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Pope grants indulgence to visitors of 500 Jubilee Churches in Philippines

Pope Francis is granting a plenary indulgence to Filipinos visiting any of 500 Jubilee Churches to mark 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines this 2021, the Vatican announced.

In Catholic belief, an indulgence is a special blessing that removes God's punishment for sins that have already been forgiven. When an indulgence is "plenary," it involves the total removal of punishment, as opposed to a partial indulgence.

The Pope made this decision in a February 25 decree issued to the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), according to CBCP News on Thursday, March 4.

The decree was signed by Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, head of the Vatican's Apostolic Penitentiary, as Filipinos mark the 500th year of Christianity in the country this 2021.

To gain the plenary indulgence, the Vatican prescribes visiting one of 537 Jubilee Churches in the Philippines any time until April 22, 2022, according to CBCP News. The list of Jubilee Churches can be found here.

In these Jubilee Churches, the Vatican requests pilgrims to pray "for the fidelity of the Filipino people to their Christian calling, for the increase of priestly and religious vocations, and for the defense of the family, concluding with the Lord's Prayer, the profession of faith, and an invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary."

The Vatican also extends its offer of a plenary indulgence "to the sick, the elderly, and all those who for legitimate reasons are unable to leave their homes," according to CBCP News. This is provided that they stay away from sin, and fulfill the three usual conditions for an indulgence as soon as possible.

While the sale of indulgences was one of the abuses committed by priests in the Middle Ages – one of the reasons why Martin Luther started the Protestant movement – the Catholic Church later on reformed the practice of granting these blessings.

Nowadays, the faithful can gain indulgences by fulfilling a prescribed act of devotion, such as visiting special churches, along with the three usual conditions of confessing one's sins to a priest, receiving holy communion, and praying for the intentions of the Pope.

Aside from granting a plenary indulgence to Filipino pilgrims, to mark the 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines, the Pope has also declared a special Jubilee Year in Cebu starting April 4, while he is also set to lead a Mass to celebrate the event at Saint Peter's Basilica on March 14. – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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