From selected publications

Indulgences Still Misunderstood

THE SALT LAKE CITY TRIBUNE, March 6—The Utah newspaper reported that Pope John Paul II has approved the granting of special indulgences for the Great Jubilee of 2000, as is customary for all holy years.

But reporter Peggy Fletcher Stack added that indulgences had been abandoned by Vatican II, and were now being brought back by the present Pope. “Why, then, would that arcane practice re-emerge at the end of the 20th century?” she asks, acknowledging that “there was no suggestion about the selling of indulgences” in the Pope's appendix on the subject in his decree The Mystery of Incarnation.

She did quote Church sources setting the record straight. “The worst thing about indulgences is the name,” because “it conjures up notions of distortions,” said Msgr. Frances Mannion, a local theologian who defended the teaching on indulgences. If they were not worthy, he pointed out, “[indulgences] would not have survived … and been renewed in our time.”

Msgr. Mannion compared indulgences to the efforts that must be made after a serious blow to a friendship. “Merely saying, ‘I'm sorry,’ … doesn't do the job completely,” Mannion said. “Sometimes the damage is long-lasting … [and] needs ongoing work and time to heal.”