Blog Post

Plenary Indulgence Granted for Participation in March for Life Activities

Aside from being an exciting, fun, and powerful way to witness to the dignity of human life, those who participate in the National Prayer Vigil for Life and other sacred celebrations surrounding the March for Life in Washington DC tomorrow will also have the opportunity to gain a plenary indulgence.

“The Apostolic Penitentiary of the Holy See has granted a plenary indulgence that may be obtained, under the usual conditions, by those who participate in the sacred celebrations carried out on January 17 and 18,” Bishop Michael Burbidge of the Diocese of Arlington said in a statement on the March for Life.

“The elderly, sick and homebound may also gain a plenary indulgence if they spiritually unite themselves to these events and make their prayer and penance an offering to God.”

This document from the EWTN library defines an indulgence as “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 . . .”

These prescribed conditions to gain either a plenary or partial indulgence require that the faithful “be in the state of grace at least at the time the indulgenced work is completed. [i.e. one must be a Catholic, not excommunicated or in schism.]”

They must also have the interior disposition of complete detachment from sin, even venial sins; have sacramentally confessed their sins, received the Eucharist, and prayed for the intentions of the Holy Father.

“It is appropriate, but not necessary, that the sacramental Confession and especially Holy Communion and the prayer for the Pope's intentions take place on the same day that the indulgenced work is performed; but it is sufficient that these sacred rites and prayers be carried out within several days (about 20) before or after the indulgenced act.

Prayer for the Pope's intentions is left to the choice of the faithful, but an "Our Father" and a "Hail Mary" are suggested. One sacramental Confession suffices for several plenary indulgences, but a separate Holy Communion and a separate prayer for the Holy Father's intentions are required for each plenary indulgence.

A plenary indulgence can only be gained once a day and can be applied either to oneself or the souls of the deceased.

This indulgence makes the March for Life not only about earthly lives, but eternal lives as well!

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