The president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, Cardinal Walter Kasper, said last week that "indulgences remind us of the need for salvation, which can only come through Jesus Christ. They also remind us that the Christian life is a spiritual battle and is penitential by nature."
The cardinal’s comments were published in an article by the L’Osservatore Romano in which he also stated that indulgences are intended to be "a useful and beneficial pastoral aid to confront the struggle against the power and violence of evil, with the grace of God and the help of the intercession of the entire community of saints."
Indulgences show us that life is a journey of "constant repentance, penance and continual struggle," the cardinal added. "A life of this kind is only possible thanks to the strength of the inexhaustible grace of Jesus Christ," he said.
This concept is "difficult for many Catholic Christians," he continued, because it contrasts with a "soft Christian life that does not take the reality of sin and its consequences seriously and does not see personal salvation as a problem any more."
Cardinal Kasper stressed that indulgences are only "truly understandable when linked to the Sacrament of Penance and they presuppose personal repentance and the reception of the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist. They also imply forgiveness of sins," he concluded.