The Apostolic Penitentiary makes public a decree extending the period of indulgence for people who cannot leave home and in order to prevent large gatherings in places where they are banned. The guidelines are also for those who are in isolation or sick. Priests are asked to be more available under the circumstances.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The Apostolic Penitentiary announced that the Plenary Indulgence for the deceased, usually obtained on 1-8 November, will be extended to the whole month of November. Pope Francis mandated the changes, and the decree was made public today.
The document “establishes and decides that this year, in order to avoid gatherings where they are prohibited:
a) the plenary indulgence for those who visit a cemetery and pray for the deceased even if only mentally, which is normally set only on individual days from 1 to 'November 8, can be moved to other days of the same month until its end. These days, freely chosen by the individual believer can also be separated from each other;
b) the plenary indulgence of 2 November, set for the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed by those who piously visit a church or an oratory and recite Our Father and the Creed therein, can be moved not only to the previous or following Sunday or to the day of the Solemnity of All Saints, but can also be moved to another day in November, as freely chosen by the individual believer.”
Speaking to Vatican News, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, Major Penitentiary said that “The decision was made in consideration of the rules issued by the civil authorities in various countries to limit the size of gatherings at this stage of the pandemic.
“Many presidents of Bishops' Conferences asked us to do something to help countries where this devotion is very strong, perhaps even the one with the highest number of confessions and communions in the year. So what can be done when we cannot go out or if going out is severely restricted?
Given this situation, and “bearing in mind that in many places the Commemoration of the Dead is strongly felt and is expressed above all in the Holy Mass and in visits to cemeteries, it was decided to give more time for the indulgence. Thus, for the whole of November, it will be possible to do what was set for the first eight days of November.”
“Those who cannot go out, because they are in isolation or sick, will be able to obtain the indulgence by praying in front of an image of our Lord or of the Blessed Virgin; reciting, for example, Lauds, Vespers of the Office of deceased, the Rosary, the Chaplet of Mercy; saying the prayers that respect each tradition; mediating on the Gospel readings of one of the three Masses planned for the faithful departed and, finally, offering works of mercy.”
Lastly, the cardinal noted that priests will be required to be more available.
"Given the fact that priests can celebrate three Holy Masses on 2 November, since the 1915 Constitution of Benedict XV, we urge them to celebrate all three to the extent possible, also because more Masses will entail smaller gatherings and this can help the faithful.
“Priests are also urged to be generous in the Ministry of Confessions and in bringing the Holy Communion to the sick, so as to have more time to pray for their deceased, to feel them close, in short, to meet all the noble sentiments that go with the Communion of Saints.”