Almost 500 years after Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the church door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, nothing seems to have changed. The Pope is still offering relief from time in Purgatory. Indulgences are still being offered to all who follow the papal appointed steps. See the articles below.
There are many comments that one could make about this (for example, the existence of Purgatory having no Scriptural foundation; the fact that the teaching of Purgatory denies the benefits of Jesus' atoning sacrifice for sins -- If they are paid for, why are your sufferings still necessary?; etc...)
It was about 500 years ago that a pesky monk in Saxony wanted to debate the following points:This unbridled preaching of pardons makes it no easy matter, even for learned men, to rescue the reverence due to the pope from slander, or even from the shrewd questionings of the laity.
To wit: -- "Why does not the pope empty purgatory, for the sake of holy love and of the dire need of the souls that are there, if he redeems an infinite number of souls for the sake of miserable money with which to build a Church? The former reasons would be most just; the latter is most trivial." (Theses 81 and 82 of Martin Luther's 95 Theses)
Even though the Pope is not making use of salesmen-preachers to gather in money for indulgence sales, the basic question about pardon for punishments still stands: If the Pope truly has authority to pardon people from punishments for their sins, why doesn't love and compassion for tortured souls compel him to grant full and immediate pardons?
One hell of a deal: Pope Francis offers reduced time in Purgatory for Catholics that follow him on Twitter
Court in charge of forgiveness of sins says those that follow upcoming event via social media will be granted indulgences
Around 1.5 million are expected to flock to Rio de Janeiro to celebrate World Youth Day with the Argentine pontiff later this month. But for those who can’t make it to Brazil, forgiveness may be available to contrite sinners who follow Francis’s progress via their TV screen or social networks.
The Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary, the Vatican court that rules on the forgiveness of sins, has said that indulgences may be given to those who follow the “rites and pious exercises” of the event on television, radio and through social media.
The Penitentiary said that Pope Francis' Twitter account, which has already gathered seven million followers, would be one such medium.
Vatican officials, noted however, that to obtain indulgences over the internet or otherwise, believers would first have to confess their sins, offer prayers and attend Mass.
“You can't obtain indulgences like getting a coffee from a vending machine,” Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, head of the pontifical council for social communication, told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.
Similar comments from the UK Guardian:
But attendance at events such as the Catholic World Youth Day, in Rio de Janeiro, a week-long event starting on 22 July, can also win an indulgence.
Mindful of the faithful who cannot afford to fly to Brazil, the Vatican's sacred apostolic penitentiary, a court which handles the forgiveness of sins, has also extended the privilege to those following the "rites and pious exercises" of the event on television, radio and through social media.
"That includes following Twitter," said a source at the penitentiary, referring to Pope Francis' Twitter account, which has gathered seven million followers. "But you must be following the events live. It is not as if you can get an indulgence by chatting on the internet."
In its decree, the penitentiary said that getting an indulgence would hinge on the beneficiary having previously confessed and being "truly penitent and contrite".
Hat Tip: Rev. Geoff Kieta