Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ``Repent'' (Mt 4:17), he willed
the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.
word cannot be understood as referring to the sacrament of penance,
that is, confession and satisfaction, as administered by the clergy.
- Yet it
does not mean solely inner repentance; such inner repentance is
worthless unless it produces various outward mortification of the flesh.
penalty of sin remains as long as the hatred of self (that is, true
inner repentance), namely till our entrance into the kingdom of heaven.
pope neither desires nor is able to remit any penalties except those
imposed by his own authority or that of the canons.
pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring and showing that it
has been remitted by God; or, to be sure, by remitting guilt in cases
reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in these
cases were disregarded, the guilt would certainly remain unforgiven.
remits guilt to no one unless at the same time he humbles him in all
things and makes him submissive to the vicar, the priest.
penitential canons are imposed only on the living, and, according to
the canons themselves, nothing should be imposed on the dying.
the Holy Spirit through the pope is kind to us insofar as the pope
in his decrees always makes exception of the article of death and of necessity.
priests act ignorantly and wickedly who, in the case of the dying,
reserve canonical penalties for purgatory.
tares of changing the canonical penalty to the penalty of purgatory
were evidently sown while the bishops slept (Mt 13:25).
former times canonical penalties were imposed, not after, but before
absolution, as tests of true contrition.
dying are freed by death from all penalties, are already dead as far
as the canon laws are concerned, and have a right to be released from them.
piety or love on the part of the dying person necessarily brings
with it great fear; and the smaller the love, the greater the fear.
fear or horror is sufficient in itself, to say nothing of other
things, to constitute the penalty of purgatory, since it is very near
to the horror of despair.
purgatory, and heaven seem to differ the same as despair, fear, and
assurance of salvation.
seems as though for the souls in purgatory fear should necessarily
decrease and love increase.
it does not seem proved, either by reason or by Scripture, that
souls in purgatory are outside the state of merit, that is, unable to
grow in love.
does it seem proved that souls in purgatory, at least not all of
them, are certain and assured of their own salvation, even if we
ourselves may be entirely certain of it.
the pope, when he uses the words ``plenary remission of all
penalties,'' does not actually mean ``all penalties,'' but only those
imposed by himself.
those indulgence preachers are in error who say that a man is
absolved from every penalty and saved by papal indulgences.
- As a
matter of fact, the pope remits to souls in purgatory no penalty
which, according to canon law, they should have paid in this life.
remission of all penalties whatsoever could be granted to anyone at
all, certainly it would be granted only to the most perfect, that is,
to very few.
this reason most people are necessarily deceived by that
indiscriminate and high-sounding promise of release from penalty.
power which the pope has in general over purgatory corresponds to the
power which any bishop or curate has in a particular way in his own
diocese and parish.
pope does very well when he grants remission to souls in purgatory,
not by the power of the keys, which he does not have, but by way of
intercession for them.
preach only human doctrines who say that as soon as the money clinks
into the money chest, the soul flies out of purgatory.
- It is
certain that when money clinks in the money chest, greed and avarice
can be increased; but when the church intercedes, the result is in
the hands of God alone.
knows whether all souls in purgatory wish to be redeemed, since we
have exceptions in St. Severinus and St. Paschal, as related in a legend.
- No one
is sure of the integrity of his own contrition, much less of having
received plenary remission.
man who actually buys indulgences is as rare as he who is really
penitent; indeed, he is exceedingly rare.
who believe that they can be certain of their salvation because they
have indulgence letters will be eternally damned, together with their teachers.
must especially be on guard against those who say that the pope's
pardons are that inestimable gift of God by which man is reconciled
the graces of indulgences are concerned only with the penalties of
sacramental satisfaction established by man.
who teach that contrition is not necessary on the part of those who
intend to buy souls out of purgatory or to buy confessional
privileges preach unchristian doctrine.
truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty
and guilt, even without indulgence letters.
true Christian, whether living or dead, participates in all the
blessings of Christ and the church; and this is granted him by God,
even without indulgence letters.
papal remission and blessing are by no means to be disregarded, for
they are, as I have said (Thesis 6), the proclamation of the divine remission.
- It is
very difficult, even for the most learned theologians, at one and the
same time to commend to the people the bounty of indulgences and the
need of true contrition.
Christian who is truly contrite seeks and loves to pay penalties for
his sins; the bounty of indulgences, however, relaxes penalties and
causes men to hate them -- at least it furnishes occasion for hating them.
indulgences must be preached with caution, lest people erroneously
think that they are preferable to other good works of love.
are to be taught that the pope does not intend that the buying of
indulgences should in any way be compared with works of mercy.
are to be taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy
does a better deed than he who buys indulgences.
love grows by works of love, man thereby becomes better. Man does
not, however, become better by means of indulgences but is merely
freed from penalties.
are to be taught that he who sees a needy man and passes him by, yet
gives his money for indulgences, does not buy papal indulgences but
are to be taught that, unless they have more than they need, they
must reserve enough for their family needs and by no means squander
it on indulgences.
are to be taught that they buying of indulgences is a matter of free
choice, not commanded.
are to be taught that the pope, in granting indulgences, needs and
thus desires their devout prayer more than their money.
are to be taught that papal indulgences are useful only if they do
not put their trust in them, but very harmful if they lose their fear
of God because of them.
are to be taught that if the pope knew the exactions of the
indulgence preachers, he would rather that the basilica of St. Peter
were burned to ashes than built up with the skin, flesh, and bones of
are to be taught that the pope would and should wish to give of his
own money, even though he had to sell the basilica of St. Peter, to
many of those from whom certain hawkers of indulgences cajole money.
