Question about Indulgences

I have a question about indulgences. I understand that they do not forgive sin or anything like that. They grant pardon for penance or time due in Purgatory. I want to know how the Pope is able to attach an indulgence to something like hearing the Urbi et Obri or passing through the Holy Doors during a Jubilee. How does the Holy Father attach an indulgence to that?
A confused Catholic

It flows from the Church’s authority that “whatsoever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatsoever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven.”

The Church decides that certain actions, when done with specific intentions, merit graces and the remission of temporal punishment for sin. I can’t help you with the specifics of how it is decided on declaring a specific indulgence, but if you look at many indulgences, you will see a pattern of actions/prayers that help to conform you to God’s will.

From what I understand, an indulgence can technically be granted for any reason that isn’t sinful (if a bishop tried to grant you one, for example, for stealing from your neighbor, it would be invalid). St. Paul granted an indulgence to the penitent incestuous man of Corinth when he demonstrated sufficient repentance and love of God and neighbor. As such, the Church usually grants them to encourage and reward turning from sin through acts of devotion, piety, and charity. The indulgence related to the Holy Doors, for example, encourages pilgrimages to those sites.

I don’t think there is a specific formula needed to attach an indulgence to particular act, the bishop or Pope just needs to make his will in the matter known. This is usually done by promulgating a written decree of some sort, but it could also be granted even orally. For the Urbi et Orbi, the indulgence is announced orally just before the blessing and is also contained in the very words of the blessing the Pope makes. It is now also contained in a standing written decree, but I don’t think it would have to be to be valid.

Welcome Home and welcome to the forums!

The issuance of Indulgences stems from the question of suffering and how our suffering can be joined to Christ’s, and then how that benefits the Church, the Body of Christ.

Key scriptural texts are:
1 Cor 12:12-26. Pay special attention to vs. 26

Colossians 1:24. This verse is the most confusing and difficult verse to interpret in the New Testament. It is describing, fundamentally, what indulgences are.

2 Cor 1:3-7. This also describes the effect of suffering for the benefit of the Church.

The way Indulgences have been granted has developed in the history of the Church. The present system stems from the Middle Ages.

Here’s a list of Indulgences…


catholic111, are you asking by what authority the pope grants indulgences, or by what procedure?

I don’t know much about the inner workings of the system, but you can learn a lot by reading the Apostolic Constitution of Paul VI, Indulgentiarum Doctrina, especially the norms at the end, which talk about who can grant them.

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