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A modern dictionary of Catholic terms, both common and obscure. Find accurate definitions of words and phrases.

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PLENARY INDULGENCE

An indulgence that can remove all the temporal punishment due to forgiven sin. No one but God knows for certain when a plenary indulgences is actually gained, because only he knows whether a person's dispositions are adequate. One norm for such dispositions is that "all attachment to sin, even venial sin, be absent." If these dispositions are in any way less than complete, the indulgence will only be partial. The same provision applies to the three external conditions necessary to gain a plenary indulgence: sacramental confession, Eucharistic Communion, and prayer for the intentions of the Pope. If these conditions are not satisfied, an otherwise plenary indulgence becomes only partial. These conditions may be satisfied several days before or after the performance of the prescribed work, though preferably Communion should be received and the prayers offered for the Pope on the same day as the indulgenced work. A plenary indulgence can be gained only once a day.

All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

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