Pope Francis announces jubilee indulgences

The extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy begins on Dec 8, and in a Sept. 1 letter to Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, Pope Francis said it was his “wish that the jubilee be a living experience of the closeness of the Father, whose tenderness is almost tangible, so that the faith of every believer may be strengthened and thus testimony to it be ever more effective.”

As with other jubilee years, the Holy Father has instructed that special indulgences be available for the faithful through the duration of the year. Here’s how to get one.

For able-bodied Catholics:

◗ Take a pilgrimage. Make a journey to your local Holy Door (a physical portal in your local cathedral, shrine or other designated Church) or to one of the Holy Doors in the four papal basilicas in Rome. Crossing through a Holy Door is a spiritual journey that signals, as the Holy Father said, “the deep desire for true conversion.”

◗ Go to confession.

◗ Receive the Holy Eucharist “with a reflection of mercy.”

◗ Make a profession of faith.

◗ Pray for the pope and for his intentions.

For the elderly, confined and the ill:

◗ Pope Francis said that they may obtain the indulgence by “living with faith and joyful hope this moment of trial,”

◗ Receiving the Eucharist,

◗ Or by attending Mass and community prayer, “even through the various means of communication.”

For those in prison:

◗ The incarcerated may obtain the indulgence in their prison chapels.

Said Pope Francis: “May the gesture of directing their thought and prayer to the Father each time they cross the threshold of their cell signify for them their passage through the Holy Door, because the mercy of God is able to transform hearts, and is also able to transform bars into an experience of freedom.”

For the deceased:

◗ Through the prayers of the faithful, indulgences may be obtained for the dead.

For all Catholics:

◗ Perform a spiritual or corporal work of mercy. Pope Francis said that an indulgence may be obtained when a member of the “faithful personally performs” one of these merciful acts.

“The experience of mercy, indeed, becomes visible in the witness of concrete signs as Jesus himself taught us,” he said.

Other acts

Pope Francis also decided to “concede to all priests” for the Year of Mercy, the “discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it.”

He also announced that the faithful who go to confession with priests from the fraternity of St. Pius X, which broke from the Church in 1988, “shall validly and licitly receive the absolution of their sins.”

Some canonical questions remain regarding these points, which experts hope the Vatican will soon address. But both decisions indicate Pope Francis’ strong pastoral desire to usher in greater opportunities for mercy in the upcoming year.

What is an Indulgence?
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (No. 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. An indulgence is partial or plenary according as it removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin.” Indulgences may be applied to the living or the dead.