The Vatican’s Apostolic Penitentiary office, led by former Denver Archbishop, Cardinal James Francis Stafford, has announced that a Plenary Indulgence will be offered to faithful who participate in this year’s annual World Day of the Sick.
The World Day of the Sick, which will be celebrated on February 11th of this year, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, is the fifteenth of its kind, celebrated annually.
This year, it will take place in Adelaide, Australia, culminating with a Eucharistic celebration in that city’s cathedral of St. Francis Xavier.
Cardinal Stafford, who is the Vatican’s major penitentiary, met with Pope Benedict on January 2nd asking for the concession of special indulgences for the sick.
According to a text released today, the Holy Father, was "motivated by the ardent wish that the illnesses and pains of mankind, borne with resignation and offered to the Eternal Father, ... may bring abundant spiritual fruits.”
“Above all,” it continues, “he was sustained by the hope that activities and initiatives of Christian piety and social solidarity may be promoted in favor of the sick, especially those who, afflicted by mental problems, are marginalized by society and by their own families."
For this reason, the Vatican has decreed that a Plenary indulgence be granted to “faithful who, under the usual conditions (sacramental Confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer in keeping with the intentions of the Holy Father), and with the soul completely removed from attachment to any form of sin,” participate in the World celebration on February 11th.
The decree adds that they must participate either at the cathedral of Adelaide itself, or at some other place chosen by ecclesiastical authorities, “in a sacred ceremony held to beseech God to grant the goals of the World Day of the Sick."
In addition, the Vatican said that "faithful who, in public hospitals or in private houses, like 'Good Samaritans' charitably assist the sick - especially those with mental problems who require greater patience, care and attention - and who, because of the service they provide, cannot participate in the aforementioned ceremony,” will still be able to obtain the Indulgence.
These individuals are asked to “generously provide, at least for a few hours, their charitable assistance to the sick as if they were tending to Christ the Lord Himself, with the soul completely removed from attachment to any form of sin, and with the intention of observing, as soon as they can, the conditions required for obtaining the Plenary Indulgence."
Likewise, the apostolic office explained that faithful who, "through sickness, old age or similar reason, are prevented from participating” in the ceremony, may still obtain the Plenary Indulgence with special requirements.
The decree stated that their souls must be “completely removed from attachment to any form of sin” and that they make the intention of observing the aforementioned conditions as soon as they can.
They are also asked to “pray devotedly for the sick, and offer - through the Virgin Mary 'Health of the Sick' - their physical and spiritual sufferings to God."
For those who cannot meet the requirements for the Indulgence, the decree states that a Partial Indulgence will also be offered to "all the faithful whenever, between February 9 and 11, with a contrite heart they raise devout prayers to the merciful Lord calling for these aspirations to be met in order to help the sick."