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:
— have the interior disposition of complete detachment from sin, even
— have sacramentally confessed their sins;
— receive the Holy Eucharist (it is certainly better to receive it
while participating in Holy Mass, but for the indulgence only Holy Communion
— pray for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff.
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
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
— Either make a pious pilgrimage to a Jubilee shrine or
place (for Rome: one of the four Patriarchal Basilicas — St Peter, St John
Lateran, St Mary Major, St Paul —, or to the Basilica of the Holy Cross in
Jerusalem, the Basilica of St Laurence in Campo Verano, the Shrine of Our Lady
of Divine Love or one of the Christian Catacombs, and participate there in
Holy Mass or another liturgical celebration (Lauds or Vespers) or some pious
exercise (the Stations of the Cross, the Rosary, the recitation of the Akathistos
— or make a pious visit, as a group or individually, to one of
these same Jubilee places, and there spend some time in Eucharistic adoration
and pious meditations, ending with the "Our Father", the profession
of faith in any approved form and prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
9. Works of mercy or charity
— Either visit for a suitable time their brothers or
sisters in need or in difficulty (the sick, the imprisoned, the elderly
living alone, the handicapped, etc.), as if making a pilgrimage to Christ
present in them;
— or support by a significant contribution works of a religious
or social nature (for the benefit of abandoned children, young people in
trouble, the elderly in need, foreigners in various countries seeking better
— or devote a suitable part of personal free time to activities
benefiting the community or other similar forms of personal sacrifice.
10. Acts of penance
For at least one whole day
— Either abstain from unnecessary consumption (smoking, alcohol,
— or fast,
— or abstain from meat (or other food according to the
specific norms of the Bishops' Conferences), and donate a proportionate sum
of money to the poor.
Given in Rome at the offices of the Apostolic Penitentiary, 29 January 2000.
Cardinal William Wakefield Baum
Bishop Luigi De Magistris
Titular Bishop of Nova