Fr. Mark Bentz states that we are not able to buy indulgences to get to Heaven. The Church has never taught that and never will. So you may wonder, why did people sell indulgences in the middle ages? Well, most of these were sold by Johann Tetzel, which was wrong and against the Church’s teachings. Martin Luther strongly objected to these sales, and rightfully so.

A big reason why selling indulgences to get to Heaven does not line up with Catholic teachings is because indulgences alone cannot get us to Heaven. You must repent to have your sins forgiven. Indulgences are only a way of remitting the temporal punishment for sins that have already been repented from and forgiven by the Lord. So indulgences do not take away the sins themselves.

An example of this kind of mercy can be seen in a simple metaphor for sin. Let’s say you steal a candy bar and eat it. Later, you go to the store owner and apologize. If the store owner forgives you, he can still demand justice by having you pay him back. An indulgence would be like the store owner saying, “Don’t worry about it.” He is indulgent and merciful and does not demand justice.

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For references from this video, check out our “References” page.