Decree of Special Indulgence for 21st World Day of the Sick


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Special Indulgences in occasion
of the XXI World Day of the Sick

The Redemption was accomplished through the Holy Cross of Christ, that is, through his passion. All human suffering, in truth, can participate in the redemptive suffering of the Lord; in fact, the Apostle Paul says: «in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church»(Col 1:24).

In the current Year of Faith, especially dedicated to the profession of the true faith and its correct interpretation, it is worth remembering the luminous teaching of the Second Vatican Council about the Christian meaning of suffering and of its sharing among the brethren: «Since the works of charity and mercy express the most striking testimony of the Christian life, apostolic formation should lead also to the performance of these works so that the faithful may learn from childhood on to have compassion for their brethren and to be generous in helping those in need»(Decree Apostolicam Actuositatem, 31c).

Therefore, driven by the desire that the annual celebration of the World Day of the Sick, this year especially solemn, may prove an ever more effective catechesis on the salvific meaning of suffering and may sensitize more all those who, for various reasons, are committed to the service of those who suffer in body and soul, the Holy Father has chosen as the theme of the twenty-first World Day of the Sick, which will be held from the 7th to 11th of the coming month of February, the Good Samaritan: «Go and do likewise»(Lk 10:37), which teaches man «to do good by his suffering and to do good to those who suffer» (Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris, 30). At the end of the Day, on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, his Excellency Mons. Zygmunt Zimowski, President of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, Special Envoy of His Holiness, will preside at the Marian Shrine of Altötting, in the Diocese of Passau, a solemn Eucharistic celebration with the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.

So that the faithful may prepare themselves spiritually to participate in the event in the best way, His Holiness Benedict XVI, at the Audience granted on the 18th of the current month of January, to the undersigned Cardinal Major Penitentiary and Regent of this Apostolic Penitentiary, has graciously bestowed the gift of Indulgences in the spirit of the following disposition, provided that the faithful, truly repentant and stimulated by charity, following the example of the Good Samaritan, in a spirit of faith and in a merciful disposition, put themselves at the service of their suffering brethren and, if they in turn are sick, bear the pains and hardships of life, raising their soul with humble trust to God and giving open witness to the faith through the way of the Gospel of suffering:

A. The Plenary Indulgence, which the faithful, with truly repentant and contrite spirit, can obtain once a day under the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer according to the intentions of the Holy Father) and also apply in relief of the souls of the faithful departed, whenever, from the 7th to the 11th of this coming February, at the Marian shrine of Altötting or at any other place determined by the Ecclesiastical authority, they participate devoutly in a ceremony celebrated to implore from God the intentions of the World Day of the Sick and pray the Our Father, the Creed and a pious invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The faithful who in public hospitals or in any private home charitably assist, like the Good Samaritan, the sick and, as a result of their service, cannot participate in the above-mentioned functions, will obtain the same gift of the Plenary Indulgence, if in those set days for at least few hours they lend generously their charitable assistance as if they were doing it to Christ the Lord (cf. Mt 25:40) and recite the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed and a pious invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, in a spirit of total detachment from any sin and with the intention to fulfill as soon as possible the conditions required to obtain the Plenary Indulgence.

Lastly, the faithful who through sickness, old age or other such reasons, are prevented from taking part in the aforementioned ceremony, will obtain the Plenary Indulgence if, with their soul completely detached from any sin and with the intention of fulfilling the usual conditions as soon as possible, they participate spiritually in the sacred functions in the established days, especially while the Liturgical Celebrations and Message of the Supreme Pontiff are broadcast on television and radio, pray devoutly for all the sick and offer to God, through the Virgin Mary, Salus infirmorum, their physical and spiritual sufferings.

B. A Partial indulgence to all the faithful whenever they address to the merciful God, with a contrite heart, in the aforementioned days, fervent prayers for the sick in the spirit of the current Year of Faith.

This Decree is effective for this occasion. Notwithstanding any provision to the contrary.

Given in Rome, at the Offices of the Apostolic Penitentiary, 25 January 2013, on the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, concluding the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Manuel Cardinal Monteiro de Castro
Penitentiary Major

Mons. Krzysztof Nykiel

[00140-01.01] [Original text: Latin]
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