Catholic World News News Feature

Plenary indulgence offered for Pauline-year pilgrimages May 12, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI has declared a plenary indulgence for Catholics who make a pilgrimage to the Roman basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls during the special Pauline year that begins June 28.

During the year commemorating the 2000th anniversary of the birth of St. Paul, the plenary indulgence will also be available to those who, under the usual conditions, participate in a liturgical ceremony honoring St. Paul on the opening or closing day of the Pauline year, or on other days declared for that purpose by the local bishop. Catholics who are confined to their homes may still obtain the indulgence if the "spiritually unite themselves to a Jubilee celebration in honor of St. Paul, offering their prayers and suffering to God for the unity of Christians."

The "usual conditions" for obtaining a plenary indulgence are sacramental Confession, removal from all attachment to sin, reception of Holy Communion and prayer for the intentions of the Holy Father.

Last June 28, Pope Benedict declared a year dedicated to St. Paul, beginning on June 28, 2008 the eve of the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, and continuing through June 29, 2009. The Holy Father said that the year, marking the 2000th anniversary of the saint's birth, should be used to heighten appreciation for the Apostle to the Gentiles and to his project of promoting the Christian faith and the unity of believers

On May 10, the Apostolic Pentitentiary relased the news of the plenary indulgence that the Pope has declared. The document was signed by Cardinal James Stafford and Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, the penitentiary major and regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary, respectively.

The Vatican document notes:

All Christian faithful-- truly repentant, duly purified by the Sacrament of Penance and restored with Holy Communion-- who undertake a pious visit in the form of a pilgrimage to the papal basilica of St. Paul on Rome's Via Ostiense and pray in accordance with the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff, are granted and imparted Plenary Indulgence for the temporal punishment of their sins, once they have obtained sacramental remission and forgiveness for their shortcomings….

In order that the prayers pronounced on these holy visits may lead and draw the souls of the faithful to a more intense veneration of the memory of St. Paul, the following conditions are laid down: the faithful, apart from pronouncing their own prayers before the altar of the Blessed Sacrament, ... must go to the altar of the Confession and pray the 'Our Father' and the 'Creed', adding pious invocations in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Paul; and such acts of devotion must remain closely linked to the memory of the Prince of the Apostles St. Peter.

Christian faithful from the various local churches, under the usual conditions (sacramental Confession, Eucharistic communion, prayer in keeping with the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff) and completely unattached to any form of sin, may still obtain the Plenary Indulgence if they participate devotedly in a religious function or in a pious exercise held publicly in honor of the Apostle of the Gentiles: on the days of the solemn opening and closing of the Pauline Year in any place of worship; on other days determined by the local ordinary, in holy places named for St. Paul and, for the good of the faithful, in other places designated by the ordinary.