Follow usTwitterFacebook


26 Oct 2015 Middle East - Africa News Vatican No comments

Pope Francis to visit the Mosque in Central Africa for peace Mission against insurgency in Africa

Pope Francis will be visiting Africa November 2015. It is so far certain now that the Pope will be visiting Uganda and Kenya first. The Pope will as well visit …

Read more

07 Nov 2014 Q&A Comments (10)

Which Bible verses support the use of holy water?

Full Question Are there Bible verses I can cite to support the use of holy water? Fundamentalists say holy water is a superstition that has no basis in the…

Read more

05 Dec 2014 Q&A Comments (10)

Isn't the God of Moses a God of rules and fear and the God of Jesus a God of life…

Full Question Didn't Jesus come to show us the Old Testament God was not the God of love? Isn't the God of Moses a God of rules and fear and the God of Jes…

Read more

08 Sep 2016 Articles No comments

'Society is still catching up': Non-Religious groups join the fight against pornography

'Their generation has consumed explicit content in quantities and varieties never before possible...' It used to be that the only people speaking out against…

Read more

03 Nov 2014 Q&A Comments (2)

Can the Church change its doctrines?

Full Question I was amazed to read recently where a Catholic priest theologian said that the Church is not infallible and that it has changed its doctrines…

Read more

03 Sep 2015 News Vatican No comments

On WWII anniversary, Pope says 'never again' to war, condemns arms trafficking

Pope Francis remembered the official end of the Second World War on Wednesday with the plea: “never again,” and he decried similar horrors from today’s bloody c…

Read more

06 Nov 2014 Q&A Comments (22)

Jesus gave the Eucharist after everybody had eaten, so why do Catholics have to fast before Mass?

Full Question Jesus gave the Eucharist at the end of the Last Supper after he and the apostles had already eaten a meal, so why do Catholics have to fast b…

Read more

05 Nov 2015 News USA Comments (3)

Christianity drops in the US: View the latest stats

The Pew Research Center carried out a seven (7) years research exercise in the US and found out that Christianity between 2007 to 2014 have experienced a fall f…

Read more

05 Sep 2015 Exhortations Resources No comments

A moral obligation to vaccinate

I was recently asked whether Catholic schools are morally obliged to require vaccination. My answer is a resounding “Yes.” Catholic and, indeed, all Christian t…

Read more
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Does the Catholic Church still sell indulgences?

  • Written by:
  • 1 Reply

Full Question

One of the causes of the Reformation was the selling of indulgences. Does the Catholic Church still sell them?


That’s like asking, “Have you stopped beating your wife?” The Catholic Church does not now nor has it ever approved the sale of indulgences. This is to be distinguished from the undeniable fact that individual Catholics (perhaps the best known of them being the German Dominican Johann Tetzel [1465-1519]) did sell indulgences–but in doing so they acted contrary to explicit Church regulations. This practice is utterly opposed to the Catholic Church’s teaching on indulgences, and it cannot be regarded as a teaching or practice of the Church.

In the 16th century, when the abuse of indulgences was at its height, Cardinal Cajetan (Tommaso de Vio, 1469-1534) wrote about the problem: “Preachers act in the name of the Church so long as they teach the doctrines of Christ and the Church; but if they teach, guided by their own minds and arbitrariness of will, things of which they are ignorant, they cannot pass as representatives of the Church; it need not be wondered at that they go astray.”

The Council of Trent (1545-1564) issued a decree that gave Church teaching on indulgences and that provided stringent guidelines to eliminate abuses:

Since the power of granting indulgences was conferred by Christ on the Church (cf. Mt 16:19, 18:18, Jn 20:23), and she has even in the earliest times made use of that power divinely given to her, the holy council teaches and commands that the use of indulgences, most salutary to the Christian people and approved by the authority of the holy councils, is to be retained in the Church, and it condemns with anathema those who assert that they are useless or deny that there is in the Church the power of granting them.

In granting them, however, it desires that in accordance with the ancient and approved custom in the Church moderation be observed, lest by too great facility ecclesiastical discipline be weakened. But desiring that the abuses which have become connected with them, and by any reason of which this excellent name of indulgences is blasphemed by the heretics, be amended and corrected, it ordains in a general way by the present decree that all evil traffic in them, which has been a most prolific source of abuses among the Christian people, be absolutely abolished. Other abuses, however, of this kind which have sprung from superstition, ignorance, irreverence, or from whatever other sources, since by reason of the manifold corruptions in places and provinces where they are committed, they cannot conveniently be prohibited individually, it commands all bishops diligently to make note of, each in his own church, and report them to the next provincial synod. (Sess. 25, Decree on Indulgences)

In 1967 Pope Paul VI reiterated Catholic teaching on indulgences and added new reforms in his apostolic constitution Indulgentiarum Doctrina (cf. Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post-Conciliar Documents, ed. Austin Flannery, O.P. [Northport, New York: Costello, 1980], 62-79).


1 comment

  1. Rita Williams Reply

    The Catholic Church has never condoned the selling of indulgences. However, there have been some misunderstandings over the gift of Mass stipends and offertory gifts.. A mass stipend is a voluntary gift which we give when asking for Mass to be said for a special intention. It does not and cannot pay for the Mass which is priceless. Rather it is a small contribution towards the needs of the Parish. The Priest cannot demand payment, to do so would be Simony. The gifts at the offertory of the Mass denote our participation in the provision of the bread and wine which are used during the Mass.

    There is also the problem of the religious tax imposed by some governments. For example, the people of Germany are required to state their religion and their pay is then taxed and the money given to the churches. This has come to the fore, as some ministers have said that anyone not registering for the tax would be excommunicated. This too is inherently wrong and if it were carried out would be an act of Simony.

    That which is Sacred cannot be sold!

Leave a Reply

  1. most read post
  2. Most Commented
  3. Choose Categories