Well, it looks like they’re at it again. Our friends in the Holy Roman Catholic Church have resumed the practice of granting plenary indulgences. What’s an indulgence, you ask? The Catholic Encyclopedia describes a plenary indulgence as
the remission of the entire temporal punishment due to sin so that no further expiation is required in Purgatory.
Purgatory, eh? There’s a fun concept! So you’ve done all you can during your life to serve your God, and say, for the sake of argument, that you die after a long debilitating illness. Now you can look forward to eternity in heaven! Not so fast, chum! You weren’t quite pious enough, so you get to stew for a bit first.
“Why are we bringing it back?” asked Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio of Brooklyn, who has embraced the move. “Because there is sin in the world.”
The happy racket of selling them was banned back in 1567, after that embarrassing incident in Germany. Still, with the economy in the condition it’s in, we can only wonder if they’re considering reinstating the practice. The monk Tetzel, who was trying to raise money to build St. Peter’s Basilica, came up with a catchy rhyme to go along with it:
As soon as the gold in the casket rings
The rescued soul to heaven springs
You know, it’s a little dated, but with some reworking, an upbeat tune to go with it, and maybe a celebrity endorsement, they just might be able to launch a killer marketing campaign.