The word used by Folly for 'pardons' is a non-technical term which, while it suggests the forgiveness of sins, does not explicitly affirm anything beyond the much-disputed remissions not of guilt but of the residual 'temporal debt' due to sin which were known as indulgences. The 'temporal debt' remained after the sin itself had been repudiated and its guilt therefore remitted, and it is about this limited and residual effect of sin that the dispute raged. Indulgences were granted in particular for onerous works or for alms donated to specific causes (like the building of St Peter's in Rome or the prosecution of wars against the Turks). They could be applied to the souls of the defunct, thereby hastening or obtaining their release from Purgatory, the state of final purification from the effects of sin which was conceived as extending for definite but varying periods of time. In effect, therefore, if it was not possible to buy forgiveness from sin, it was possible to buy the souls of the dead out of Purgatory and into heaven, and to buy off the residual effects of one's own repented sins. Folly's remarks are carefully limited to counterfeit indulgences, just as her remarks about magic signs and prayers are carefully confined to those of venal impostors.
Erasmus frequently expresses himself about indulgences, the chief subject of Luther's Wittenberg theses of 1517, most notably in the Enchiridion and the Exomologesis, always taking the view that all religious practice should be the expression of an inner moral conversion.
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