

An indulgence is obtained through the Church who, by virtue of the power of binding and loosing granted her by Christ Jesus, intervenes in favor of individual Christians and opens for them the treasury of the merits of Christ and the saints to obtain from the Father of mercies the remission of the temporal punishments due for their sins. Thus the Church does not want simply to come to the aid of these Christians, but also to spur them to works of devotion, penance, and charity. Since the faithful departed now being purified are also members of the same communion of saints, one way we can help them is to obtain indulgences for them, so that the temporal punishments due for their sins may be remitted.


By Paul Flanagan and Robert Schihl.

Catholic Biblical Apologetics, © Copyright 1985-2004, Paul Flanagan and Robert Schihl

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture texts are taken from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament and Revised Psalms © 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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Last Updated: October 18, 2011


Who’s Really Responsible for Fr. James Martin’s Revolution?

Let’s be frank: how could flagrant enemies of Christ, dissenters of Catholic doctrinal teaching, be running amok in the barque of the Church today – being promoted to positions of authority or spewing their heretical bile with impunity – if the man at the helm does nothing, ZERO, to either stall or correct them? Brian Williams (Liturgy Guy) reveals the underlying, barely dissimulated, nod of approval from the current Pope of the increasing diabolical attacks on the Catholic Church from within her very heart.

With each passing week the pace quickens. The revolutionaries continue to grow more emboldened. There is no time to lose. For those who wish to remake the Church in the image of fallen Man, instead of defending the immutable Truth of Our Risen Lord, the time is now.

With every new tweet to his 125,000 followers on Twitter, or every pro-LGBT article shared to…

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Addressing the Heresy of Sola Fide

Since Protestants confidently proclaim that faith alone is the solution to being saved, the question remains; why does scripture oppose this heretical and unbiblical doctrine? It’s quite evident within the scriptures that we are to do good works in response to having faith in Christ. This is called cooperating with God’s Grace. The scriptures state […]

Since Protestants confidently proclaim that faith alone is the solution to being saved, the question remains; why does scripture oppose this heretical and unbiblical doctrine?

It’s quite evident within the scriptures that we are to do good works in response to having faith in Christ. This is called cooperating with God’s Grace. The scriptures state that we are to imitate Christ in all things (Eph 5:1-2) and that we are to keep His Commandments (Rev 22:14) in order to be saved. 1 Peter 2:12 says that we are to be an example to the gentiles by our good deeds in order that they may glorify the True God. Matthew 5:16 reaffirms this same request, since our good works “shine before men.”

This is why Matthew 16:27 makes it absolutely clear that we will be judged by all the good works we have done to glorify God, for it states: “For the Son of Man is to come with His Angels in the Glory of His Father, and then He will repay every man for what he has done.”

Bear in mind that later in Matthew 25:31-46; Jesus speaks of separating the sheep from the goats in accordance to how they served God, the sheeps being the saved and the goats being the damned. The Protestant position of faith has no room within this scripture, for Jesus makes it clear that these good works, in absolute union with faith, are necessary for salvation as mentioned above.

Remember that even the Devils have faith in God, thus if we are to have faith alone and not do what God requests in this regards (Obeying the commandments, feeding the hungry etc.) we would only be cast away into Hell as “sinful and slothful servents.” (Matt 25:23-30) Did I forget to mention that the book of 2nd Corinthians 5:10 makes it absolutely clear that “all will be made manifest.. so that each one may receive what is due to him for the THINGS DONE while in the body, whether good or bad”?
Sounds like good works are necessary here for salvation. To reject this is to simply to be in self denial and pride. Had this not been true, Lazarus would have not been damned. (Matt 24:42-44)

In conclusion, faith without works is dead. “What does it profit, my brethren, if a man say he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him?” (Luther would say yes… continuing… ) “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to him “Go in peace, be warned and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” (James 2:14-17) Lets not forget James 2:26: “For as the Body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.”

Fun fact: Martin Luther, the founder of the heresy of Protestantism, desired to remove the book of James from the Bible because of this very key doctrine in which he invented. It’s ironic considering that not only had he removed 7 books from the Old Testament, but also accused the Catholic Church for being unbiblical and twisting scripture in which he has edited in order for it to fit his doctrines.

via Addressing the Heresy of Sola Fide — Holy Synergy

The Nativity of St. John the Baptist

Catholic Restoration

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The Nativity of St. John, the Baptist

In the holy Gospel, the nativity of St. John the Baptist, who was the forerunner of Christ, is described by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, not only for our instruction, but also that we may rejoice in the Lord our God. In the mountains of Judaea, at Hebron, eight miles from Jerusalem, lived Zachary and Elizabeth. They were just people, and lived in accordance with the commandments of God, but had no children, although they had prayed for them many years. The great age which they had attained, naturally gave them no longer any hope of issue. But still they continued their prayer. One day, when Zachary, who was a priest, offered incense in the Temple at Jerusalem, he saw at the right side of the altar, an angel, whose appearance filled the pious old man with fear and trembling. The…

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The case for Purgatory

A Heapin' Plate of Conservative Politics & Religion

By Tom Quiner


Catholics and Protestants differ on Purgatory.

Purgatory is the final process of purification that some of the saved must go through before entering Heaven. It is a period, or state, of suffering we go through to atone for our earthly sins.

‘Purgatory’ is an Anglicized term based on the word purge. There is Biblical basis for the state of Purgatory.

For example, the Jews prayed for the dead whom they believe, like Catholics, existed in a state where they could be helped, or purged, as you can see in this verse from II Macabbees 12:46:

“Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from sin.”

Actually, Protestants practice their own form of “purgatory” since they purged the books of Macabbees and other deuterocanonical books from the traditional Bible.

Nonetheless, scripture supports Purgatory in other ways, as related in Isaiah 6:5-7:

“Then I said, “Woe is…

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Where in the heck did Catholics come up with purgatory?

A Heapin' Plate of Conservative Politics & Religion

By Tom Quiner


Who ever knew the word purgatory was so highly charged?

I ran a quote by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on the subject two years ago. It generated some heat.

One guy was really over the top:

“Purgatory is already an invention … it has already been invented by satan, and the roman catholic so called church propagate that lie, to this day… since it was started as a cash cow for the vatican..along with indulgences.”

The other came from a writer I highly respect with a more balanced query:

“Fascinating. Biblically, we stand before God completely justified by the once-for-all atonement of Christ. The process of being made holy happens on earth and is known as sanctification-being made like Christ. Could you direct me to the scriptural support for purgatory, if you have a chance? Many thanks.”

As a convert to Catholicism, I once embraced a Protestant…

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Anti-Catholicism: the last acceptable prejudice?

Great article dealing with the incessant Protestant argument regarding so-called “Catholic statue worship”.

All Along the Watchtower

Bosco has been joined here by a fellow infallibilist – that is one who believes that his own, personal interpretation of Scripture is infallible. They both tell us that bowing is an act of worship, and when told that it is an act of veneration, insist it is an act of worship. This is not, one suspects, the best way to argue their point; insisting one is right without an argument other than ‘bowing is worship’ rather cuts off the possibility of dialogue.

But let us turn to Scripture for guidance. Let me take a few examples.

Luke 24:4-5New King James Version (NKJV)

And it happened, as they were greatly[a] perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the…

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