Plenary Indulgence for a Baptized Candidate?

Is it possible to be baptized/unconfirmed and receive a plenary indulgence?

No, there are specific conditions to recieve a plenary indulgence.
A plenary indulgence can be gained only once a day. In order to obtain it, the faithful must, in addition to being in the state of grace:

—have the interior disposition of complete detachment from sin, even venial sin;

—have sacramentally confessed their sins;

—receive the Holy Eucharist (it is certainly better to receive it while participating in Holy Mass, but for the indulgence only Holy Communion is required);

—pray for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff.

A candidate can not recieve confession or the Eucharist.

Taken from the following website and a lot more information is given.

Confirmation is not listed among the “general conditions” for an indulgence.

You are referring to someone who is entering the Church from another Christian faith tradition, correct? Some of the usual conditions may be impossible for one who is not presently in full communion with the Church. However, God can still make a way for the grace.

From EWTN’s description:

  1. For the sake of those legitimately impeded, confessors can commute both the work prescribed and the conditions required (except, obviously, detachment from even venial sin)

So the only “non-negotiable” seems to be detachment from sin. The candidate should discuss his options with his priest.


Just to clarify, I understand your dilemma as follows:
*]A Catholic may receive a plenary indulgence at any time (pursuant to completion of the various requirements) and thus avoid purgatory, should he die.
*]An unbaptized person, upon being baptized, is completely free of all sin and punishment, avoiding purgatory.
*]A baptized non-Catholic who has since committed sin cannot repeat baptism and cannot fulfill the general requirements for obtaining an indulgence. Therefore, he seems unable to avoid purgatory.

What, then, can the baptized non-Catholic do?


Second, realize that they are in a better position than the unbaptized person.

The comparison is not a fair one, since both an unbaptized person (theoretically) old enough to receive Holy Communion, and a baptized Candidate (theoretically) old enough to receive Holy Communion are going to be received into the Church at the same Easter Vigil, and thus they will both be eligible to receive a plenary indulgence at the same time.

Pray…do penance…seek to follow Christ. etc…

An indulgence is only ONE way in this regards…

Per CCC 1310, it sounds like there is a point before Confirmation where there is Confession? Is there no official guidance on when that point should be?

And as the other person stated, could these rules apply: (from: )

*#34 Confessors can commute either the prescribed work or conditions, in favor of those who, because of a legitimate impediment, cannot perform the work or fulfill the conditions.

#35 Local Ordinaries or Hierarchs, moreover, can grant to the faithful, over whom they exercise legitimate authority and who live in places where it is impossible or at least very difficult to go to confession or Communion, permission to gain a plenary indulgence without confession and Communion, provided they have true contrition for their sins and have the intention of receiving these Sacraments as soon as possible.*

My reading is that the priest might be able to do a dispensation granting me conditions that allow me to obtain a plenary indulgence, and I absolutely have the ability to gain a partial one.

Some of my background if it matters:

Former radical Calvinist well catechized in the sense that way before I felt the call to convert to the RCC, my CCC was dog-eared from trying to argue against it (I was the James White debate type).

All of my best friends are hardcore Catholics…my wife, and 3 other married couples. On a whim I started reading Warren Carrol’s History of Christendom series and saying the Chaplette of Divine Mercy, and the next thing I know I’m in the confessional with Father Tim confessing a long list of sins (though he didn’t grant absolution, because “You’re not a Catholic” which really confused me because I was confessing the sins of heresy, schism, etc.).

I’m trying to get a plenary indulgence for my father who was a devout Presbyterian, who nevertheless committed suicide last month.

And since we are getting into my background, my first day of RCIA I was given a “catechsim” called Christ Among Us by [former] priest Anthony Wilhelm. Reading through it, many times I was like–uhhh…that’s NOT the RCC position. Then I found this:

The Paulist Press is also responsible for issuing Christ Among Us, a catechism by Anthony Wilhelm, a former priest. Since it was first printed in 1967, more than 1.6 million copies have been sold—166,000 of them last year—and for many of the nation’s 52 million Catholics, the catechism had become an indispensable guide to applying church teachings to contemporary problems. Two months ago, however, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith concluded that Christ Among Us “was unsuitable as a catechetical text” and could not be made otherwise even with “substantial revisions.” The Congregation’s head, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, formally requested Archbishop Peter Gerety of Newark to remove his imprimatur. Without it, the book cannot be used in Catholic catechism classes… link:,9171,954311,00.html

It’s been an interesting ride…

A validly baptized non-Catholic would go to confession somewhere prior to formal reception into the Church (and also thus Confirmation which ordinarily happens when received)

As to indulgences…they are for the “faithful” (to gain) that is for Catholics per se…(not that non-catholics are per se not “faithful” to what they understand) I do not thnk one who is not yet in full communion with the Church can obtain indulgences…though it does not hurt for you in your situation to do the indulgenced works of piety…

But really…one need not wait for indulgences…one can pray and do penance…indulgences are a great gift…but not the only means of removing temporal effects of sins that have been forgiven (in your case it is possible to be forgiven via an act of perfect contrition).

I am very sorry to hear about your Father.

In addition to your prayers for him…and those of others (including praying for him to have whatever grace he needed in the last moments…for God is outside time) you can ask your wife to seek to obtain a plenary indulgence for him…

Know too that the Church notes:

“Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.”

Let us ask all who read this post to say a prayer for him right now.

(Which of course is not saying to anyone out there thinking about it that it ok etc…if anyone reads this and is considering such…please do not…and seek help right away)

And my father had some sort of serious mental or neurological illness days before his suicide, with delusions and so on. I know that doesn’t carry quite the same moral burden as despair.

