Saturday, December 17, 2011

Why Was Luther Wrong (Part 3)

This is a continuing project reflecting upon Exurge Domini - where Pope Leo X declared the Errors of Martin Luther.  This article deals with the Eucharist and indulgences.
15. Great is the error of those who approach the sacrament of the Eucharist relying on this, that they have confessed, that they are not conscious of any mortal sin, that they have sent their prayers on ahead and made preparations; all these eat and drink judgment to themselves. But if they believe and trust that they will attain grace, then this faith alone makes them pure and worthy.

The "this" here is contrition (from #14).  If one did not have true contrition for their sins when they confessed them, then the confession would be invalid.  If the confession is invalid, then they would still have that/those sin/s upon their souls.  If one approaches the Eucharist with unforgiven sins upon them, then they do so in the unworthy manner St. Paul refers to in 1 Cor. 11:27.  To approach the Eucharist in such a manner - even if you "believe" in this "faith alone" does the exact opposite of making one "pure and worthy," for it brings upon them "the judgment."
16. It seems to have been decided that the Church in common Council established that the laity should communicate under both species; the Bohemians who communicate under both species are not heretics, but schismatics.

Participation in the Eucharist in one or both species is not a matter of heresy or schism; Eastern Catholics and Orthodox have continued the practice throughout history.
17. The treasures of the Church, from which the pope grants indulgences, are not the merits of Christ and of the saints.

18. Indulgences are pious frauds of the faithful, and remissions of good works; and they are among the number of those things which are allowed, and not of the number of those which are advantageous.

19. Indulgences are of no avail to those who truly gain them, for the remission of the penalty due to actual sin in the sight of divine justice.

20. They are seduced who believe that indulgences are salutary and useful for the fruit of the spirit.

21. Indulgences are necessary only for public crimes, and are properly conceded only to the harsh and impatient.
22. For six kinds of men indulgences are neither necessary nor useful; namely, for the dead and those about to die, the infirm, those legitimately hindered, and those who have not committed crimes, and those who have committed crimes, but not public ones, and those who devote themselves to better things.

Indulgences are granted by the authority of the Church.  This authority is given in Matthew 16:18-19 to St. Peter alone and in Matthew 18:18 to the Apostles, including St. Peter, as a group.  They were told, as the Father had sent the Son, He was sending them.  Thus, they too would "send" others with this same authority.  Therefore the pope (successor of St. Peter) and the bishops gathered in ecumenical council (successors of the Apostles) have this authority, to this day!  If an indulgence has so been bound or loosed - then amen!  It is so!  Luther has not the authority to deny this!

The next section I will deal with begins talking of excommunication.


  1. There are still many, many misunderstandings, even amongst Catholics, on just what indulgences are is a definition.

    The definition of "indulgence" from the Apostolic Constitution Indulgitiarum Doctrina -- Whereby the revision of Sacred Indulgences is Promulgated, Pope Paul VI, Jan 1, 1967:

    "An indulgence is the remission before God of the temporal punishment due sins already forgiven as far as their guilt is concerned, which the follower of Christ with the proper dispositions and under certain determined conditions acquires through the intervention of the Church which, as minister of the Redemption, authoritatively dispenses and applies the treasury of the satisfaction won by Christ and the saints."

    If anyone is interested in reading the document on indulgence, he or she can do so here:

    OR HERE:

  2. I had to share this, too.

    In his general audience of Wednesday, 29 September, 1999, Pope John Paul II addressed the topic of indulgences. In his conclusion he said:

    [from sec. 2] " is not difficult to understand how reconciliation with God, although based on a free and abundant offer of mercy, at the same time implies an arduous process which involves the individual's personal effort and the Church's sacramental work. For the forgiveness of sins committed after Baptism, this process is centred on the sacrament of Penance, but it continues after the sacramental celebration. The person must be gradually "healed" of the negative effects which sin has caused in him (what the theological tradition calls the "punishments" and "remains" of sin)."

    [From Sec. 5 conclusion:] " would be a mistake to think that we can receive this gift by simply performing certain outward acts. On the contrary, they are required as the expression and support of our progress in conversion. They particularly show our faith in God's mercy and in the marvellous reality of communion, which Christ has achieved by indissolubly uniting the Church to himself as his Body and Bride."


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