HUGE Fr. Z kudos to a reader who wrote to bishops about the important Apostolic Pardon

I have on occasion written about the important Apostolic Pardon or also Blessing, to be imparted to a person who is close to death.

The Apostolic Pardon imparts to a person who is properly disposed, please God through the last sacraments, a plenary indulgence (Enchiridion Indulgentiarum 28).  Hence, all temporal punishment due to sin is remitted to that person through the exercise of the “keys” by the Church and by the application of the merits of Christ and His saints to the person who is dying.

It is a magnificent gift from Christ and the Church which priests can wield.

A fellow wrote to me a little while ago saying that, after he had read about the Apostolic Pardon on this blog, he was able to make sure that his sister-in-law, a Carmelite nun, received said Pardon as she passed away.

Having pondered that experience, he took it upon himself to write a letter about the Apostolic Pardon to 177 archbishops and bishops in these USA.   He wrote, asking:

I ask that you, in collaboration with the USCCB, or on your own, if necessary, implement a plan to communicate and administer the Pardon in all of your parishes.  You should also insure that it is given proper instruction to all your seminarians.

Entirely reasonable and, frankly, EXACTLY the sort of thing that a bishops conference ought to be busy with.

Now I have received a note from the same fellow with excerpts of replies he has received back from bishops, including:

From an Archbishop – “Thank you for your letter regarding the Apostolic Pardon.  I know that several of our priests do offer this gift to those who are approaching death.  However, I will discuss it with priest leaders and review how we might better make this gift available to the people in our archdiocese.  With gratitude for your love for Jesus and His Church and concern that those approaching death receive all of the graces available to them, I remain…”.

From a Bishop – “Thank you very much for your letter of April, 2018, regarding the Apostolic Pardon.  I have already spoken about the Apostolic Pardon to our priests and, through your inspiration, I will explain it to the faithful of this diocese.  Thank you for taking the time to write your letter to the bishops.  It has made a difference to me.

“It has made a difference to me.”

Did you dear readers get that?

Friends, don’t be afraid to make yourselves and your concerns and your aspirations known to your pastors.   It could make a difference.   Be always kind and respectful, of course, as well as brief.

Immense Fr. K kudos and a Gold Star for the YEAR to this fellow who wrote to the bishops about the Apostolic Pardon.

Many priests don’t know about it.

Many priests who did know have let it slip from their radar.

This reminder was salutary.

Think about this.


You are on your death bed and you can feel it coming.  The priest came, who forgave your sins with the Sacrament of Penance and then Anointed you for final perseverance and readied you for your last breath.  You may have even received Viaticum.  As your lights fade, you see the priest’s hand raised in the sign of the Cross as he says (in the traditional version):

“By the Faculty which the Apostolic See has given me, I grant you a plenary indulgence and the remission of all your sins, and I bless you. In the Name of the Father and the Son + and the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

Ego facultate mihi ab Apostolica Sede tributa, indulgentiam plenariam et remissionem omnium peccatorum tibi concedo et benedico te. In nomine Patris, et Filii, + et Spirtus Sancti, Amen.”

Sins forgiven.  CHECK
Fortified with the Sacraments.  CHECK
Apostolic Pardon.  CHECK
All temporal punishment remitted.  CHECK

Straight to the Beatific Vision.

My Jesus, mercy and thank you.

From a sudden and unprovided death, spare us, O Lord.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Carrie says:

    Is this different from absolution offered in confession? And, is it part of the Sacrament of Anointing if the Sick?— for instance, when a person at end-of-life is unable to speak a confession? Or is this in addition? Thanks.

  2. Philmont237 says:

    Bishop Emeritus David Foley of Birmingham, Alabama passed away last night. The statement from the Diocese specifically mentioned that he received this pardon before he died.
    May he Rest In Peace.

  3. Carrie says: Is this different from absolution offered in confession?

    Quite different. Yes. They are, however, related. Absolution in confession remits the guilt of sins and restores the person to the state of grace. The Apostolic Pardon remits the temporal punishment due to the sins that were committed. When sins are forgiven, they are entirely cleansed from the soul. However, in justice we still have to make reparation for those sins, in this life or in the life to come before entering into the happiness of heaven. We must be detached from sins and we must have, in justice, done our penance. In mercy, however, we can intervene on behalf of those who have died. That’s what indulgences are about.

    And, is it part of the Sacrament of Anointing if the Sick?

    No, it is not. However, the Apostolic Blessing is often given after Anointing and Viaticum, that is, very close to death.

  4. Lorra says:

    I pray each and every day to St. Joseph to not die a sudden and unprovided death, and I ask St. Gerard Majella to obtain for me the great gift and grace of receiving the Last Rites and the Apostolic Pardon on my deathbed. I was born in the early fifties, and I only learned about the Apostolic Pardon a few years ago. I don’t understand why we were never told about it.

