This past week Pope Benedict XVI announced a plenary indulgence of the Year of Faith. The concept of an indulgence is one that is widely misunderstood in the Church today. Put most simply, an indulgence is something the Church grants to a penitent individual that removes the temporal punishment for their sins. Every sin has consequences for the sinner that we believe has to be accounted for in this life or for most of us, the next. Receiving an indulgence usually involve some sort of prayer, good work or a combination of the two.
It would seem that the pope is using this long held tradition in order to encourage the faithful to take part in the activities surrounding the Year of Faith. Elizabeth Scalia has written a detailed explanation of indulgences at her blog:
Yeah, I know, indulgences have gotten a bad rap, thanks to past-abuse in our history, and myths do abound, but an indulgence is a good thing, and something that helps Catholics pursue active devotions and grow in understanding and piety. I’m really happy to read that the Vatican has decreed a plenary indugence for the Year of Faith: (You can read the entire post here)
I hope that the faithful of our diocese will take advantage of all the opportunities to grow stronger in our faith this upcoming year.