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Ask Fr. Francis: Indulgences - How do they work?

The following is an excerpt from Fr. Francis Ching, CC answers tough questions about the Catholic faith.


  1. Why is Indulgence only granted by the Pope during certain occasions or feast days?
  2. Why does the Pope have rights to grant indulgence?
  3. Can I obtain Indulgence by doing all the requirements of Indulgence during ordinary days without being granted by the Pope?

Fr. Francis' answer:

First of all, there are many ways to obtain indulgence. Only a very selective group of indulgences are limited to particular days. Many of them can be applied every day. Here are some examples:

  • pray the Rosary with a group in a church or a public oratory
  • read and meditate on the Bible devoutly for half an hour
  • keep a holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament
  • visit a Church or a shrine on the feast day of its namesake; e.g., visit St. Joseph’s Church on St. Joseph’s feast days.

Indulgence is a gift of God’s remission on the temporal punishment even after our sins have been forgiven. This is because our sins have two effects: they damage our relationships with God, self, others and nature, but also deprive the world God’s blessings that would have come through us. Confession heals the relationship, but we must continue to repair the harm our sins caused.

Indulgence is the Church applying the merits stored up from Jesus’ Passion and the merits of all the saints, to pay up the reparation still unfinished by a soul. This responsibility has been entrusted to the Pope. He alone therefore has the jurisdiction to regulate it...

“From this we can see, the heart of the practice of indulgence is not primarily about getting favours from God, but training us to desire holiness.”

Read the full answer here!

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