Special Indulgences Granted by The Holy See
by Father James Clark, J.C.L.

The Apostolic Penitentiary, which is the office of the Holy See entrusted with granting indulgences, issued a decree on March 19, 2020. The decree grants special indulgences for the faithful during the current COVID-19 epidemic.

Indulgence for the Sick
A plenary indulgence is granted to all the faithful affected by the Coronavirus and subjected to quarantine by order of the health authority in hospitals or in their own homes. The plenary indulgence is obtained by one of the following acts:

  • spiritually joining in the celebration of Holy Mass by means of television, radio, or some other medium; or
  • praying the Stations of the Cross or some other devotion; or
  • devoutly reciting the Creed, the Our Father, and a pious prayer to Mary, e.g. the Hail Mary or the Hail, Holy Queen, or some other Marian prayer.

These pious acts must be done in a spirit of faith in God and charity toward our brothers and sisters. The person who wishes to obtain this plenary indulgence must be free from all attachment to sin and intend to fulfill the usual conditions for obtaining a plenary indulgence if and when they are able. The usual conditions are:

  • go to confession
  • receive holy communion
  • pray for the intentions of the Pope (e.g., an Our Father and a Hail Mary)

Indulgence for Those Who Care for the Sick
Under the same conditions, a plenary indulgence is granted to all health care workers, family members, and others who assist Coronavirus patients.

Indulgence for All the Faithful
Under the usual conditions stated above, a plenary indulgence is granted also to those Catholics who implore Almighty God to stop the epidemic, relieve those afflicted, and grant eternal salvation to those who have died, by means of:

  • making a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, or
  • prayerfully reading the Bible for at least a half an hour, or
  • praying the Stations of the Cross, or
  • reciting the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

For the text of the decree in English, see here.
For more information on the doctrine of indulgences, see here.

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