Register Radio: Myths about the Church & Plenary Indulgence

Dr. Christopher Kaczor and Dr. Michel Therrien

Today on Register Radio, we first spoke with Dr. Christopher Kaczor, professor of philosophy at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, about his brand new Ignatius Press book "The Seven Big Myths about the Catholic Church."

Asked why there are so many myths that are believed and perpetuated about the Church, Kaczor hypothesized that mass media has led to many of the profound misunderstandings that people have about the Church.

"Also, sometimes, Catholics aren't as well equipped as they could be to respond to these things," added Kaczor.

Kaczor said that the myth that is probably the most widespread at the moment, and also the most damaging is the myth that priestly celibacy caused the sexual abuse of minors.

"It's not a myth that there was a sexual abuse problem, but it is a myth that priests have a particular weakness to this, or that they are somehow more susceptible to it," said Kaczor. "The rate of sexual abuse of minors by priests is less than it is among teachers, yet we don't hear anything about that."

Kaczor explained that he chose the seven myths that he did because they were the most common objections he heard repeated by his students and friends throughout the years.

"I gathered the most common objections people had from a secular perspective," said Kaczor. "It doesn't explore myths that Protestants believe about Catholics, such as the myth that Catholics worship Mary. It's aimed at inactive Catholics or non-Catholics."

"If you wrote a book like this around the Protestant Reformation, or in the 13th century, you would write a different book," said Kaczor. "In the 21st century we are facing new issues and debates and misunderstandings."

Plenary Indulgence for the Year of Faith

In our second half, Dr. Michel Therrien, academic dean at the Augustine Institute, spoke about the Year of Faith, the anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the plenary indulgence being offered for the Church's Year of Faith.

"The Catechism has been a real gift for the Church because it has presented the role of faith clearly in the post-conciliar Church," said Therrien. "The Council introduced so many things to think about and reflect upon, that what was lacking was where people could go for a clear articulation of the Catholic faith. A lot of the confusion that people experienced after the Council was where they could get a clear picture of the Church's teaching."

"While the teachings and the doctrine are the same as the Roman Catechism developed after the Council of Trent, there are mny new issues and concerns that have been raised. The new Cathecism is very accessible to people. The section on creation, for example, is very expansive because of the advances of science and the origins of the universe. It provides sources and references to Scripture, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church that provide a comprehensive story of our faith."

Talking about indulgences, Therrien first explained what an indulgence is.

"As Christians we receive a superabundant outpouring of grace," explained Therrien. "These are graces that the Church communicates to us from the treasury of graces stored up through Christ's death and Resurrection. The Church has been trusted with the ministry of dispensing these graces."

"People can be confused about how the dispensation works," added Therrien. "An indulgence is an opportunity to embark on certain spiritual practices that transform us. The Church wants us to overcome all of the disorders that sin brings into our lives. Therefore, the Church offers certain spiritual practices that are transformative for our soul and draw us closer to the Lord."

Therrien went on to explain the specific requirements for the plenary indulgence being offered during the Year of Faith.

"As with any indulgence, first and foremost, we must be truly repentant for our sins. We must examine ourselves and receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Holy Communion," said Therrien. "One of the primary conditions is to pray for the intentions of the Holy Father."

"In addition, there are a number of opportunities the Church says we can participate in. We can listen to three lectures or homilies on the Second Vatican Council or on the articles of faith from the Catechism," added Therrien. "Another opportunity is to make a pilgrimage to a sacred place designated by the bishop as a holy site, and take time for reflection, say an Our Father, make a profession of faith, or ask for a saint's intercession. Another opportunity is to participate in Mass on a Holy Day and make a profession of faith. Finally, we can actually visit the place where we were baptized and renew our baptismal vows."

As always, to hear the full interviews listen to today's show at 2 p.m. EASTERN Friday on any EWTN Radio affiliate or Sirius/XM Satellite Radio. The program re-airs at 7 p.m. EASTERN on Saturday and 11 a.m. EASTERN on Sunday, and is also available on the Register Radio web page, and via podcast.