THE GIFT OF THE INDULGENCE
The celebration of the Jubilee Year is not only an extraordinary occasion for benefiting from the great gift of indulgences which the Lord gives us through the Church, but it is also a fitting opportunity to recall the catechesis on indulgences to the attention of the faithful. The Apostolic Penitentiary is therefore publishing this sacred notice for the benefit of all who will be making Jubilee visits.
General Remarks On Indulgences
1. This is how an indulgence is defined in the Code of Canon Law (can. 992) and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 1471): "An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints".
2. In general, the gaining of indulgences requires certain prescribed conditions (below, nn. 3, 4), and the performance of certain prescribed works (nn. 8, 9, 10 indicate those specific to the Holy Year).
3. To gain indulgences, whether plenary or partial, it is necessary that the faithful be in the state of grace at least at the time the indulgenced work is completed.
4. A plenary indulgence can be gained only once a day. In order to obtain it, the faithful must, in addition to being in the state of grace:
5. It is appropriate, but not necessary, that the sacramental Confession and especially Holy Communion and the prayer for the Pope's intentions take place on the same day that the indulgenced work is performed; but it is sufficient that these sacred rites and prayers be carried out within several days (about 20) before or after the indulgenced act. Prayer for the Pope's intentions is left to the choice of the faithful, but an "Our Father" and a "Hail Mary" are suggested. One sacramental Confession suffices for several plenary indulgences, but a separate Holy Communion and a separate prayer for the Holy Father's intentions are required for each plenary indulgence.
6. For the sake of those legitimately impeded, confessors can commute both the work prescribed and the conditions required (except, obviously, detachment from even venial sin).
7. Indulgences can always be applied either to oneself or to the souls of the deceased, but they cannot be applied to other persons living on earth.
Specific Aspects Of The Jubilee Year
Having fulfilled the necessary conditions in nn. 3-4, the faithful may gain the Jubilee indulgence by performing one of the following works, listed here below in three categories:
8. Works of piety or religion
9. Works of mercy or charity
10. Acts of penance
For at least one whole day
Given in Rome at the offices of the Apostolic Penitentiary, 29 January 2000.
Cardinal William Wakefield Baum
Bishop Luigi De Magistris