VATICAN CITY – The Vatican’s Apostolic Penitentiary has granted a plenary indulgence for people with COVID-19 and for those who care for them, including medical staff and family members, and for those who pray for them.
Announced Friday, a plenary indulgence is granted to Catholics who, infected with the coronavirus and quarantined at home or the hospital by order of health officials, participate spiritually in a devotion such as the rosary or the Way of the Cross.
Catholics around the world who pray for an end to the pandemic, healing for the sick, and the eternal repose of the dead are also granted the indulgence, according to the decree.
Plenary indulgences, which remit all temporal punishment due to sin, must be accompanied by full detachment from sin.
In this case, the person must also fulfill the ordinary conditions of an indulgence, which are sacramental confession, reception of the Eucharist, and prayer for the intentions of the pope, by having the will to satisfy the conditions as soon as possible for them.
Other devotions which may grant the indulgence, the penitentiary said, are participation in Mass through the internet, and the recitation of the creed, the Our Father, and a “pious invocation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, offering this trial in a spirit of faith in God and charity towards their brothers and sisters.”
Health care workers and family members who have exposed themselves to the risk of contagion in caring for those ill with COVID-19 are also granted the indulgence under the same conditions, according to the declaration, which quoted Christ’s words that “no one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
The indulgence is granted “from the authority of the Supreme Pontiff,” with a decree signed by Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, penitentiary major of the Apostolic Penitentiary.
To receive the indulgence, always under the usual conditions, Catholics not sick with COVID-19 may offer at least a half hour of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament or a half hour of prayer with Scripture, or the recitation of the rosary or chaplet of Divine Mercy “to implore from the Almighty God an end to the epidemic, relief for those who are suffering, and eternal salvation of those whom the Lord has called to himself.”
The indulgence is granted, the decree stated, “so that all those who suffer because of COVID-19, in the very mystery of this suffering, can rediscover ‘the same redemptive suffering of Christ.’”
“Be glad in hope, constant in tribulation, persevering in prayer’ (Romans 12:12). The words written by Saint Paul to the Church of Rome resonate throughout the history of the Church and guide the judgment of the faithful in the face of every suffering, disease and calamity,” the March 20 announcement stated.
It explained that the coronavirus, which threatens humanity, has altered people’s lives by bringing fear, uncertainty, and widespread physical and moral suffering.
“The Church, following the example of her Divine Master, has always had assistance to the sick at heart,” the decree said.
The document quoted St. Pope John Paul II, who wrote in Salvifici Doloris that the value of human suffering “is supernatural, because it is rooted in the divine mystery of the redemption of the world, and it is also profoundly human, because in it man finds himself, his very humanity, his very dignity, his very mission.”
Pope Francis too, it noted, has invited constant prayer for those sick with COVID-19.
The coronavirus indulgence is also granted to those who are at the point of death, provided they are properly disposed and in the habit of prayer.
The decree said “the Church is praying for those who find it impossible to receive the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick and Viaticum, entrusting each and every one to divine Mercy by virtue of the communion of saints.”
“The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and of the Church, Health of the Sick and Help of Christians, our Advocate, would like to come to the aid of a suffering humanity, driving back from us the evil of this pandemic and obtaining all the good necessary for our salvation and sanctification,” the document concluded.