In a decree released today, Pope Benedict has announced that the Church will grant a Plenary Indulgence for the upcoming feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8th.
The decree, which was signed by Cardinal James Francis Stafford, penitentiary major of the Apostolic Penitentiary, and Fr. John Francis Girotti, O.F.M. Conv., the group’s regent, notes that the December 8th Feast Day will mark 40 years since Mary was proclaimed Mother of the Church by Pope Paul VI at the Second Vatican Council.
The text notes that the late Holy Father “dedicated great praise to the Virgin who, as Mother of Christ, is Mother of God and spiritual Mother to us all.”
For this reason, the decree continues, “the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI, when he renders public homage of praise to Mary Immaculate, has the heartfelt desire that the entire Church should join with him, so that all the faithful, united in the name of the common Mother, become ever stronger in the faith, adhere with greater devotion to Christ, and love their brothers with more fervent charity.”
From here - as Vatican Council II very wisely taught - arise works of mercy towards the needy, observance of justice, and the defense of and search for peace."
The decree states that the Indulgence may be obtained under the “usual conditions”, which, according to Church norms, include, sacramental Confession, reception of the Eucharist, and prayer united with the Pope’s intentions.
The Indulgence also requires the soul to be “completely removed from attachment to any form of sin” during the Solemnity.
The decree likewise asks faithful to “participate in a sacred function in honor of the Virgin, or at least offer open testimony of Marian devotion before an image of Mary Immaculate exposed for public veneration, adding the recitation of the Our Father and of the Creed, and some invocation to the Virgin."
The historic document concludes by noting that those who are unable to participate in a public ceremony because of illness or some other “just cause” may obtain the Indulgence in their homes or respective location with the intention of completing the aforementioned conditions as soon as they can.