An “anti-ecumenical” indulgence

Source: FSSPX News


On the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, Benedict XVI granted a plenary indulgence for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, 2005. The Pope had already granted a plenary indulgence to the faithful who had participated with enthusiasm at World Youth Day (WYD), in Cologne last August. This decision stirred up controversy in the fatherland of Luther, many Lutherans and Protestants describing the pontifical decision as “anti-ecumenical”, the Protestant Reformation being, in part, born of the condemnation of Indulgences by Martin Luther in his 95 theses presented at Wittemberg, on October 31, 1517.

 Concerning the Indulgence of December 8, the Protestant theologian Paolo Ricca accused Pope Benedict XVI of putting back Christian unity. “The Catholic Church is totally free to grant all the indulgences she wishes, but to insist on the things which are divisive… mortifies the hope of those who work for Christian unity,” declared this professor of Protestant Waldensian theology in Rome.

 According to him, linking the Council with Indulgences , means “heading in a different direction from that followed by Vatican II, which, in not one of its documents recommends recourse to Indulgences.” “It seems to us,” stressed Paolo Ricca, “that if the present pope had really wanted to honor the Council, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of its conclusion, he should not have promulgated the Indulgence or linked it with Marian devotion.”

 Following his election in April, the pope stated that his “first task” would be to promote the unity of Christians. But, lamented Paolo Ricca, “we are disconcerted by such frequent and ostentatious recourse, on the part of Benedict XVI, to indulgences whose practice contributed so much to the division of the Church in the West.”