Plenary Indulgence removal of all temporal punishment?

I understand what this is but I still have a question. Is a plenary indulgence a complete removal of the temporal punishment for all your sins committed throughout your life or is it only a removal of the temporal punishment of the sins from your most recent confession?

It is the full remission of all temporal punishment owed to our sins up to the point we obtain it.

So if you’d been away from the Church for 20yrs (as an example), made a general confession, met all the requirments for obtaining a plenary indulgence, then all punishments due to all those sins up to that point in time has been remitted.

If you are a practicing Catholic who regularly goes to confession say every month for example, then all the temporal punishment you’ve incurred since the last time you obtained a plenary indulgence has been remitted (less of course any that was previously remitted through partial indulgences in the intervening time).


So If I get two partial indulgences does that count as one plenary indulgence?

No. A partial Indulgence only removes part of the temporal punishment. The church no longer quantifies exactly how much “part” refers to. So, you cannot assume that part means half.

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We don’t know the extent a partial indulgence is. Whether that be 1% or 99% remittance - we don’t know. The Church did away with allotting amounts to various prayers/deeds etc, for various reasons, but one was to prevent the cheapening of Our Lords suffering because people were trying to get as many as they could to avoid purgatory, or to continue sinning with the attitude that they could remove any punishment they accumulated as they went.

Ok so there’s no way of knowing how much of the temporal punishment has been removed?

Does the same apply then for the plenary indulgence or do we have full knowledge that it comes with 100% remittance of punishment?

Correct. Only God knows the answer to that.

Ultimately, God decides. It’s a matter of faith to believe that if you did as instructed your plenary was granted. The church has the power to define these things, but God is always in control.

Assuming we meet all the criteria for gaining a plenary indulgence, then we have gained the full remittance of the temporal punishment.

Abusers and Indulgences Authored By: Father Edward McNamara, LC


A primer on indulgences

Indulgences Are Expressions of God’s Mercy Authored By: Pope John Paul II

Catholic Answers - Primer on Indulgences


My understanding is one of the conditions is having the soul completely removed from attachment to any form of sin. A difficult one to meet.


That is true as it is one condition. But my understanding is it isn’t difficult - generally.
What Does Attachment to Sin Mean?

Plenary Indulgences Not Impossible

Free from all attachment to sin - the direct link to the page is broken - sorry. So you’ll have to scroll down to the article itself on the page. Wherein it says under point #3 " **yet so long as the attachment to the sin or the desire to commit it is absent from the person’s soul, he or she would be considered “free from attachment to sin.” yet so long as the attachment to the sin or the desire to commit it is absent from the person’s soul, he or she would be considered “free from attachment to sin.”" <- the desire to commit it has to be absent

So I have no desire to sin - even venially - though sadly I still do. But as I abhor all sin, and do my utmost to not sin, then I am free from all attachment to sin.

Easier said than done. For mortal sin, 100% with you. For venial sin, way way harder. However I like the concept of indulgences, it makes us try that much harder.

I don’t think so. As I understand it, having the desire to sin and actually sinning are two different things, as the second article I linked to explained - falling into venial sin is not the same as having an affection for sin. As I quote below from that article -

More recently, in the grant of an indulgence for the Year of the Eucharist, the Apostolic Penitentiary restated the conditions for gaining a plenary indulgence. However, when speaking of special conditions for those who are infirm, the official English translation reads:

[…] as long as they are totally free from any desire to relapse into sin, as has been stated above.

That whole article is worthwhile reading.

I don’t have any desire to relapse into sin - any sin including venial.

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