Pope Benedict XVI has declared a plenary indulgence for Catholics who honor the Virgin Mary on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception
In a November 29 announcement, the Vatican 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 guilt 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 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 fulfill 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.”
To gain the indulgence, the usual conditions of sacramental Confession, Eucharistic Communion, prayer for the intentions of the Pope, and the removal of attachment to sin are necessary. (Thanks to Catholic Information Center, Washington, D.C.)