Updating indulgences

I believe it should suffice to say that during the Middle Ages the Church, at least in Europe, had reached such a level of superstition that all sorts of religious activities—like pilgrimages and obtaining relics—were seen as having the power to forgive sins.That this superstition should have developed in later medieval Christianity into the sale of pieces of paper promising relief from purgatory is no surprise.However, just because a Church authority said that sins could be forgiven in exchange for a pilgrimage doesn't mean that they believed in the doctrine of superabundant merits of the saints.So what we're tracking is the change in the meaning of the word indulgence, and that's much harder to track than just finding out when the word began to be used.The difficult and complicated doctrine of indulgences is peculiar to the Roman Church. It was developed by the mediaeval schoolmen, and sanctioned by the Council of Trent (Dec.4, 1563), yet without a definition and with an express warning against abuses and evil gains.

But the explanation of this may be found in the abuses which unhappily have been associated with what is in itself a salutary practice.Personally, I agree that works play a role in going to heaven, but this idea of transferring someone's good works to someone else has no basis that I can find in Scripture or early Christian history.Scripture talks about the righteousness of Christ being applied to those who repent and follow him, but because of faith, not because of charitable giving.tells us that the only problem with indulgences is that certain clergymen used it for "pecuniary" or monetary gain.Except for these rogue clergymen, the belief that the leftover good works of the saints can be applied to others is regarded as "salutary."So exactly how does the Roman Catholic Church describe indulgences?

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