This may well be a first.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, and Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, have issued a joint letter announcing that a plenary indulgence can be obtained by the faithful who “take part in the sacred celebrations, along with the great assembly of people, throughout the whole course of the annual event that is called ‘March for Life.’ “ The letter is dated Dec. 20 and addressed to Cardinal Wuerl’s and Bishop Burbidge’s “brother bishops” across the nation. “We bring this to your attention in the hope that you will share this information with those entrusted to your pastoral care, and who may be traveling to Washington, D.C. to participate in March for Life activities this January,” the churchmen wrote in their letter. The 45th annual March for Life is Jan. 18, 2018. A plenary indulgence, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (No. 1471) is “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.” To gain a plenary indulgence, one must go to Confession, receive Holy Communion and pray for the intentions of the pope. Cardinal Wuerl and Bishop Burbidge noted in their letter that ““the aged, sick and all those who due to grave reason are not able to leave home” to attend the March for Life can receive the plenary indulgence. They must meet the conditions – Confession, Communion and prayers for the pope – as well as “having offered prayers and their sufferings or the ailments of their own life to the merciful God.”