VATICAN CITY — On the occasion of the Year of Consecrated Life that begins this weekend, Pope Francis has allowed the faithful to receive plenary indulgences, under the normal conditions.
“The Holy Father, on the occasion of the Year of Consecrated Life, will concede plenary indulgences, with the customary conditions, to all members of the institutes of consecrated life and other truly repentant faithful moved by a spirit of charity,” a Nov. 28 statement from the Vatican read.
Called by Pope Francis last fall, the Year of Consecrated Life will begin the First Sunday of Advent, Nov. 30, and will be preceded by a prayer vigil the night before.
The opportunity to receive plenary indulgences will run through the close of the year, Feb. 2, 2016. The indulgence may also be offered for souls in purgatory.
The indulgence can be obtained in Rome through participation in the meetings and celebrations set in the calendar of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life.
In all the particular Churches, the faithful can obtain the indulgence “during the days devoted to consecrated life in the diocese and during diocesan celebrations organized for the Year of Consecrated Life by visiting the cathedral or another sacred place designated with the consent of the ordinary of the place or a convent church or oratory of a cloistered monastery and publicly reciting the Liturgy of the Hours or through a suitable period of time of devout reflection."
The Vatican also specified that members of institutes of consecrated life who are unable to visit these sacred places due to health or other “serious reasons” may still obtain the indulgence if “completely detached from any type of sin and with the intention of being able to fulfill the three usual conditions as soon as possible, devoutly carry out the spiritual visit and offer their illness and the hardships of their life to God the Merciful, through Mary.”
In each of the ways to obtain the plenary indulgence, the indulgenced act is to be accompanied by the recitation of the Our Father, the Profession of Faith (Creed) and invocation of the Virgin Mary.
To help facilitate the process, Apostolic Penitentiary Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, who signed the degree, asked that the canons, members of the chapter, the priests of the institutes of consecrated life and all others make themselves more available to administer the sacraments.
He encouraged them to “hear confessions, offer themselves willingly and generously to the celebration of the sacrament of reconciliation and regularly administer holy Communion to the sick.”
An indulgence is defined as the remission of the temporal punishment — the unhealthy attachment to created things — due to sins that have already been forgiven.
The usual conditions for an indulgence — which apply to the Year of Consecrated Life — are that the individual be in the state of grace by the completion of the acts, have complete detachment from sin and pray for the Pope's intentions. The person must also sacramentally confess their sins and receive Communion up to about 20 days before or after the indulgenced act.