by Ben Klassen [from A Revolution of Values Through Religion, 1991]
The popes, the bishops, and the upper hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church lived the life of Riley, indulging in concubines, summer palaces and rich living of the highest order. Not the least in its bag of super tricks in fleecing the superstitious and the gullible was the selling of indulgences.
This neat little trick consisted of selling little slips of paper signed by the Pope or one of the upper hierarchy, saying that the recipient would get a reprieve of some kind in purgatory or even hell, and move him or her closer to heaven. The trick was to move said soul only a little closer, not all the way, so that any number of repeat sales could be effected. These indulgences supposedly would also help your dead father or mother, or uncle or Aunt Minnie, whomever you might be concerned about. But they could also help yourself as a future insurance, even if you were still alive and kicking. However preposterous these little gimmicks were, they sold like hot cakes for decades on end. The building of the luxurious new St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome (as well as many others) was primarily financed by means of this racket.
As an aside, outside of its religious connotation, there is a striking similarity in this Jewish gimmick and that practiced by the Federal Reserve Board. Both took (or take) cheap pieces of paper, put some equally cheap ink on it, then pass these phony slips of paper off on a gullible public at a dear price. So profitable was this racket of selling indulgences that it soon got out of hand, and some concerned members of the Church rose up in protest. One of these was Martin Luther, an Augustinian Monk and Roman Catholic priest who nailed his famous 95 Theses to the door of the castle church in Thuringen, Germany. The date was October 31, 1517, and this heralded the opening shot of the revolt against the Roman Catholic colossus. Luther was condemned and excommunicated by Pope Leo X, but this did not stop the rebellion that had now been set in motion.