Pope declares plenary indulgence for December 8

Pope Benedict XVI has declared a plenary indulgence for Catholics who honour the Virgin Mary on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

CLICK HERECatholic World News reports that the Vatican made the announcement yesterday. It said that Pope Benedict has declared the indulgence to mark the 40th anniversary of the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council.

The announcement indicates that the Pope "when he renders public homage of praise to Mary Immaculate, has the heartfelt desire that the entire Church should join with him, so that all the faithful, united in the name of the common Mother, become ever stronger in the faith, adhere with greater devotion to Christ, and love their brothers with more fervent charity."

A plenary indulgence, as Pope Paul VI explained in Indulgentiarum Doctrina in 1967, is "a remission before god of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilty has already been forgiven." Indulgences can be decreed by the Pope or, under certain restrictions, bishops. The faithful can obtain indulgences for themselves or for the souls in Purgatory.

The indulgence declared by Pope Benedict may be obtained by those who "participate in a sacred function in honor of the Virgin, or at least least offer open testimony of Marian devotion before an image of Mary Immaculate exposed for public veneration, adding the recitation of the Our Father and of the Creed, and some invocation to the Virgin."

The announcement indicates that those who are ill or otherwise unable to fufill the normal conditions "may obtain a plenary indulgence in their own homes, or wherever they may be, if, with the soul completely removed from any form of sin, and with the intention of observing the aforesaid conditions as soon as possible, they unite themselves in spirit and in desire to the Supreme Pontiff's intentions in prayer to Mary Immaculate, and recite the Our Father and the Creed."

The decree issued yesterday by the Apostolic Penitentiary, announcing the indulgence, also lists the usual conditions: sacramental Confession, Eucharistic Communion, prayer for the intentions of the Pope, and the removal of attachment to sin. The decree is signed by Cardinal James Francis Stafford and Father Gianfranco Girotti, the penitentiary major and regent, respectively, of the Apostolic Penitentiary. The issue of indulgences, and some abuses of the Church's authority in that realm, became a topic of heated controversy during the Protestant Reformation. The Church's teaching was clarified by the Council of Trent in 1545 to avoid future abuses.

Pope declares plenary indulgence for December 8 (Catholic World News 29/11/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Apostolic Penitentiary: Decree on indulgences attached to devotions in honour of Divine Mercy

Pope grants plenary indulgences for Year of the Eucharist (CathNews 17/1/05)

Plenary indulgence for Solemnity Immaculate Conception (Vatican Information Service 29/11/05)
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Advent reminds Christians they must renew world, says pope (Catholic News Service 28/11/05)
Pope meets Sudanese Catholics, urges action to protect Darfur region (Catholic News Service 28/11/05)
Pope decrees Plenary Indulgence for Feast of Immaculate Conception (Catholic News Agency 29/11/05)
Pope Reiterates Desire to Help End Strife in Darfur (Zenit 28/11/05)
Benedict XVI Encourages Teaching of Latin (Zenit 28/11/05)
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30 Nov 2005