But thank you all for the prayers.

Well, now I’m more confused. My priest emailed me back saying:

“…only Catholics can receive indulgences…”

He was quoting the EWTN website, which says:

  • "To gain indulgences, whether plenary or partial, it is necessary that the faithful be in the state of grace at least at the time the indulgenced work is completed. **

So now I’ve confessed the sin of heresy and schism, which didn’t have sacramental absolution because “You’re not Catholic.” And now I can’t help my father because “You’re not Catholic.”

I feel like I’m at my wit’s end for absolution, confirmation, and the Eucharist that I so urgently desire.

*CCC 1464 Priests must encourage the faithful to come to the sacrament of Penance and must make themselves available to celebrate this sacrament each time Christians reasonably ask for it. *

Can you imagine being in mortal sin, your conscience convicting you to the point of panic, and you ask your priest in August for absolution, and he tells you to come back right before Easter?

This is what RCIA has, in practice, meant for me. Worse in fact. Because now that panic isn’t over MY eternal destination, but MY FATHER’S temporal one.

And I’m sickened by it.

Is there not a saint that has the Vicar’s ear that CAN FIX THIS MESS???*

You can help your father! Have a mass said for him, or more than one. It is called a mass intention. This is a powerful thing you can do. They will say a mass for a non-Catholic who has died. You are not stuck with nothing here. :console:

I also suggest penance and prayer.

You need not overly fear for your eternal destination at this time. Your Father in heaven loves you, and knows that you do not control your access to confession. Simply pray for the grace of perfect contrition, planing to confess when you are allowed. Trust your Father to watch over you! He hasn’t left you in a loophole of some kind of impossible to escape damnation. Truly! Those with perfect contrition are in a state of grace! :slight_smile:

It is my understanding that a baptized candidate may receive Reconciliation at their pastor’s prudential judgement. I don’t know whether you just surprised Father Tim in the confessional, or scheduled a meeting with him. It seems odd that he would let you confess all your sins and then tell you he couldn’t absolve you. You being in RCIA could certainly be evidence that you want to be reconciled to God and His Church, and therefore no longer in schism, and evidence that you are no longer obstinate in your former beliefs, and therefore no longer in heresy. It strikes me as odd that EWTN would say that one must be Catholic to even gain a partial indulgence, as a logical extension of that is…others’ prayers…just don’t work…
God bless you brother, and we look forward to welcoming you home.

I will do my best to obtain one for your father, today, since I am going to mass this evening. My prayers are for him today.

Bess you, and rest assured your father and your entire family are in my prayers.

Of course God hears prayers from anywhere. :slight_smile: Indulgences, though, are where the Church opens the treasury of merits. It is an intervention of the Church. So, it makes sense that it applies to those over whom the Church has charge and are in communion.

If a non-Catholic were to say an indulgenced prayer, they would still get benefit, but they would be lacking the extra benefit added on by the Church. Indulgenced prayers are of benefit in themselves, or the Church would not bother to encourage them. :thumbsup:

For capablanca911’s father:

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace.

Thank you all so much. This lifts a great burden.

Since this seems relevant to the discussion, does anyone know of any official guidance on when it is appropriate to say you are “Catholic?”

In the Eastern Rite, is a baptized and confirmed infant to be called “Catholic?”
In the LR, is a baptized *but unconfirmed *infant to be called “Catholic?”
Is there any stage where an adult catechuman can call himself “Catholic?” Or is he Catholic at the moment of being promoted out of the catechumanate?
Same question for candidates?
Would it be at the moment of absolution for being in schism?

I saw another thread on this, and it was filled with many good insights and little official guidance.

And since purgatory is a brand new belief for me, I’ll ask a question about it to you guys: must the resurrection take place after everyone is purified out of purgatory?

Full initiation is done as an infant. They are Catholic. I’m not sure about eastern canon law, but in western canon law, they are still a minor, though.

In the LR, is a baptized *but unconfirmed *infant to be called “Catholic?”

Only if they were baptized in the Catholic Church. Note that they are not considered to have received all of the sacraments of initiation. There is some statistic out there about how many adult Catholics are walking around that never got confirmed, but I don’t recall the number. It is large. We get a few Catholic folks in RCIA every year who need only to make their confirmation, and still need some catechesis.

Is there any stage where an adult catechuman can call himself “Catholic?” Or is he Catholic at the moment of being promoted out of the catechumanate?

I think you must be asking about when the Church considers you Catholic. They become Catholic when baptized (in the Catholic Church). However, they have a connection to the Church prior to that. They receive a Catholic funeral if they die first. Since you mentioned something official, here is canon law for that: 1183 §1. When it concerns funerals, catechumens must be counted among the Christian faithful.

Same question for candidates?
Would it be at the moment of absolution for being in schism?

No, not that I know of. It is when they make a profession of faith and are formally received into the Church. They say : I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God. Oh. Maybe they just say “I do” to that as a question. Yes, I think that is it.

Note that someone who is baptized in a Protestant denomination as a child and raised in that faith is not charged with the sin of schism. Here is the CCC818 "However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers . . . . All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church."272

And since purgatory is a brand new belief for me, I’ll ask a question about it to you guys: must the resurrection take place after everyone is purified out of purgatory?

Purgatory will be over for anyone still there by the time of Final Judgment. Purgatory doesn’t continue beyond this. People are resurrected then and judged and then go to one of two places.

Merrry Christmas!

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