"Why are we bringing it back? Because there is sin in the world."
With that matter-of-fact answer one Catholic bishop in Brooklyn explained why the Church has decided to start peddling indulgences —or, get-out-of-purgatory
Technically believers haven't been able to purchase indulgences outright since 1857. But, you can exchange a charitable contribution and confession, or a combination of other acts for reduced time in purgatory. According to the Church, sinners must face punishment in purgatory before they make it to heaven.
Plenary indulgences, which erase all the time a sinner must spend in purgatory, only come around every so often. Right now they're being offered in conjunction with a yearlong celebration of St. Paul, and they're available for you, or someone you know (dead or alive).
So are Catholics lining up to participate in something as confusing as this? According to the New York Times, many are eager for the opportunity to "do something Catholic" in these modern times.