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not claim infallibility for herself or for the Pope in matters of law, precept, or government generally, but only in formal decisions concerning faith and morals. So that if-though it is really a practically impossible supposition—the Pope were to order any Catholic to commit murder or any other crime, the command would not be considered as having any binding force, but would rather be an evidence of insanity on the part of him that would issue such an order. And the same would, of course, also apply to any bishop, or superior in a religious order, issuing such commands to his subjects. No one would think for a moment that any obligation was attached to them.

I think we have now discussed all the principal matters requiring explanation in the profession of faith which has made our text. As, however, there are other points which give difficulty to many, and occasion of criticism or of objection to the Church, it will be well to devote some space to the consideration of at least the more prominent of these.



T is probable that there is among Protestants

a more obstinate-for I really must say so -and a more complete misunderstanding on the point of Catholic doctrine named first in the head of this chapter, than on any other. I say

'obstinate"; for the truth on this point has been stated so repeatedly that it seems impossible that it should not have been, at least to a great extent, accepted in the Protestant world by this time, had it not been for a firm determination not to accept it, and to regard us as either deceivers or deceived regarding it. We find the word “indulgence" continually understood by Protestant Christians, and even stated in their books, as being a permission to commit sin.

In itself this misunderstanding may not be so extraordinary or unnatural; for indulgence, in the common English sense, certainly does often mean an allowance or permission to do some things which would otherwise be against the rules. We generally mean by an “indulgent” father, for instance, one who does not keep a very tight rein on his children, but allows them to do various things which a more

strict one would forbid. And we also mean by “indulging" ourselves,

ourselves, allowing ourselves pleasures which, if we were very conscientious, we should avoid. When we indulge ourselves, it is understood that we turn aside somewhat from the path of duty.

But the word indulgence has another sense, too. A father would also be called indulgent if he, while making strict rules for his children, and appointing punishments for their infraction, should be moved by compassion for the children so as to remit some portion of these punishments, and try to correct their faults by love and kindness rather than by fear and severity.

Now, this latter is the idea attached to the word indulgence, in the sense in which it is used by the Church.

To understand it more clearly let us look into the facts of history.

In the early days of the Christian Church severe penalties were appointed for those who fell into grievous sins, especially when those sins were public and scandalous.

Of course, these penalties or penances could only be inflicted after the repentance of those who had sinned; for while still continuing in their sin they would not submit to them. The most common ones were in the way of fasting, which might continue with more or less strictness for

years. A long time also intervened in some cases before the offenders could be restored to the full communion of the Church; and they were required to remain also in a separate place by the door at public service. It is hardly necessary to go into details concerning this matter; still a few examples may be given to show the rigor of this ancient discipline. Its rules were too numerous for us to do more than take a specimen here and there.

1. If any one shall do any servile work on a Sunday or holyday, he shall do penance three days on bread and water.

2. He who breaks the fast in Lent, for each day shall do penance for seven days.

3. He who curses his parents, shall be penitent forty days on bread and water.

4. An usurer, three years, one on bread and water.

5. An adulterer, five to twelve years, according to circumstances.

6. A mother guilty of infanticide, twelve years.

7. If any one shall swear falsely through avarice, he shall sell all his goods and give the price to the poor; and entering a monastery, do penance all his life.

Of course these were different in different parts of the Church, and at different times.

As time went on, and the fervor of the faith

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ful became somewhat relaxed with the greater prosperity of the Church, it was found impossible to get these severe penances performed, and it became evident that if they were still insisted on, the effect would be to prevent repentance rather than to insure its being thorough and sincere; so, naturally, a true zeal for the salvation of souls required a reduction of their rigor, and that for them some easier works of penance should be substituted. This substitution of the easier for the more difficult was known by the name of an indulgence. At the present day it is found impracticable to enjoin much penance beyond what the second precept of the Church, which has just been explained, requires, except to those who are exceptionally pious and fervent; so that the prayers and works which have taken the place of the old canonical penances, and which are now called indulgences or indulgenced prayers and devotions, are, as a rule, very easily performed.

They are divided into two classes, plenary and partial. The plenary indulgence is attached to certain works, usually somewhat considerable, though no more than can be performed by any one really anxious to satisfy for his sins, and is understood as making such works an equivalent for all that ought to be done in that way; the partial, to works or prayers less in amount.

Partial indulgences

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