  5. msmsem says:

    At my seminary, deacons were required to know the formulae for the Anointing of the Sick, the Absolution, and the Apostolic Pardon prior to graduation. We’d have until a set date to memorize it; after that date, we could be stopped by any faculty member and tested – in the classroom, in the hallway, on the way to chapel… Thanks be to God, I have been able to impart the Apostolic Pardon many times in my admittedly short time as a priest. I pray that those who benefited from it are praying for me now from heaven.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  6. FatherEvansJulce says:

    Sadly, I had a conversation with a priest of 25+ years who asked “isn’t the apostolic pardon reserved to bishops?” So much unnecessary suffering…

  7. Joy65 says:

    Our Pastor has given the Apostolic Pardon quite a few times and speaks about this often especially at funerals. I pray that I will be able to receive the Apostolic Pardon before I am called home.

  8. New Sister says:

    I read about this apostolic blessing in the testimony given by Père Jean-Baptiste, Canon Regular at the Abbey Sainte-Marie de Lagrasse. It was he who gave anointing of the sick and this benediction to the heroic gendarme, Lcl Arnaud Baltrame, last month. Requiescat in pace.

    A google search led me to this article (in French) explaining the blessing, called “bénédiction apostolique in articulo mortis,” which is described as “a plenary indulgence that doesn’t take effect until the very moment of death” — a tremendous gift!! May this become universally known! The article contains different versions of the blessing (in French), the longer one especially beautiful.

  9. WmHesch says:

    There’s actually a positive injunction to teach the Faithful not only about the Apostolic Pardon, but also about the “plenary indulgence in articulo mortis”

    1999 Enchiridion No. 12, Sec. 5

    “De hac salutari Ecclesiae dispositione in catechesi tradenda fideles opportune et saepe certiores fiant.”

    In days gone by, the Apostolic Pardon was NOT available to everyone. Obtaining it was usually the fruit of a pilgrimage to Rome either: 1) thru obtaining a Papal Blessing parchment… Pre-1968 they were written as a petition with the formula of imparting the indulgence to the petitioner and his kindred to the second degree inclusive; or 2) thru a specially blessed “Pardon Crucifix” (not to be confused with the devotional article of same name)… Priests received in audience with the Pope would ask for a blessing of their crucifix to which the Holy Father would always attach the plenary indulgence in articulo mortis.

    This is why the current Enchiridion says use of a crucifix is praiseworthy but not necessary.

  10. The Astronomer says:


    Is there a place one can order those classic older-style plastic-covered ‘saint’ holy cards with the Apostolic Pardon on one side and a picture of Our Lord on the reverse? I’d like to be able to distribute to priests to carry in their wallets. Would be mighty handy for them to carry.

    If not, then I’ll look into contacting the card company via Leaflet Missal to see about getting some made up. I’ll be sure to send you a couple of hundred if I can do it.

    Our Lady’s blessings on you.

  11. Ellen says:

    My father and mother both received the Apostolic Pardon before their deaths. It was moving for all of us who were there.

  12. The Astronomer says: cards with the Apostolic Pardon

    I think one of the readers of this blog developed something just like that.

  13. Sandy says:

    The efforts of your reader who contacted all these bishops is indeed praiseworthy! God bless him! As someone above said, I too pray for St. Joseph each day to minister to each one in my family at the hour of death, asking him to bring a priest to give the Apostolic Pardon. My mother recently passed away and I asked one of the priests at her parish to pray this prayer for her. Why every priest is not taught about this, I don’t understand! God bless you, Father Z!

  14. twoadaydanny says:

    A friend’s mother, well into her 80’s and on her deathbed, was asked by her son if there was anything he could get for her. “Champagne” she managed to rasp out. Her son obliged and the woman enjoyed a few last sips of bubbly, hours before her death.

    I always thought that this was a cute story. On my deathbed though, I’d prefer the Spanish alternative, Cava. Confession, Anointing, Viaticum, Apostolic Pardon. I’ve made sure my family knows that if I’m near death, they can skip the Champagne and get me Cava instead. I hope the mnemonic helps them remember, if I’m ever so lucky that their remembering would make a difference.

  15. Joe in Canada says:

    Does the Church teach that if someone receives the Apostolic Pardon with the proper dispositions etc they go right to heaven? If so, why wouldn’t those people be automatically canonized? I always thought that Purgatory was for more than temporal punishment due to sin – it also had to do with the purification of the soul from all imperfections.

  16. David Collins says:

    Thank you! I never heard of this! Please God, may I receive this Apostolic Pardon. Wow!

  17. Pingback: HUGE Fr. Z kudos to a reader who wrote to bishops about the important Apostolic Pardon | Jean'sBistro2010's Blog

  18. OssaSola says:

    I am one of the people who created cards printed with the Apostolic Pardon printed in Latin and English. There is also a piece of Daniel Mitsui’s Four Last Things printed on them as well (with the artist’s kind permission).
    I can send some to astronomer if you’d care to email me at drvredeveld@threeowlsbookkeeping dot com

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