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These indulgences are not applicable to the souls departed.
They can be gained by persons not belonging to the diocese, but temporarily within its limits; and by the subjects of the granting bishop, whether these are within the diocese or outside--except when the indulgence is local. The mere fact that the Church proclaims an indulgence does not imply that it can be gained without effort on the part of the faithful.
In the Bull "Exsurge Domine", 15 June, 1520, Leo X condemned Luther's assertions that "Indulgences are pious frauds of the faithful"; and that "Indulgences do not avail those who really gain them for the remission of the penalty due to actual sin in the sight of God's justice " (Enchiridion, 75S, 759), The Council of Trent (Sess, XXV, 3-4, Dec., 1563) declared: "Since the power of granting indulgences has been given to the Church by Christ, and since the Church from the earliest times has made use of this Divinely given power, the holy synod teaches and ordains that the use of indulgences, as most salutary to Christians and as approved by the authority of the councils, shall be retained in the Church ; and it further pronounces anathema against those who either declare that indulgences are useless or deny that the Church has the power to grant them (Enchridion, 989). The existence of an infinite treasury of merits in the Church is dogmatically set forth in the Bull "Unigenitus", published by Clement VI, 27 Jan., 1343, and later inserted in the "Corpus Juris" (Extrav. This treasury is left to the keeping, not of the individual Christian, but of the Church.
It is therefore of faith ( de fide ) An essential element in indulgences is the application to one person of the satisfaction performed by others. Consequently, to make it available for the faithful, there is required an exercise of authority, which alone can determine in what way, on what terms, and to what extent, indulgences may be granted.
Among the equivalent terms used in antiquity were pax, remissio, donatio, condonatio .
To facilitate explanation, it may be well to state what an indulgence is not.
God alone knows what penalty remains to be paid and what its precise amount is in severity and duration.
In Roman law and in the Vulgate of the Old Testament ( Isaiah 61:1 ) it was used to express release from captivity or punishment.she petitions God to accept these works of satisfaction and in consideration thereof to mitigate or shorten the sufferings of the souls in Purgatory.The distribution of the merits contained in the treasury of the Church is an exercise of authority ( potestas iurisdictionis ), not of the power conferred by Holy orders ( potestas ordinis ).Least of all is an indulgence the purchase of a pardon which secures the buyer's salvation or releases the soul of another from Purgatory.
The absurdity of such notions must be obvious to any one who forms a correct idea of what the Catholic Church really teaches on this subject.
Hence the pope, as supreme head of the Church on earth, can grant all kinds of indulgences to any and all of the faithful; and he alone can grant plenary indulgences.