[quote="donanobis, post:31, topic:47758"]
Can you point us to a source that says belief in indulgences is required and not optional?
Here you go. :D
The Church possesses the power to grand indulgences is de fide, that is without a doubt required dogma of the Faith as stated in the Council of Trent:
"Whereas the power of conferring Indulgences was granted by Christ to the Church; and she has, even in the most ancient times, used the said power, delivered unto her of God; the sacred holy Synod teaches, and enjoins, that the use of Indulgences, for the Christian people most salutary, and approved of by the authority of sacred Councils, is to be retained in the Church; and It condemns with anathema those who either assert, that they are useless; or who deny that there is in the Church the power of granting them."*
The source of indulgences is the Church's treasury of satisfaction which consists of the superabundant satisfactions of Christ and the saints. (sent. certa.)
The use of Indulgences is useful and salutary to the Faithful (de fide.) D 989, D998.
- Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma
If you look at the penance due to sin, that is the proper and true full penance for each sin, it is large. Even for "small" sins. And so up to but the -most recent- (I'm afraid lax and somewhat corrupt at best) times, you have a constant tradition of pilgrimages, mortifications, etc.
This is because every sin as a matter of justice is due real penance by the person who committed the sin. It is demanded by Christ. But pastorally, confessors have for fear of scaring penitents away by them, gradually given less and less penance, which was always understood as partial and not the full penance in any case. This has changed in times of bad formation into complete lack of understanding of penance due, sadly.
However as a norm people are taught that they then after receiving their partial penance in the Confessional make up the rest of the penance on their own. But with indulgences -someone else- makes it up for you. The justice is not gotten rid of.. but the merits of Christ and the saints are applied, i.e. they suffer for you in your stead the punishment due the sin.
God's justice is so satisfied.
Indulgences are attached to prayers, penances, and other acts.. so that to encourage you to penance.. and prayer.. but also help.
Interestingly, with the revisions of the indulgences, partial indulgences are far smaller as a norm than they used to be. They used to represent large acts of penance, now they are only equal to what you put in, additionally to the penitential act. So they make up for far less of your penance in these times.
Which is something to send people running to the Divine Mercy devotion, I might say at the least. But also people should desire to do some of their penances, because without penance there is no salvation.