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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.Priests, vicars general, abbots, and generals of religious orders cannot grant indulgences unless specially authorized to do so. From what has been said above, it is clear that the recipient must be free from the guilt of mortal sin.On the other hand, the pope can empower a cleric who is not a priest to give an indulgence (St. Furthermore, for plenary indulgences, confession and Communion are usually required, while for partial indulgences, though confession is not obligatory, the formula corde saltem contrito , i.e.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.
Real indulgences are attached to the use of certain objects (crucifix, rosary, medal ); personal are those which do not require the use of any such material thing, or which are granted only to a certain class of individuals, e.g. The most important distinction, however, is that between plenary indulgences and partial.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 ).God alone knows what penalty remains to be paid and what its precise amount is in severity and duration.Finally, some indulgences are granted in behalf of the living only, while others may be applied in behalf of the souls departed.
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The word indulgence ( Latin indulgentia , from indulgeo , to be kind or tender) originally meant kindness or favor; in post-classic Latin it came to mean the remission of a tax or debt.