My college roommates and I used to talk about earning “Purgatory points,” usually by putting up with a particularly obnoxious person. Well, apparently back in 2000 Pope John Paul II reintroduced indulgences and now Pope Benedict XVI has been authorizing further offers of indulgences, this year linked to the year of St. Paul. This NYTimes article is the first that I had heard of it and apparently I am not alone. The news is news to many interviewed for the article.
I was raised in a Presbyterian home and I am now an Episcopalian, inching closer to Rome as one friend put it, but I am still Reformed enough in my theology to respectfully disagree with my Catholic friends on certain matters and this would be one of those. It does bring up the more serious question for me, what is Pope Benedict up to? He has brought back the Latin mass, reinstated 4 bishops who were excommunicated, including one who has recently denied aspects of the Holocaust and said that the US staged the 9/11 attacks as a pretense for attacking Afghanistan and Iraq. What is he doing? I had great respect for Pope John Paul II, a pope who opened up the church to so many Protestants, and I continue to have great respect for the church but I really am scratching my head right now….