Papal Pardon

Stairway to Heaven

Purgatory is for chumps

By Sam Holder March 4, 2009

You thought you had it made in the shade.

But on closer inspection of the announcements on Portland’s Archdiocese site, you’ll notice a strange phrase that you may have overheard your grandmother using after a particularly scandalous episode of Murder She Wrote:

Plenary Indulgences.

Unfortunately for all y’all Portland Catholics, confession alone will not save your soul. In exchange for your darkest, dirtiest, most depraved secrets, you can escape Mr. Lucifer—but not the boring, endless cul–de–sac that is Purgatory. This seemingly inconsequential time–out corner—where Catholics go to think about what they’ve done, the dirty sinners—is often overlooked:

"But I went to confession! I even told him about that one time…"

Fear not, my fellow men and women on the hook; help has arrived.

Last month, the Holy Father himself decided to kick it old–school and reinstate partial and plenary indulgences: a practice whereby—through confession tossed with a healthy dose of Holy Communion and acts of charity—you can fully absolve yourself (or a friend!) from, you know, cussin’ and messin’ around between the sheets with Mr. or Mrs.–doesn’t–look–so–lovely–in–the–morning.

Indulgences have been around a while. Frankly, they were all the rage in medieval times. Without distractions like an endlessly looping video of Portland’s own Rudy Fernandez dunking over Dwight Howard or, say, reality TV, these old timers had to rely on good old–fashioned sin. Like Murder. Or the Crusades. In fact, Crusaders were some of the first to have their punishments commuted by merely confessing their sins. But when the practice of ‘pay for penance’ (contributing "charitable" sums to holy officials for things like bigger buildings and gold–plated chalices) became rampant, indulgences began to lose footing in the Catholic doctrine.

Until now.

Portland’s holy men and women have embraced this Papal edict. Perhaps we’ve an inordinate amount of sin here in P–town? Maybe it’s the rain? Does Sam Adams have any comment? Regardless, if you’ve been gathering your courage to finally confess to that weekend at the Coast or that questionable hook–up, consider the present.

And, while you’re at it, have an extra shot in your espresso macchiato at the Stump or a second (or fifth) Ketel One Gimlet at Bluehour; you can always wash it away with a humble little walk of shame to the confessional. But do it quickly—there’s no telling when this Holy Magic Sponge will dry up and get tossed out with yesterday’s Vatican press releases.

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