May 6, 2005

Letters to the Editor

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Church teaching on indulgences

Today, we do not often hear of indulgences. Many years ago, indulgences got a bad name. It seems that they were being used as “fund raisers.” The practice of paying for indulgences was stopped many years ago.

But indulgences are still a part of Church teaching. There are two kinds of indulgences—partial and plenary. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says this concerning indulgences: “An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints” (#1471).

Also, “An indulgence is partial or plenary according as it removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin” (#1471).

Everything concerning indulgences was received by Pope Paul VI. These revised may be found in the Book of Indulgences, Rules and Grants published on June 29, 1968, by the Vatican.

Many people today are of the opinion that when sins are confessed to a priest and they have received absolution that that is the end of it. This is not true anymore than if you hit a baseball and broke a neighbor’s window, and all you need to do is say you’re sorry and promise never to do it again. You must after the apology pay to have the window replaced. It is the same with sin. We must do certain pious acts to repair the damage done by our sinful acts.

It is my understanding that the granting of indulgences is a gift from God given through his holy Catholic Church, and one that God wants us to accept so that we can be with him as quickly as possible after our death. Indulgences, either partial or plenary, shorten or completely eliminate time spent in purgatory. And, just as God understands our fallen nature and will forgive us as often as we ask for forgiveness, he will grant indulgences over and over again as often as we ask forgiveness and make the necessary pious acts of devotion.

You may learn more about the necessary pious acts by reading the above mentioned book.

-Winferd. E. (Bud) Moody, Indianapolis


Young Catholics and Vatican II

This is in response to Father Eugene Hemrick’s column of March 11. Father Hemrick observed the “startling finding” that 57 percent of Catholics young adults have never heard of Vatican II. Why is that startling? It might be offensive to Father Hemrick, but why should it be startling? More to the point, why should any modern Western young adult care about Vatican II and its alleged “spirit”? That is all they have ever known as a Church, and it is neither edifying nor religiously interesting.

Since the Catholic faith has not been taught in its integrity since the end of the Second Vatican Council, why should anyone be surprised? Our own bishops acknowledged the problem as a “grim harvest” in 1987! Many young adults find their spiritual and intellectual needs go unmet in the Catholic Church and go elsewhere.

Some indicators of decline since the council include: dramatic falloff in Sunday Mass attendance, plunge in vocations and Catholic giving has plummeted—Catholics voting “no confidence” with their pocketbooks. The minimal conclusion is the majority of Catholics in the United States are no longer connected to their Church. So, again, why should young adults have heard of the council?

The real reason young adults haven’t heard of the council goes deeper, and it relates to Father Hemrick’s generation, which is also mine. Many priests, bishops and theologians of our generation consciously rejected the pre-Vatican II Church. By so doing, they also rejected its deep spiritual core, which they would only mock.

In supreme arrogance, many of those clergy, bishops and secularized theologians rejected almost 2,000 years of spiritual experience and the Spirit working within the Church in favor of their ad hoc “new” Church that they defined according to the “spirit” of the council. Thus, a spiritual rupture and rejection of faith and its tradition occurred. This apostasy continues to this day. It has now come full-term, but the worst is yet to come.

Just as the “old” Church was consigned to oblivion in favor of a “new” Church, so now that “new” Church will be consigned to oblivion by those young Catholics who seek a religion of substance.

Let me illustrate this arrogance of Father Hemrick’s generation and how destructive it has been. One evening about a dozen years ago, I was entering a Catholic Church in Bloomington, near campus, to hear a religious talk—I was late. A young college student came rushing out of the talk in tears. I asked her what was wrong. The presenter had just demolished her faith! She was not prepared for the “attack mode” against her “old Church” faith sponsored by the “new” Catholic Church on display in Bloomington. Over the years, I have often wondered what became of this young woman. Does anyone even care? Such abuse has gone on so long it is moot to bring it up.

For the vast majority of Catholics, it is long too late to talk of “the richness of their religious heritage”—that has already been liquidated and replaced by the nonsense of the “spirit” of the council, which is a code word for rejecting what the council wrote in favor of what one wished it had written.

To see the results of the “spirit” of the council, look no further than Terre Haute. A venerable and wonderful order of nuns is now in the terminal stages of its geriatric demise. In 2000, its median age was 72, with only one person between the ages of 30-39. The only real question is who will own their property—I suspect that is already settled by canon law.

The dismantling of the Catholic Church that the Protestant Reformations could not accomplish externally in 450 years has been accomplished internally in 40 years. Father Hemrick notes the council cared very much for upcoming generations. If so, please explain how the council resulted in stripping those upcoming generations of their spiritual patrimony?

-Chuck Johnson, Bloomington  

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