Sunday, December 9, 2007

Indulge me, please.....

Pope offers reduced Purgatory TimeShare

Here is Dr* T's one-sided view of life-after-death as seen by Roman Catholics.

Once upon a time, a man said "Follow me, so that when you die you will live forever and not fry". Pretty straight forward. Then some other chap piped up and said "Now, how's about someone does that, and then just before carking it, tells a white lie or steals or goat or something - those are unrepentant sins and so they'll fry, yah?". Much stroking of beards.

"Aha! Perhaps there is a different place in between heaven and hell where people can have a little bit of eternal punishment which will clean their filthy wretched souls and make them suitable for pearly gatedom", said a different chap followed by "and a donation to the church would help shuffle them through".

What a wheeze! People pay money to the church to help loved ones pass quickly through the little bit of eternal torment. There wasn't a strict tarriff neither was there a letter confirming when the said soul had been purified. Best to keep paying. And all this long before labour party peerages.

You can get the official version here.

Luckily, whilst on earth you can open a credit account, where the currency is The Indulgence (I$). You can be awarded indulgences which will limit the amount of time you need to stay in purgatory - although the Church is at pains to point out that it

does not claim to know anything about how long or short purgatory is in general, much less in a specific person's case

Now for most people, indulgences and purgatory are 'old skool'. A bit medieval.

Nonetheless, everyone's favourite German Pope has decided (in his infallible wisdom) that anyone visiting Lourdes in the year starting Dec 8 can have an indulgence, which will the reduce the (undefined) time spent in (undefined place) purgatory.

Lourdes remember was the place where Mary (virginal single mum) appeared as an apparition in 1858 to a 14-year-old girl. So as not to have people believe that the girl was just ADHD, The Good Lady had the decency to appear another 17 times. (Unlike the last Pope who appeared a paltry once, and even then for a split second in a bonfire. No real style.)

Only a twisted cynic would point out that 5 million visitors now come to Lourdes to see and give money to the Church there, so perhaps El Papa is showing his business sense in telling people that in this bonus year, you can reduce your time in the fires. I do hope The Sun runs this story with the headline "Herr-ching".

In the event of death (and subsequent breach of contract), I reckon you'd be hard pushed to get your money back. It's probably in the smallprint.


  1. I'm afraid dr*t, the only "one-sided" thing about all of this, is your post on the issue. It re-hashes all the old prejudices against the Catholic church *yawn*

    It's quite clear that you purposely misrepresent the church's teaching on life and death and the pious use of indulgences - though I wouldn't expect you to take the pains to find out. Indulgences are not and have never been a way to earn "money" for the church. There have been abuses in the past, on the part of over-zealous or malicious people but never on the part of the church herself. Rome has always reacted to this outrages but declaring such "indulgences" as null and void.

    The church has never ever taught that one must "pay money" to receive an indulgence at all - you'd be hard press to find an official line in any teaching of the church supporting your accusation, because it doesn't exist.

    And Lourdes is a place of pilgrimage, where Catholics and a growing numbers of non-Catholics, come to find something - whether it be something spiritual to even just a bit of solace from everyday life. No one is forced to go there or believe in it, so I really don't understand what you're whining on about.

    Sorry mate - you lose on this one.

  2. Cheers Ottaviani,

    That's why I used the phrase "one-sided"!

    And I can assure you, there is nothing malicious in my scribblings:)

    However, from the knowledge obtained from my upbringing, it's pretty clear (to me at any rate) that indulgences, purgatory, limbo (or perhaps we don't believe in that anymore?) and all the other little add-ons are really just band-aids to cover the cracks of a mindset which really doesn't (in my opinion) stand up to any critical scrutiny.

    Lourdes is garish moneytrap, however you look at it - it's certainly a strange place to go to get away from everyday life!

  3. So you were brought up a Catholic then? Are you still practising or do you believe in God any more, may I ask?

    The church still believes in purgatory and indulgences, as they taught in both scripture and sacred tradition. Unlike Protestant sects, we do not just rely on an "only bible" basis for our faith - a theory which both flawed and unscriptural and has given rise to millions of Bible-bashing denominations.

    Limbo, on the other hand is not a de fide statement but was only a hypothesis based on what some church fathers interpreted. The church is cautious to pronounce on this and has not declared it a dogma up to now.

    And what is strange about Lourdes? Do you mock Mecca too, despite the fact that people who would cut yours and my throat, shouting Allahu Akbar! go there?


  4. Fraid not. Not a big fan of any deity, I'm afraid.

    Sacred tradition carries no weight for me either. At one time it wasn't sacred tradition - it was a new idea that somebody made up. No reason at all to lend belief to it. Immaculate Conception and Assumption amongst others are fairly recent 'ideas' that in my mind at least utterly beggar belief (excuse the pun).

    But they must be true, cos the Pope said so and he is infallible. (At least since 1870). I, humbly, disagree with him.

  5. I don't recall the good JC saying "Follow me, so that when you die you will live forever and not fry". Wasn't it more "If you're all nice to each other you'll have heaven right here on earth"?

  6. I'll admit I was paraphrasing somewhat ;)

    "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgement, but has passed from death into life" John 5:24

    "These [sinners] will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." Matthew 25:46

    "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven" Matthew 6:20

    As ever, as ever, as ever, the fun and games are in the interpretation......

    You are at liberty to interpret it as you wish. I'm not sure it makes it any more believable.