03/12/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Indulgences Make A Catholic Comeback

The announcement in church bulletins and on Web sites has been greeted with enthusiasm by some and wariness by others. But mainly, it has gone over the heads of a vast generation of Roman Catholics who have no idea what it means: "Bishop Announces Plenary Indulgences."

In recent months, dioceses around the world have been offering Catholics a spiritual benefit that fell out of favor decades ago -- the indulgence, a sort of amnesty from punishment in the afterlife -- and reminding them of the church's clout in mitigating the wages of sin...

"Why are we bringing it back?" asked Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio of Brooklyn, who has embraced the move. "Because there is sin in the world."

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