Late yesterday afternoon, the Apostolic Penitentiary published a decree announcing the concession of indulgences to the faithful for the World Day of the Sick, which is celebrated every year on February 11, Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. This year, the Day will be celebrated in Seoul, Korea. The decree from the Vatican includes provisions for the elderly and sick who are unable to celebrate the Day of the Sick and encourages all the faithful to offer special prayers for the sick.
"We must," the text of the decree reads, "reflect deeply upon the fact that human remedies have a limit and that, therefore, there will inevitably come a time when man reaches the end of his journey on this earth. To the sick who are in that condition we must offer the most attentive care and the greatest charity, so that their transit from this world to the Father is comforted by divine consolation and so that, as the Church's prayer for the dying implores, they may see the gentle face of Jesus Christ and clearly hear the voice calling them to eternal glory and joy."
"With this awareness, the Holy Mother Church hopes that the annual celebration of the World Day of the Sick may become an effective catechesis of the teaching ... of the treasure of Revelation, concerning the value and function of suffering."
For this reason, Plenary Indulgence will be granted "to the 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 on February 11 in the city of Seoul, or at any other place decided by the ecclesiastical authorities, in a sacred ceremony held to beseech God to grant the goals of the World Day of the Sick."
The decree continues: "The faithful who, in public hospitals or in private houses, like 'Good Samaritans' charitably assist the sick - especially those suffering incurable and terminal diseases - and who, because of the service they provide, cannot participate in the aforementioned ceremony, will obtain the same gift of Plenary Indulgence if on that day they 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.”
"The faithful who, through sickness, old age or similar reason, are prevented from participating in the aforementioned ceremony, may obtain the Plenary Indulgence if, 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, they spiritually participate together with the Holy Father in the aforesaid ceremony, pray devotedly for the sick, and offer - through the Virgin Mary 'Health of the Sick' - their physical and spiritual sufferings to God."
Partial Indulgence, the text of the decree concludes, will be conceded 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, especially those suffering incurable and terminal disease."