Indulgence

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For those with more Christian tastes, the so-called experts at Wikipedia have an article about Indulgence.

A dead relative is in grave danger. To save his soul, pay £250 into account #[email protected]PayPal.com to send his soul into heaven from purgatory

~ Pope Leo X on indulgences

In Catholic theology, induglence refers to any number of gift packages or goody bags that can be purchased by the laiety in exchange for a sin refund. Since the Second Vatican Council of 1963, they have been pulled from the official Vatican City catalogue, Your Donation Is Your Salvation!, and can no longer be purchased through their website, although bootleg copies can still be found on eBay.

History[edit]

As early as 150 A.D., Grand Pope Adelaidius suggested that a more efficient system be introduced in order to curb increasing wait times at confessional booths, a problem that was become more and more acute especially in large cities like London. Faced with the prospect of losing converts to Hinduism over inefficient systems, Grand Pope Tarkin unveiled a corporate plan known as the Penance Buyback Scheme, in which the term "indulgence" was first used:

"The solution of the problem of lengthy confessional lines lies not with the quality of the service provided - our good priests of the land cannot reduce the lengths of their confessional service any more without dramatically decreasing the quality of the forgiveness given. Based on analyses performed for the fiscal years ( FYs ) of 146, 147, 148, and 149, 89.2% of people partaking in the sacrament of reconciliation remarked that the service ranged from 'adequate' to 'excellent', which is a laudable effort on the part of our personnel.
"Nonetheless, waiting times for a confession heard have increased markedly - in 146, the average waiting time was 12 minutes, while in 149, the average waiting time spiked to 50 minutes, representing an increase of more than 400%!
"Given such a reality, it is my proposition that the lengths of confessions heard not be reduced, but instead, that alternative suggestions be offered. I propose what I will henceforth term as a Penance Buyback Scheme ( PBS ), in which clients may purchase what I have come to term as "indulgences" in order to cleanse the state of their souls."
Grand Pope Tarkin, "A Detailed Analysis of Services Provided By Confessional Ministers and a Solution in the Form of a Penance Buyback Scheme", June 151

The scheme was approved by the Vatican City Board of Trustees in 153. The sale of indulgences was met with a mixed response from theologians. Some like Jesuit priest Lundius Superbus, gave the scheme high praise:

"Grand Pope Tarkin could have not made a better move. The process of forgiveness has finally become more streamlined, more efficient. Now if you'll excuse me, I have five bucks left over that I can use to try and 'cover up' an 'incident' that happened on Friday night..."

Others, like Bishop Fulton Sheen, regarded the move with largely negative views:

"This idea is shit."

How It Works[edit]

The actual process of forgiveness as proffered by the purchasing of indulgences is unknown, although Vatican officials routinely claimed that it "really, really works". Buyers often feel a sense of relief after purchasing particularly large indulgences, accompanied by the urge to suddenly help old ladies across the street.

A purchasing scheme was released by the Vatican in 1509 regarding the appropriate indulgence to be bought depending on the nature of sin in need of forgiveness:

Indulgences No More[edit]

In 1963, the Second Vatican Council voted in favour of removing indulgences entirely from the Vatican City catalogue. The liberal media frequently states that this was due to external pressure from Protestant churches. In reality, however, the system of indulgences was simply becoming to complicated to maintain, with logistics costs alone costing the Vatican several billion dollars a year. All predictors indicated that the Penance Buyback Scheme was due to suffer massive losses within fifty years, especially with the introduction of drive-thru confessionals and online reconciliation portals launched under papal initiatives some years earlier. Thus, the decision was made to trim the fat before the fat choked up the theoretical arteries of the Catholic Church, so to speak.