Attending the March for Life in Washington D.C. this year? Then you can obtain a plenary indulgence!
First off, what is indulgence again? An indulgence is the “remission of the temporal punishment due to sin, the guilt of which has been forgiven.” In practice, this mostly means less time spent in Purgatory. A plenary indulgence is the remission of all temporal punishment.
When a person obtains an indulgence, they can apply it to themselves or to someone else, especially to those currently suffering temporal punishment in Purgatory.
In the letter from Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington and Cardinala Donald Wuerl of Washington announcing the plenary indulgence, they explained what is needed to obtain the indulgence:
1) Participate in the sacred celebrations and public events
The letter says one must “take part in the sacred celebrations, along with the great assembly of people, throughout the whole course of the annual event that is called ‘March for Life,’ which will be carried out on the eighteenth and nineteenth days of January 2018.”
This includes things like the National Vigil for Life in Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception the evening of the 18th, other prayer events, and of course the actual March for Life rally and march on January 19th.
2) Be penitential and compelled by charity
You can’t simply be at the events, you need to have a spirit of penance for your own sins, and be compelled by love to participate in the events, rather than some other reason.
3) Fulfill the other normal requirements for an indulgence
There are three: you must go to sacramental confession, receive the Eucharist, and then pray for the intentions of the Holy Father. All three of these could be done at the spiritual events being held surrounding the March for Life.
What if I am unable to attend the March for Life? Can I still get the plenary indulgence?
If you are unable to attend the march due to old age, illness, or some other “grave reason,” then yes, you can still obtain the plenary indulgence provided you meet all the normal requirements and spiritually join yourself with the pro-life ceremonies and activities.