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Angelo wrote:

Hi, guys —

I have a question about gaining a Plenary Indulgence.

I have been chosen to be a Confirmation sponsor and learned that before the Confirmation,
the parish priest will be offering a general absolution. One of the requirements for gaining a plenary indulgence is "sacramental Confession/absolution."

  • I am not conscious of mortal sin, but just wondering, if I can receive the wonderful gift of a plenary indulgence along with the absolution?

Thank you very much!


  { As part of receiving a plenary indulgence, is a general absolution good enough? }

Mike replied:

Hi, Angelo —

In answering your question, for the benefit of others, let me state what the Catechism says on this issue:


1471 The doctrine and practice of indulgences in the Church are closely linked to the effects of the sacrament of Penance.

What is an indulgence?

"An indulgence 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 through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints."

"An indulgence is partial or plenary according as it removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin." The faithful can gain indulgences for themselves or apply them to the dead.

I'm concerned that your pastor has chosen to administer general absolution for Confirmation.
This is not appropriate under normal circumstances.

This is what the Catechism states on the issue:

1483 In case of grave necessity recourse may be had to a communal celebration of reconciliation with general confession and general absolution. Grave necessity of this sort can arise when there is imminent danger of death without sufficient time for the priest or priests to hear each penitent's confession. Grave necessity can also exist when, given the number of penitents, there are not enough confessors to hear individual confessions properly in a reasonable time, so that the penitents through no fault of their own would be deprived of sacramental grace or Holy Communion for a long time. In this case, for the absolution to be valid the faithful must have the intention of individually confessing their grave sins in the time required.

The diocesan bishop is the judge of whether or not the conditions required for general absolution exist. A large gathering of the faithful on the occasion of major feasts or pilgrimages does not constitute a case of grave necessity.

I would make sure your local bishop is aware of what your pastor is doing.

You said:
I am not conscious of mortal sin, but just wondering, if I can receive the wonderful gift of a plenary indulgence along with the absolution?

If you:

  • individually confess all your sins
    • including any known mortal sins and do the prescribed prayers or actions, that were attached to the indulgence when it was granted by the Church; usually a set of
      Our Fathers and Hail Mary's for the intentions of the Holy Father or something like that, then ...

Yes, you may receive this wonderful gift of a plenary indulgence that should be promoted more within each diocese ... but with care, so we don't repeat the mistakes that lead up to the Reformation.

Hope this answers your question.


Please report any and all typos or grammatical errors.
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The Early Church Fathers Church Fathers on the Primacy of Peter. The Early Church Fathers on the Catholic Church and the term Catholic. The Early Church Fathers on the importance of the Roman Catholic Church centered in Rome.