Plenary indulgences?


When did they come about and what is their purpose?



This should get you started.


Are they required? I didnt see that in the info.

Thanks BTW:thumbsup:


Only in the sense of a logical conclusion.

I think this sums it up nicely, from the previously linked article.

Once it is admitted that Christ left the Church

the power to forgive sins (see PENANCE), the power of granting indulgences is logically inferred. Since the sacramental forgiveness of sin extends both to the guilt and to the eternal punishment, it plainly follows that the Church can also free the penitent from the lesser or temporal penalty.

I do not think it is “necessary” that an individual receive or that the Church grants an indulgence.

It is just a nice thing to have done for you.



Here’s a little more info for you from CA’s libary

The last paragraph
"[In summary, the practice of indulgences neither takes away nor adds to the work of Christ. It is his work, through his body the Church, raising up children in his own likeness. “The Christian who seeks to purify himself of his sin and to become holy with the help of God’s grace is not alone. ‘The life of each of God’s children is joined in Christ and through Christ in a wonderful way to the life of all the other Christian brethren in the supernatural unity of the Mystical Body of Christ, as in a single mystical person’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1474 [Indulgentarium Doctrina 5])."

BTW Your welcome :thumbsup:


And here is another one from CA that provides a good explanation of indulgences.

A Primer on Indulgences

God bless!





No, they’re not required.

Being as they do exist, however, and they do serve a vital purpose of purifying the soul on earth to fit it for heaven, which otherwise must be done much more painfully and with much greater difficulty in Purgatory, any Catholic would be mad to not make fullest possible use of them.


Not required, no. They’re nice to have, though. My favourite is the one for reading the Bible. :slight_smile:


While the steps to obtaining a Plenary Indulgence are pretty simple, actually obtaining one is extremely difficult because not only does one have to be free of ALL sin but also free of all ATTACHMENT to sin – even venial sin. According to our Church Fathers ([/FONT]), out of 100,000 seeking a Plenary Indulgence, you will find barely ONE who is worthy.


That’s for plenary indulgences.

Also, someone was explaining to me that, if you are in a state of grace and free from attachment to sin at the time that you do the indulgenced activity, it’s kind of like a new baptism, even if you don’t remain sin-free forever afterwards. :slight_smile:

And of course you can always get partial indulgences simply by doing the activity itself, even without the prayer for the Pope, going to Confession, or receiving Holy Communion, as long as you’re in the state of grace at the time, so if you can’t get a plenary indulgence, you can still get as many partial indulgences as you want, if that’s your thing - all you have to do for that is wake up in the morning with the intention to collect whatever indulgences may come your way that day. :slight_smile:

And naturally, it sounds way more complicated than it is. Any ordinary Catholic going about his or her day is bound to collect any number of partial indulgences throughout the day, for praying, for reading the Scriptures, for instructing their children in Christian doctrine, for crossing themselves as they pass a Church, and so on - and as I’ve already mentioned, all they would need is the general intention to receive them. :slight_smile:


That is correct. A plenary indulgence wipes alway all punishment for sin and since the person already has to be sinless (and free from attachment to sin) to receive the plenary indulgence, it is like baptism in that sense.


Mine too. But I believe it’s partial, not plenary.


From the Catechism (CCC 1471-1479):


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.” [81]

“An indulgence is partial or plenary according as it removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin.” [82] The faithful can gain indulgences for themselves or apply them to the dead. [83]

The punishments of sin

1472 To understand this doctrine and practice of the Church, it is necessary to understand that sin has a double consequence. Grave sin deprives us of communion with God and therefore makes us incapable of eternal life, the privation of which is called the “eternal punishment” of sin. On the other hand every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory. This purification frees one from what is called the “temporal punishment” of sin. These two punishments must not be conceived of as a kind of vengeance inflicted by God from without, but as following from the very nature of sin. A conversion which proceeds from a fervent charity can attain the complete purification of the sinner in such a way that no punishment would remain. [84]

1473 The forgiveness of sin and restoration of communion with God entail the remission of the eternal punishment of sin, but temporal punishment of sin remains. While patiently bearing sufferings and trials of all kinds and, when the day comes, serenely facing death, the Christian must strive to accept this temporal punishment of sin as a grace. He should strive by works of mercy and charity, as well as by prayer and the various practices of penance, to put off completely the “old man” and to put on the “new man.” [85]

In the Communion of Saints

1474 The Christian who seeks to purify himself of his sin and to become holy with the help of God’s grace is not alone. “The life of each of God’s children is joined in Christ and through Christ in a wonderful way to the life of all the other Christian brethren in the supernatural unity of the Mystical Body of Christ, as in a single mystical person.” [86]

1475 In the communion of saints, “a perennial link of charity exists between the faithful who have already reached their heavenly home, those who are expiating their sins in purgatory and those who are still pilgrims on earth. between them there is, too, an abundant exchange of all good things.” [87] In this wonderful exchange, the holiness of one profits others, well beyond the harm that the sin of one could cause others. Thus recourse to the communion of saints lets the contrite sinner be more promptly and efficaciously purified of the punishments for sin.

