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Definition:.   The permission by the Pope or Bishops to violate the Canon Law (Rules) of the Catholic Church. For example, a law was enacted a law which made abstaining from meat mandatory on Saturdays by Pope Gregory VII (1073-85). Any Catholic who intentionally ate meat on Saturday would incur a mortal sin. However, with the law still in effect, special indults have been set in place to temporarily abrogate the rule. Another example of an indult was the allowance of the Latin Mass with the permission of the local Bishops by John Paul II in 1983. The Latin Mass was outlawed by Vatican II and replaced by a new liturgy in the vernacular. Thus, from 1983 to 2007 the Latin mass was permitted in certain cases. In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI enacted new legislation permitting all parishes to celebrate the Tridentine liturgy.

Discussion: The enactment of arbitrary laws (and the abrogation of such laws through indults) binds the consciences of Catholics where the Bible is silent. One of the marks of cultic behavior is the presence of constantly changing esoteric rules which adherents must unquestioningly follow.

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