It was on this date, January 27, 1343, that Pope Clement VI issued a bull, Unigenitus, officially reaffirming that the Catholic Church can grant remission of sin through indulgences. The sale of indulgences was the chief concern of Martin Luther and the chief cause of the Protestant Reformation. But, the scheme is fortuitous on a number of levels: the Christian can avoid the expense of a journey to Rome in a Jubilee Year; the horrific doctrine of Hell is mitigated by the invention of Purgatory, where minor sins can be expunged before going to heaven; and the Catholic Church can make piles of money by “taxing” the granting of “remittance” of sin: that is, granting a partial pardon, or shortening of torture, in the afterlife…
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Originally published January 2003 by Ronald Bruce Meyer.
Here’s your Week in Freethought History: This is more than just a calendar of events or mini-biographies – it’s a reminder that, no matter how isolated and alone we may feel at times, we as freethinkers are neither unique nor alone in the world. Last Sunday, October 7, but in 1865, U.S. businessman Ezra Cornell, […]