It is believed by some that the Roman communion has abandoned the doctrine and practice of indulgences. The HB has noted, however, that the practice of indulgences continues. In one of these posts it was suggested that Rome has never authorized the selling of indulgences. Of course Tetzel would have been surprised by such a claim. Today I ran across this language from the Council of Constance (1414-18) (against Wycliffe and Hus):
Can. 28 “Likewise, whether he believes that, for a just and holy reason, the pope can grant indulgences for the remission of sins to all Christians who are truly contrite and have confessed, especially to those who make pilgrimages to the holy places and to those contributing to them.
27. And whether he believes that by reason of this sort of grant those who visit the church and those contribute to them can gain indulgences of this kind.
[italics added – rsc]
As background I’m reading Reinhold Kiermayr, “How Much Money Was Actually in the Indulgence Chest?,” Sixteenth-Century Journal 17.3 (1986): 303-18.
UPDATE 17 Mar 09
From Kiermayr’s essay:
In the sixteenth century, and even well before, indulgences no longer reflected that lofty dogmatic purpose given them St. Thomas Aquinas; the medieval institution had taken on a purely revenue generating character. The theological context of indulgences or their dogmatic validity were no longer the subject of much public discussion; attention focused on their financial aspects and quite naturally their abuses (304).