03/21/2020, 14.06
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Vatican: plenary indulgence and collective absolution for coronavirus patients

The Apostolic Penitentiary issues a decree for coronavirus patients, those in quarantine as well as healthcare workers and family members who expose themselves to the risk of contagion to help those affected by COVID-19.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Coronavirus patients around the world can receive plenary indulgence even if they cannot confess individually. Pope Francis yesterday mentioned the possibility of collective absolution, which is now contained in a decree issued by the Apostolic Penitentiary. The latter explains what the sick must do to have plenary indulgence, even on the point of death, in case they cannot receive the sacraments.

During this epidemic, "marked day after day by anguished fears, new uncertainties and above all, widespread physical and moral suffering", the Church offers the possibility of obtaining plenary indulgence to Coronavirus patients, healthcare workers, family members and all those who, in any capacity, even with prayer, take care of them.

To receive it, coronavirus patients, those in quarantine as well as healthcare workers and family members who expose themselves to the risk of contagion to assist those affected by Covid-19, can simply recite the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and an invocation to Mary.

The current situation also makes collective confession possible, the Penitentiary notes. “Individual confession is the ordinary way of celebrating this sacrament (cf. can. 960 CIC), while collective absolution, without prior individual confession, cannot be imparted except where there is an imminent danger of death, since there is not enough time to hear the confessions of individual penitents (cf. can. 961, § 1 CIC), or a grave necessity (cf. can. 961, § 1 CIC). 961, § 1, 2 CIC) [. . .] until the phenomenon recedes, the cases of serious need mentioned in can. 961, § 2 CIC above mentioned, will occur.”

In practice, “Where the individual faithful find themselves in the painful impossibility of receiving sacramental absolution, it should be remembered that perfect contrition, coming from the love of God, beloved above all things, expressed by a sincere request for forgiveness (that which the penitent is at present able to express) and accompanied by votum confessionis, that is, by the firm resolution to have recourse, as soon as possible, to sacramental confession, obtains forgiveness of sins, even mortal ones (cf. CCC, no. 1452).

The Penitentiary goes on to say: “Consideration should be given to the need and advisability of setting up, where necessary, in agreement with the health authorities, groups of ‘extraordinary hospital chaplains’, also on a voluntary basis and in compliance with the norms of protection from contagion, to guarantee the necessary spiritual assistance to the sick and dying.

Lastly, the decree grants “the faithful a Plenary Indulgence on the point of death, provided that they are duly disposed and have recited a few prayers during their lifetime (in this case the Church makes up for the three usual conditions required). For the attainment of this indulgence the use of the crucifix or the cross is recommended (cf. Enchiridion indulgentiarum, no.12).”

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