ASK FATHER: Year of Mercy indulgence when no chance of confession

From a reader…

I’m a shut-in in a rural area. EMs bring me Communion on Fridays. Confess once a year (prev. yrs ago @ 2 wks). Really no way to confess @ 3 wks for Plenary Indulgences (Priest has 3 parishes). Any exceptions to that rule? Thanks

Okay…. I think I understood that.   Dear readers… there is no reason to write to me in Code.  Even as I get older, I still have the time and energy to read sentences, etc.

Now… to work.

First, you should send a note back to the priest through the agency of the Extraordinary Minister of Communion, asking him to come to hear your confession, especially because the Year of Mercy is soon coming to a close.

If that doesn’t bear immediate fruit, there is another option.

The parameters for obtaining an indulgence are set by the Supreme Legislator (aka the Pope, for those of you in Columbia Heights). Indulgences are the purview of the Apostolic Penitentiary (that’s a person, not a big prison for apostles).   The Apostolic Penitentiary is the highest tribunal in the Church that deals with matters of the internal forum (e.g., confession) and indulgences.  Any dispensation or derogation of the norms attendant to indulgences would come from the Apostolic Penitentiary. You could write to the Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary and ask for a dispensation.

His Eminence
Mauro Card. Piacenza
Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary
Palazzo della Cancelleria

You might then send a copy of your letter to your parish priest, just so that he knows of your earnest desire.

And your desire to obtain an indulgence is both understandable and praiseworthy.  But keep this also in mind.  While indulgences are useful aids, and we should all strive to gain them whenever possible, they are – fortunately – not necessary for salvation.

The fact that you are (at the moment – we hope the parish priest will work with you) unable to meet the conditions required for the grant of an indulgence does not in any way mean that your prayers are inefficacious, or that your desire to obtain an indulgence will not be rewarded by Our Lord with a merciful shower of grace.

Continue in your diligent prayer, especially for more vocations to the priesthood so that others won’t need to face the deprivation you currently deal with.

Offer up your inability to earn a plenary indulgence in the ordinary way.  That in itself will surely be a sacrifice pleasing to Our Lord.  His graciousness is unbounded.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Bosco says:

    I too live in the back of beyond as does (apparently) your questioner, Father. I have no recollection that a plenary indulgence was specifically attached by Francis to any activity proposed for the Year of Mercy. Has the Apostolic Penetentiary or the Supreme Legislator written or said anything assuring the possibility of obtaining such a plenary indulgence?

  2. IHSV says:

    I had actually forgotten this was going on. What’s next, the year of Judgement? Ha Ha… Sorry its late here… I’m sure that joke has been done by another.

    All that said, interesting question. One that may apply to more of us as time becomes greater than space… Or should that be space becomes greater than time (?) and the few priests left after the Great Shrinkage have to travel long distances.

    Actually, I’ve always wondered about the licit and valid use of technology as it advances. Perhaps another “ask father”

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