Just days before the March for Life festivities began, the Holy See has announced that participants at the March for Life can receive a plenary indulgence. The opportunity to receive an indulgence is open to all those who attend the events in person, as well as to those who can only attend virtually due to age, illness, or other extreme conditions.
Aleteia has previously explained the meaning and purpose of plenary indulgences in a two-part primer. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines an indulgence as “a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven” (CCC 1471). Indulgences can be obtained by faithful Catholics who carry out certain pious or charitable acts specified by the Holy Father. In this case, Pope Francis has deemed the March for Life a cause worthy of a plenary indulgence.
Bishop David M. O’Connell of the Diocese of Trenton outlined the steps needed to receive an indulgence in an announcement to his diocese. He noted that the Apostolic Penitentiary of the Holy See approved a plenary indulgence on January 17, 2023. Along with attendance at the event, either virtual or in person, the faithful must fulfill three other conditions, as well as approaching them with the intention of personal detachment from sin.
The first condition is that the faithful must seek reconciliation through the Sacrament of Confession. Secondly, they must receive the Holy Eucharist, and the third condition is for the faithful to pray for the intentions of the Holy Father. These conditions must be met within 20 days of receiving a plenary indulgence.
These criteria are extended a bit to accommodate those who can only attend the March for Life virtually. For example, instead of completing the three aforementioned steps in 20 days, the time frame is extended to “as soon as one is able.” Furthermore, those who are unable to attend due to illness or other severe conditions are encouraged to offer prayers and the sufferings of their own lives to the merciful God.
Bishop O’Connell noted that a “grave reason” might include the physical inability to leave home or travel; required personal, familial, or occupational responsibilities; observing COVID-19 precautions, etc.
Visit the March For Life official website to learn how to attend the events virtually.
Click here to read the decree from the Apostolic Penitentiary of the Holy See.