December 6, 2007

But I Thought the Reformation Was Over!

Fairly frequently I encounter Roman Catholics who tell me their church no longer believes in indulgences, purgatory, etc. Since I'm usually somewhere else on Sunday, my knowledge has to come from unreliable sources such as the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I find reading it back to people produces glassy-eyed stares. At that point, discourse is fruitless.

So I'm glad for the reminder (but not for the fact) that while some things have changed, the basic doctrinal structure of the Roman church has not.

From the Telegraph:

Pope Benedict XVI is offering relief from purgatory to Roman Catholics who travel to Lourdes over the next year, the Vatican said yesterday.

Pope Benedict XVI prays to a statue of Madonna of Lourdes in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican

Pilgrims to the shrine in south-west France will receive "plenary indulgences" from the Pontiff, which the Church says reduce the time spent being "washed" of sin after death. The indulgences will be available from this weekend until Dec 8, 2008.

The Church teaches that people who do not go directly to heaven must spend time in purgatory, where they can be purified of residual sin.

It is the latest initiative to get more pilgrims to the shrine, famous for the reported healing properties of its water. In August the Vatican opened an airline service offering pilgrims direct flights from Rome to Lourdes.

For those who cannot make the journey to France, the Pope will also grant indulgences to Catholics who pray at places of worship dedicated to the Madonna of Lourdes from Feb 2 to Feb 11. Indulgences may also be granted under special circumstances to people too sick to visit the shrine, the Vatican said.

The offer comes as the shrine prepares to commemorate the 150th anniversary of when the Madonna was said to have appeared to a peasant girl in 1858.

The Pope is expected to visit next year, possibly in September or October.

HT: Mark Pfundstein

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