In a press conference held at 815 Second Avenue, in New York, Barnes gave an illustration of how "Schoring UP" works:
Say that you are a real estate developer, and you have an inner city development project you want to build. However, there is some moral obstacle to its going forward -- perhaps it would involve tearing down an historical building, or eliminating the city's oldest tree, or something like that, something of which everyone familiar with your project strongly disapproves, and tells you you will "rot in hell" if you go forward. You get around that obstacle by submitting an application to my office. The Presiding Bishop's staff will review the application, and present it to her for approval. She issues you a "Certificate of Permission", all duly signed and embossed with a genuine wax seal, which declares that you are permitted to go forward as planned, and that any offenses or sins you might commit in doing so are forgiven in advance. So now you can proceed, without worrying about the consequences for your salvation.
Or say that you want to abandon your elderly parent, who is unfortunately afflicted with Alzheimer's disease, to a nursing home of questionable reputation, but with an affordable monthly fee. You submit your application to my office, pay the required fee, and voila! You have your approval to proceed, again without any worries about your ultimate salvation.
We call it "Schoring UP" because Bishop Schori literally shores you up, so to speak, in your eternal accounts so that you will not have to fear condemnation. At the same time, of course, the anticipated fees which applicants will pay should go a long way to shoring up the finances of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, which is the corporate arm of the Episcopal Church.
Asked how much the fees are, Barnes replied:
The amount is established by your application -- that's why it goes to my office first. When I was on holiday last year in Germany, I by chance came across this old volume which used to be in the library of Johann Tetzel, who sold indulgences for Pope Leo X. It lists every mortal and venial sin or offense known to man, and shows the fee he charged for forgiving it. I commissioned a translation, along with an updating of the amounts to today's dollars, when after I told the Presiding Bishop about my discovery, she suggested I find a way to put it to the Church's good use. "Schoring UP" is the result, and I am very proud to have played my part in it. We expect to be able to retire our $60 million line of credit in absolutely no time. We began with a test program here in New York, and just the applications from the members of Trinity Wall Street alone have already brought in over fifteen million dollars! Needless to say, we have high expectations, but I believe strongly they will be met, or even surpassed.
"Is there anything the Presiding Bishop will not forgive?" a reporter asked. Barnes replied:
If there is, we haven't run into it yet. Of course, the contents of the applications are all confidential, but I can tell you there have been some doozies, about which not even I was sure, and so I doubled the calculated fee, which was already pretty steep. But once the fee was paid, the application sailed through. I can tell you one applicant's name, I think, without violating any confidence -- it was a Mr. Bernard Madoff. That was when we were running the pilot program, however, and while we weren't able to help Mr. Madoff with the criminal authorities, we made sure that his heavenly accounts were squared.
When another reporter noted that Barnes had referred to the infamous papal indulgences, the sale of which started the Protestant Reformation, and asked how what the Episcopal Church was doing was any different, Barnes admitted there was little practical difference. Then he went on:
We are not doing anything new here, it is true. But it is also true that we are not the only church doing this. The Catholic Church, for example, still issues indulgences today. They say you can't "buy" them, because the Pope outlawed the selling of indulgences in 1567, I think it was. But you can "earn" them through an appropriate "charitable contribution" -- which is no different from how we are doing it. So we have the papal imprimatur, as it were. It's just that we all agreed here that the word "indulgence" came with too much baggage attached. Neva Rae Fox came up with the idea of "Schoring UP", which we all thought was brilliant. So that's what we decided to go with.
And unlike the Catholic Church, we don't limit you to one indulgence -- or as we call it, permission -- per day! Remember, it's "unlimited permissions". You will find application forms at the rear of the room -- please take some and spread them around. We haven't implemented it yet, but we are talking about a commission program. We know it worked to get St. Peter's basilica built, and we just have to work out the legal details. Chancellor Beers has assigned a special legal team to it, and we should have another announcement shortly.
And with that, saying that he had to get back to his desk to deal with some newly arrived applications, he thanked us and ended the press conference.