In the grand scope of history the Great Depression was but an economic burp and fart compared to the unholy shit-storm that was the Medieval period. Woe to ye who think that a collapse of a simple banking system or massive national debt would be enough to bring Western humanity back to the nadir of the Middle Ages! And yet today, we are one fraction of a step closer to non-secular feudalism than we were in our immediate yesteryear, as the Church is officially handing out indulgences again. Actually, apparently you’ve been able to do this since John Paul II, and it exists as a not-for-sale impetus to get Catholics back into the confession box; but Benedict has ratcheted up the retro-spiritual maneuver by making them more available.
But, hold on there, Martin Luther, before you go writing your 96th thesis, you should know that the Church most definitely isn’t selling them anymore, they stopped doing that in the pre-infallible days. For those not in the know, just because you go to church on Sundays and go to confession every once and a while doesn’t mean you won’t be left sucking Tabasco sauce for all eternity in hell after you kick it. Oh no, for that kind of forgiveness, the Church is going to need something a bit more substantive… like charitable contributions either monetary or voluntary. You can get the whole theological argument from the good folks at the New York Times, here.