A lot of attention has been focused on indulgences during the JubileeYear. When did they start and what are they for?
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Indulgences are the remission of temporal punishment for sin, in response to certain prayers or good works. Around the 9th century, when there were tariff penances, that is an assigned amount of work to be done to make up for sin, the idea of indulgences first develops in the western church. This gave rise to a mathematizing of Penance, counting the amount of sins and the amount of prayers or alms that would have to be done for making up one's sins. With the beginning of the crusades, Pope Urban II (1088-99) made indulgences popular and monetary. Before this, people prayed and fasted for one another to help one another attain heaven and be part of the communion of saints. The church at the Council of Trent (1545-63) defended indulgences and used scripture (Matthew 16:19 and 18:18) as a basis. At Vatican II (1962-65), the theology and practicewas reformed, removing commercial overtones and related them more to spiritually. Pope John Paul II encouraged the practice again during the jubilee year 2000.