‘A Jubilee grace’: Vatican announces Holy Year Indulgence

Following the solemn indiction of the Jubilee 2025 by Pope Francis last week, the Apostolic Penitentiary has published a Decree that provides the details for the Indulgences that will be granted during the Holy Year.

May 14, 2024

Pilgrimage destination: Saint Peter's Basilica


By Christopher Wells
The Catholic faithful will have multiple ways to gain the Jubilee Indulgence for the 2025 Holy Year, according to a new decree promulgated by the Apostolic Penitentiary – the Vatican Office with overall responsibility for the granting and use of indulgences.

In the wake of the Second Vatican Council, Pope St Paul VI taught, “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.” Indulgences are plenary (full) or partial depending on whether they remove all or part of the temporal punishment due to sin. 

Becoming pilgrims of hope
Recalling Pope Francis’ invitation to all Christians to become “pilgrims” of hope, the Apostolic Penitentiary’s Decree is intended “to encourage the souls of the faithful and nourish the pious desire to obtain the [Jubilee] Indulgence seen as a gift of grace specific to the Holy Year.”

Hope, the Decree says, “is a virtue that must be sourced above all in the grace of God and in the fulness of His mercy.” Recalling the Pope’s declaration that the Jubilee Indulgence “is a way of discovering the unlimited nature of God’s mercy,” the Penitentiary says, “The [Holy Year] Indulgence, therefore, is a Jubilee grace.”

“The Indulgence, therefore, is a Jubilee grace.”

After confirming that all other indulgences remain in force, the Penitentiary establishes three main ways to gain the Jubilee Indulgence: Pilgrimages to any sacred Jubilee site; pious visits to sacred places, and works of mercy and penance.

Pilgrimages
The first category of Jubilee places includes the four Major Papal Basilicas in Rome (St Peter’s, St John Lateran, St Mary Major, and St Paul’s Outside the Walls); and the Holy Land Basilicas of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, the Nativity in Bethlehem, and the Annunciation in Nazareth; as well as Cathedrals and other churches or sacred places designated by Bishops in the particular Churches.

The Indulgence can be gained by “devoutly” participating in Holy Mass at the site, or by taking part in a Liturgy of the Word, the Liturgy of the Hours (Office of Readings, Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer), the Via Crucis, the Rosary, the Akathist Hymn, or a penitential service that includes individual confessions.

Visits to sacred places
The “sacred places” described in the second category include the Roman Basilicas of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, San Lorenzo al Verano, and San Sebastiano; as well as the Sanctuary of Divine Love (Divino Amore), the Church of St Paul in Tre Fontane, and the Catacombs. Special mention is made of the churches of the Jubilee Pathways linked to member countries of the European Union and to female Patron Saints and Doctors of the Church.

Other sacred places throughout the world include two Basilicas in Assisi, Marian sanctuaries in Italy, and “any minor basilica, cathedral church, co-cathedral church, Marian sanctuary, or any distinguished churches designated by local bishops.

The faithful are required to spend a “suitable” amount of time during their visit in Eucharistic adoration and meditation, concluding with the recitation of the Our Father, any legitimate form of the Creed, and invocations to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Those who cannot go on pilgrimage or make a visit to a sacred place for serious reasons will be able to gain the Indulgence wherever they are by uniting themselves spiritually with those who do so, and reciting the Our Father, the Creed, and other prayers connected with the Holy Year while offering up their sufferings or hardships.

Works of mercy and penance
Finally, the Decree provides for the ability to obtain the Indulgence by performing works of mercy and penance.

They can do so by taking part in popular missions, spiritual exercises, or formation activities on the documents of Vatican II and the Catechism, according to the mind of the Holy Father; or by visiting those in need (“in a sense, making a pilgrimage to Christ present in them”).

Similarly, they can offer acts of penance (such as fasting and abstinence), donate to the poor, support religious and charitable works (“especially in defence of life in all its phases”), or engage in other volunteer activities.

Duties of bishops and priests
The Apostolic Penitentiary also grants Bishops the possibility of imparting the Papal Blessing “on the occasion of the main Jubilee celebration in the cathedral and in individual Jubilee Churches, with the Indulgence for all those who receive the Blessing, with the usual conditions.

The Decree strongly urges “all priests” to be generous in offering occasions for sacramental Reconciliation, notably recalling the possibility of hearing Confessions while Mass is being celebrated. Priests accompanying pilgrimage groups outside of their diocese are granted faculties to make use of the same faculties granted them in their own dioceses, while confessors in Papal Basilicas and elsewhere will be granted special faculties as well.

Priests are invited to give penances that will be conducive to “stable repentance,” and to encourage penitents “to repair any scandal and damages” they have caused by their sins.

Concluding the Decree, the Apostolic Penitentiary, reminding bishops of their office of teaching, guiding, and sanctifying, “warmly” invites them “to explain clearly the provisions and principles proposed here for the sanctification of the faithful, taking account of local circumstances, cultures and traditions.”--Vatican News

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