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WordAlone Book
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A compilation of essays and comments by concerned pastors, theologians and laypersons, challenging denominations who are denying Christ’s resurrection, ‘demythologizing’ Scripture, blessing same-sex relationships, ordaining non-celibate homosexuals.

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Vatican II Verifications

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Part Two

There have many misconceptions that Vatican II changed many things in the Church and "we don't do it that way anymore" has become the refrain in all too many parishes throughout the world. However, surprise! It hasn't changed that much! To prove this, we go to the source: the Vatican Council Postconciliar Documents, expertly compiled by the revered Dominican Austin P. Flannery in two volumes.

We continue our three part sixth "bone to pick" with dissenters on the subject of Indulgences, tying in with our topic which we will continue to cover next week in "Catechism Capsules." There has been a misconception that Vatican II threw out indulgences because they were "superstitious" and out-moded. Wrong! In fact the Vatican II documents make it very clear that indulgences are still very much in vogue as we highlight just what was decreed at the Second Vatican Council below and continue next week in this same column taken from VATICAN COUNCIL II, VOLUME II, More Postconciliar Documents; General Editor Austin Flannery, O.P. Costello Publishing Company, Part Six, pages 62-79 on the APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTION ON THE REVISION OF INDULGENCES (Paul VI, Indulgentiarum Doctrina, 1 January, 1967).


9. We recall briefly the most important considerations. First, the practice of indulgences is beneficial because it teaches us to "know and see that it is evil and bitter for us to forsake...the Lord our God." (44) Really, when they gain indulgences the faithful understand that by their own powers they could not remedy the harm they have done to themselves and to the whole community by their sin. They are therefore moved to a salutary humility.

10. Moreover, the religious practice of indulgences arouses again confidence and hope that we can be fully reconciled with the Father. But it does not do this in a way which would justify negligence of any kind or in the slightest manner lessen the effort one has to make to acquire the dispositions that are needed for full communion with God. While it is true that indulgences are free gifts, they are granted only on fixed conditions for the living as well as for the dead. To gain indulgences the work prescribed must be done. But that is not all. The faithful must have the dispositions that are necessary. These are that they must love God, hate sin, trust in Christ’s merits, and believe firmly in the great help they obtain from the Communion of saints.


11. Supported by these truths, holy Mother Church again recommends the practice of indulgences to the faithful. It has been very dear to Christian people for many centuries as well as in our own day. Experience proves this. Still, the Church does not intend in any way to lessen the value of other means of holiness and purification. First and foremost among these are the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Penance. Neither does the Church reduce the importance of the many helps which are called sacramentals nor of the works of piety, penitence and charity. All these things have one thing in common: they make people holy and purify them all the ore effectively according to the closeness of their union with Christ the Head and with the Body of the Church by charity. Indulgences also confirm the preeminence of charity in the Christian life. This is because indulgences cannot be gained without a sincere conversion of outlook and unity with God. The doing of the prescribed works is added to these things. The order of charity is preserved in this way. The remission of punishment by distribution from the Church’s treasury is incorporated into it.

January 9-11, 1998 volume 9, no. 7; Vatican II Verifications