- An indulgence is the remission in the eyes of God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose culpable element has already been taken away. The Christian faithful who are rightly disposed and observe the definite, prescribed conditions gain this remission through the effective assistance of the Church, which, as the minister of redemption, authoritatively distributes and applies the treasury of the expiatory works of Christ and the
- An indulgence is either plenary or partial; that is, it frees a person either from all or from some of the temporal punishment due to
- No one gaining an indulgence may apply it to other living
- Both partial and plenary indulgences can always be applied to the dead as
- Any of the Christian faithful who, being at least inwardly contrite, perform a work carrying with it a partial indulgence, receive through the Church the remission of temporal punishment equivalent to what their own act already
- The division of indulgences into “personal,” “real,” and “local” is no longer used. This is to make it clear that the subject of indulgences is the Christian’s act, even though such an act sometimes has a connection with a particular object or
- In addition to the supreme authority of the Church the only ones who can grant indulgences are persons who have this power recognized in law or granted them by the
- In the Roman Curia the Apostolic Penitentiary alone has been put in charge of those matters relating to the granting and use of indulgences. This is without prejudice, however, to the right of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to oversee whatever involves doctrinal teaching on
- No authority whatsoever below the pope may assign to others the power to grant indulgences, unless such has been expressly granted that authority by the Apostolic
- From the outset of their pastoral office, diocesan bishops and those equivalent to them in law have the right to:
- grant partial indulgences to the Christian faithful committed to their care;
- impart the papal blessing with a plenary indulgence, in accord with its prescribed formulary, three times a year in their own dioceses at the end of a Mass which has been celebrated with special liturgical beauty on solemnities or feasts that they will designate, even if they only assist at the Mass.
- Metropolitans may grant partial indulgences in their suffragan dioceses just as in their own.
- Patriarchs may grant partial indulgences in every place, even those exempt, of their patriarchate, in churches of their own rite outside the boundaries of their patriarchate, and everywhere in the world for the faithful of their own rite. Archbishops major have the same power.
- Cardinals possess everywhere the power to grant on particular occasions a partial indulgence that may be gained only by those persons who are present.
- No book, booklet, or pamphlet listing indulgenced grants is to be published without the permission of the local Ordinary or local Hierarch.
- The publication, in no matter what language, of an authentic collection of prayers and devotional works to which the Apostolic See has attached indulgences requires the express permission of the same Apostolic
- Those who have obtained from the pope the granting of indulgences in favor of all the faithful are bound by the obligation, under pain of nullification of the favor granted, to send to the Apostolic Penitentiary authentic copies of the concessions given to them.
- An indulgence attached to any feast is regarded as transferred to the day to which the same feast or its external observance is lawfully transferred.
- To gain an indulgence attached to a particular day any required visit to a church or oratory may be made from noon of the day preceding until midnight at the end of the assigned day.
- The Christian faithful gain a partial indulgence in devoutly using religious articles (e.g. crucifixes, crosses, rosaries, scapulars, and medals) properly blessed by any priest or deacon. But if these religious articles have been blessed by a pope or by any bishop, the faithful devoutly using them may also gain a plenary indulgence on the solemnity of the holy apostles, Peter and Paul, when they add to such use the profession of faith recited in any approved
- Indulgences attached to the visiting of a church do not expire if the church is razed and then rebuilt within fifty years on the same or virtually the same site and under the same title.
- An indulgence attached to the use of a religious article expires only when the article itself ceases to exist or is sold.
- To be capable of gaining indulgences a person must be baptized, not excommunicated, and in the state of grace at least at the time the prescribed works are completed.
- Actually to gain indulgences the person must have at least the general intention of doing so and must perform the acts enjoined at the time stipulated and in the manner required according to the tenor of the
- A plenary indulgence may be gained only once on any day.
- A member of the faithful may, however, gain a plenary indulgence at the hour of death even after having gained one already on the same day.
- A partial indulgence may be gained several times a day, unless something different is explicitly
- The prescribed work for gaining a plenary indulgence attached to a church or oratory is a devout visit there, which includes the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed (Pater and Credo), unless otherwise stated in a specific
- Beside the exclusion of all attachment to sin, even venial sin, the requirements for gaining a plenary indulgence are the performance of the indulgenced work and fulfillment of three conditions: sacramental confession, eucharistic communion, and prayer for the pope’s intentions.
- Several plenary indulgences may be gained on the basis of a single sacramental confession; only one may be gained, however, on the basis of a single Eucharistic communion and prayer for the pope’s intentions.
- The three conditions may be carried out several days preceding or following performance of the prescribed work. But it is more fitting that the communion and the prayer for the pope’s intentions take place on the day the work is performed.
- If a person is not fully disposed or if the prescribed work and the three mentioned conditions are not fulfilled, the indulgence will only be partial; the prescriptions in N. 27 and N. 28 for those impeded are exceptions.
- The condition requiring prayer for the pope’s intentions is satisfied by reciting once the Our Father and Hail Mary for his intentions; nevertheless all the faithful have the option of reciting any other prayer suited to their own piety and
- An indulgence cannot be attached to a work to which a person is obliged by law or precept, unless expressly stated in the grant. Nevertheless a person who performs a work imposed as a penance in confession and which may also be indulgenced can at the one time both satisfy the sacramental penance and gain the indulgence.
- An indulgence annexed to any prayer may be gained no matter what the language of recitation, provided the accuracy of the translation is supported by a declaration either of the Apostolic Penitentiary or of one of the Ordinaries or Hierarchs in the region where the language of the translation is in general use.
- To gain indulgences it suffices to recite the prayer alternating with another person or to follow it mentally as another recites it.
- Confessors are empowered to commute either the prescribed work or the necessary conditions in favor of those for whom these are impossible because of some legitimate obstacle.
- Local Ordinaries or Hierarchs may also grant to the faithful subject to them, in keeping with canon law, and who reside in places where they cannot go to confession or communion at all or can do so only with great hardship that they may gain a plenary indulgence without actual confession and communion, provided they have inner contrition and the resolution to go to these sacraments as soon as
- The hearing-impaired and the speech-impaired can gain the indulgences attached to public prayers simply by raising their minds and devotion to God as they are present with others of the faithful praying in the same place. In the case of private prayers it is enough for them to go over them mentally and express them in some sign or even simply to read them without pronouncing the words.
1 Apostolic constitution Indulgentiarum doctrina, norm 1.
2 Ibid., norm 2.
3 Cf. 1983 Code of Canon Law, canon 994.
4 Apostolic constitution Indulgentiarum doctrina, norm 3.
5 Ibid., norm 5.
6 Ibid., norm 12.
7 Cf. canon 995.1, C.I.C.
8 Cf. Apostolic constitution Regimini Ecclesiae Universae, 15 August 1967, no. 113 (AAS, 59 : 923).
9 Cf. canon 995.2. C.I.C.
10 Cf. canon 826.3, C.I.C.
11 Apostolic constitution Indulgentiarum doctrina, norm 17.
12 Cf. Canon 996, C.I.C.
13 Apostolic constitution Indulgentiarum doctrina, norm 6; cf. also norm 18.
14 Ibid., norm 16.
15 Cf. Apostolic constitution Indulgentiarum doctrina, norms 7, 8, 9, 10.
16 Cf ibid., norm 11.