1476 We also call these spiritual goods of the communion of saints the Church’s treasury, which is “not the sum total of the material goods which have accumulated during the course of the centuries. On the contrary the ‘treasury of the Church’ is the infinite value, which can never be exhausted, which Christ’s merits have before God. They were offered so that the whole of mankind could be set free from sin and attain communion with the Father. In Christ, the Redeemer himself, the satisfactions and merits of his Redemption exist and find their efficacy.” [88]

1477 “This treasury includes as well the prayers and good works of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They are truly immense, unfathomable, and even pristine in their value before God. In the treasury, too, are the prayers and good works of all the saints, all those who have followed in the footsteps of Christ the Lord and by his grace have made their lives holy and carried out the mission in the unity of the Mystical Body.” [89]

Obtaining indulgence from God through the Church

1478 An indulgence is obtained through the Church who, by virtue of the power of binding and loosing granted her by Christ Jesus, intervenes in favor of individual Christians and opens for them the treasury of the merits of Christ and the saints to obtain from the Father of mercies the remission of the temporal punishments due for their sins. Thus the Church does not want simply to come to the aid of these Christians, but also to spur them to works of devotion, penance, and charity. [90]

1479 Since the faithful departed now being purified are also members of the same communion of saints, one way we can help them is to obtain indulgences for them, so that the temporal punishments due for their sins may be remitted.

[81] Paul VI, apostolic constitution, Indulgentiarum doctrina, Norm 1.
[82] Indulgentiarum doctrina, Norm 2; Cf. Norm 3.
[83] CIC, can. 994. 84 Cf. Council of Trent (1551): DS 1712-1713; (1563): 1820.
[85] Eph 4:22, 24.
[86] Indulgentiarum doctrina, 5.
[87] Indulgentiarum doctrina, 5.
[88] Indulgentiarum doctrina, 5.
[89] Indulgentiarum doctrina, 5.
[90] Cf. Indulgentiarum doctrina, 5.


From the Code of Canon Law (can. 992-997):



Can. 992 An indulgence is the remission before God of temporal punishment for sins whose guilt is already forgiven, which a properly disposed member of the Christian faithful gains under certain and defined conditions by the assistance of the Church which as minister of redemption dispenses and applies authoritatively the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints.

Can. 993 An indulgence is partial or plenary insofar as it partially or totally frees from the temporal punishment due to sins.

Can. 994 Any member of the faithful can gain partial or plenary indulgences for oneself or apply them to the dead by way of suffrage.

Can. 995 §1. In addition to the supreme authority of the Church, only those to whom this power is acknowledged in the law or granted by the Roman Pontiff can bestow indulgences.

§2. No authority below the Roman Pontiff can entrust the power of granting indulgences to others unless the Apostolic See has given this expressly to the person.

Can. 996 §1. To be capable of gaining indulgences, a person must be baptized, not excommunicated, and in the state of grace at least at the end of the prescribed works.

§2. To gain indulgences, however, a capable subject must have at least the general intention of acquiring them and must fulfill the enjoined works in the established time and the proper method, according to the tenor of the grant.

Can. 997 As regards the granting and use of indulgences, the other prescripts contained in the special laws of the Church must also be observed.


For further reading:

[list]*]Pope Paul VI, Apostolic Constitution, Indulgentiarum Doctrina (Jan. 1, 1967)
*]The Handook of Indulgences: Norms and Grants[/list]


If you read scripture for half-an-hour or more it’s a plenary indulgence, as long as you fulfil the other conditions (recent confession, communion on the same day and prayer for the Pope’s intentions as well as the biggie - freedom from attachment to mortal or venial sin).

Likewise for half-an-hour or more of Adoration of the Eucharist (whether it is exposed for Adoration or reserved in the Tabernacle).

The other two ‘everyday’ plenary indulgences are for making the stations of the Cross in a church (for mine this is the shortest and easiest one) and praying five decades of the Rosary either in a church or in a group.


Thanks for the clarification. All of this comes in the seriously good news category!


:yup: :thumbsup: :crossrc: :getholy:


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