.- Pope Benedict XVI has declared that pilgrims to World Youth Day in Madrid will be able to obtain a special indulgence while attending the event.
“We are very happy because the Holy Father reinforces with this decision the penitential meaning of World Youth Day in Madrid,” communications director Rafa Rubio told CNA on Aug. 11.
The indulgence will allow young people to draw closer to God and grow in their friendship with Christ, Rubio added.
An indulgence is the means by which the Catholic Church – with the authority of Jesus Christ – rescinds the temporal consequences of sins that have already been forgiven in confession.
Indulgences replaced the severe penances imposed in the early Church and can be either “plenary” or “partial,” which respectively rescind all or part of the punishment caused by sin.
The Pope’s intentions were announced Aug. 11 in a decree from the Apostolic Penitentiary in Rome, the Vatican body responsible for issues related to the forgiveness of sins.
The Penitentiary explained that the Latin-language edict “grants a plenary indulgence to the faithful who attend the occasion of ‘World Youth Day XXVI’ in Madrid in a spirit of pilgrimage.” A partial indulgence can also be gained by “everyone, wherever they are, who prays for the spiritual purpose of this meeting and for its happy outcome.”
In order to receive the plenary indulgence it states that Madrid pilgrims must go to confession, receive Holy Communion and pray for the intentions of Pope Benedict.
The partial indulgence is available to those “wherever they are” during next week’s events if “with contrite hearts, they lift up their prayers to God the Holy Spirit, to the end that He might urge the young to charity and that He might give them the strength to announce the Gospel with their own lives.”
The decree also explains that the indulgences were requested by Cardinal Antonio Rouco Varela of Madrid, as he wanted “young people to receive the desired fruits of sanctification” from World Youth Day in his home city.
Finally, it asks that all priests in Madrid next week make themselves available as confessors for the young pilgrims.
World Youth Day is a series of events running from Tuesday, August 16 to Sunday, August 21. The Pope will arrive on the evening of Thursday, August 18. He will preside at a total of nine events culminating in Sunday Mass at Cuatro Vientos Airport. The latest estimate is that one million young people will descend upon the Spanish capital during the week.