- It is
vain to trust in salvation by indulgence letters, even though the
indulgence commissary, or even the pope, were to offer his soul as security.
are the enemies of Christ and the pope who forbid altogether the
preaching of the Word of God in some churches in order that
indulgences may be preached in others.
is done to the Word of God when, in the same sermon, an equal or
larger amount of time is devoted to indulgences than to the Word.
- It is
certainly the pope's sentiment that if indulgences, which are a very
insignificant thing, are celebrated with one bell, one procession,
and one ceremony, then the gospel, which is the very greatest thing,
should be preached with a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a
true treasures of the church, out of which the pope distributes
indulgences, are not sufficiently discussed or known among the people
indulgences are not temporal treasures is certainly clear, for many
indulgence sellers do not distribute them freely but only gather them.
are they the merits of Christ and the saints, for, even without the
pope, the latter always work grace for the inner man, and the cross,
death, and hell for the outer man.
Lawrence said that the poor of the church were the treasures of the
church, but he spoke according to the usage of the word in his own time.
want of consideration we say that the keys of the church, given by
the merits of Christ, are that treasure.
- For it
is clear that the pope's power is of itself sufficient for the
remission of penalties and cases reserved by himself.
true treasure of the church is the most holy gospel of the glory and
grace of God.
this treasure is naturally most odious, for it makes the first to be
last (Mt. 20:16).
- On the
other hand, the treasure of indulgences is naturally most acceptable,
for it makes the last to be first.
the treasures of the gospel are nets with which one formerly fished
for men of wealth.
treasures of indulgences are nets with which one now fishes for the
wealth of men.
indulgences which the demagogues acclaim as the greatest graces are
actually understood to be such only insofar as they promote gain.
are nevertheless in truth the most insignificant graces when compared
with the grace of God and the piety of the cross.
and curates are bound to admit the commissaries of papal indulgences
with all reverence.
they are much more bound to strain their eyes and ears lest these men
preach their own dreams instead of what the pope has commissioned.
him who speaks against the truth concerning papal indulgences be
anathema and accursed.
let him who guards against the lust and license of the indulgence
preachers be blessed.
as the pope justly thunders against those who by any means whatever
contrive harm to the sale of indulgences.
more does he intend to thunder against those who use indulgences as a
pretext to contrive harm to holy love and truth.
consider papal indulgences so great that they could absolve a man
even if he had done the impossible and had violated the mother of God
- We say
on the contrary that papal indulgences cannot remove the very least
of venial sins as far as guilt is concerned.
- To say
that even St. Peter if he were now pope, could not grant greater
graces is blasphemy against St. Peter and the pope.
- We say
on the contrary that even the present pope, or any pope whatsoever,
has greater graces at his disposal, that is, the gospel, spiritual
powers, gifts of healing, etc., as it is written. (1 Co 12[:28])
- To say
that the cross emblazoned with the papal coat of arms, and set up by
the indulgence preachers is equal in worth to the cross of Christ is blasphemy.
bishops, curates, and theologians who permit such talk to be spread
among the people will have to answer for this.
unbridled preaching of indulgences makes it difficult even for
learned men to rescue the reverence which is due the pope from
slander or from the shrewd questions of the laity.
as: ``Why does not the pope empty purgatory for the sake of holy love
and 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 reason would be most just; the latter
is most trivial.
``Why are funeral and anniversary masses for the dead continued and
why does he not return or permit the withdrawal of the endowments
founded for them, since it is wrong to pray for the redeemed?''
``What is this new piety of God and the pope that for a consideration
of money they permit a man who is impious and their enemy to buy out
of purgatory the pious soul of a friend of God and do not rather,
because of the need of that pious and beloved soul, free it for pure
``Why are the penitential canons, long since abrogated and dead in
actual fact and through disuse, now satisfied by the granting of
indulgences as though they were still alive and in force?''
``Why does not the pope, whose wealth is today greater than the
wealth of the richest Crassus, build this one basilica of St. Peter
with his own money rather than with the money of poor believers?''
``What does the pope remit or grant to those who by perfect
contrition already have a right to full remission and blessings?''
``What greater blessing could come to the church than if the pope
were to bestow these remissions and blessings on every believer a
hundred times a day, as he now does but once?''
the pope seeks the salvation of souls rather than money by his
indulgences, why does he suspend the indulgences and pardons
previously granted when they have equal efficacy?''
repress these very sharp arguments of the laity by force alone, and
not to resolve them by giving reasons, is to expose the church and
the pope to the ridicule of their enemies and to make Christians unhappy.
therefore, indulgences were preached according to the spirit and
intention of the pope, all these doubts would be readily resolved.
Indeed, they would not exist.
then, with all those prophets who say to the people of Christ,
``Peace, peace,'' and there is no peace! (Jer 6:14)
be all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, ``Cross,
cross,'' and there is no cross!
should be exhorted to be diligent in following Christ, their Head,
through penalties, death and hell.
thus be confident of entering into heaven through many tribulations
rather than through the false security of peace (Acts 14:22).