This just in from the Vatican:
Pope Francis will grant a plenary indulgence – a remission of all temporal punishment due to sin – to World Youth Day Catholic participants, the Vatican announced July 9.
The head of the Church’s Apostolic Penitentiary, Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro, and its secretary, Bishop Krzysztof Nykiel, released a decree on July 9 that says the Pope will grant it during the July 22-29 event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“The young people and the faithful who are adequately prepared will obtain the Plenary Indulgence, once a day and under the usual conditions (sacramental Confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer in accordance with the intentions of the Holy Father), applicable also to the souls of deceased faithful,” states the decree published July 9.
The document adds that people who cannot attend World Youth Day can receive it “under the usual spiritual, sacramental and prayer conditions, in a spirit of filial submission to the Roman Pontiff.”
But this means they must participate “in the sacred functions on the days indicated, following the same rites and spiritual exercises as they occur via television or radio or, with due devotion, via the new means of social communication.”
While Christian Smith tells us to “get over” indulgences, they are still pretty hard to fathom from a biblical paradigm. I still come back to a point that Luther made in a 1516 sermon, as summarized by Roland Bainton:
To assert that the pope can deliver souls from purgatory is audacious. If he can do so, then he is cruel not to release them all. But if he possess this ability, he is in a postition to do more for the dead than for the living. . . . Indulgences can remit only those private satisfactions imposed by the Church, and may easily militate against interior penance, which consists in true contrition, true confession, and true satisfaction in spirit. (Here I Stand, 71)