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Italy

We Are Church in Austria, Brazil, France, Germany, Ireland and Spain endorse this statement by Noi Siamo Chiesa.

It is five years since the publication of the most important text of Pope Francis, Laudato SI, an encyclical indicating the road to the Church and to society for believers and non-believers.

[ Italian - original text ]

Reflections and initiatives on the protection of creation and its connection with peace and with justice have travelled the Christian world, from the World Council of Churches to Cartha Oecumenica of 2001. However, awareness of this issue has never become, over time, a common patrimony of feeling community in the Church so that it was taught in the seminaries, in the preparation for the sacraments, in the reflection on the Word of God. It should also be noted that nothing specific was written in the Council’s documents and also in the Catechism of 1992.


A Peasant Girl buying an indulgence - Francois Marius Granet 1775 - 1849 

While everyone's attention is on other things at this particular period of the life of the Church, an old idea is being revived about which we must speak out. We examine it in the attached document (after having considered the coronavirus and the life of the Church, read http://www.noisiamochiesa.org/?p=7997 ). It concerns the revival of Indulgences, a relatively recent ecclesiastical practice in the history of the Church. Ignored in the first millennium (and still today in the Orthodox Church and in Eastern rite Catholics) it was one of the major factors in the break between Luther and the papacy. 

Indulgences only became less important after the Council of Trent, then for centuries it was widely practiced, it was ignored by Vatican Council II because of a strong theological challenge and was then taken up a little by Paul VI. Indulgences have now become extraneous to the widespread feelings of most Christian people. The same Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification signed by the Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church in Augsburg on 1999 and the celebrations in Lund for the 500 years of the Reformation in 2017 went in the opposite direction and opposed the practice of Indulgences.

 Now Card. Mauro Piacenza, head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, has relaunched it in its traditional terms for coronavirus patients and for those who assist them. It was also part of Pope Francis' prayer in St. Peter's Square on March 27 and during Easter Mass.

We think that a difficult time like the present one should not be "used" to go back to a theology and a pastoral practice that is preconciliar as it is strongly anti-ecumenical. We must instead – we think - speak again in depth about sin and forgiveness. The Noi Siamo Chiesa document ends by asking some questions on how to think and live reconciliation.

Rome, April 26, 2020
NOI SIAMO CHIESA