The Holy See announced Oct. 5 that Pope Benedict XVI has granted a plenary indulgence for the Year of Faith, which will last from Oct. 11, 2012 to Nov. 24, 2013.
The decree announcing the indulgence was signed Sept. 14 by Cardinal Manuel de Castro, Major Penitentiary, and Bishop Kryzsztof Nykiel, Regent, of the Apostolic Penitentiary. The penitentiary is the part of the Roman Curia responsible for indulgences and governing the sacrament of confession.
One plenary indulgence per day may be gained by an individual, which they can use for themselves or apply to a soul in purgatory. The indulgence remits the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven.
During the Year of Faith, there are four means of gaining an indulgence.
First, by attending at least three sermons “during the Holy Missions” or reading at least three lessons from the documents of the Second Vatican Council or the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
The second way is by making a pilgrimage to a basilica, catacomb, cathedral, or location designated by the local bishop for the Year of Faith, and either participating there in a sacred celebration, praying or meditating. The act of prayer should finish with an Our Father, a recitation of the Creed and a prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The third method of gaining an indulgence is by participating in Mass or the Liturgy of the Hours on a day chosen by the local ordinary, and reciting the Creed.
Finally, people can visit their place of baptism and renew their baptismal promises there.
Those who cannot attend such celebrations for serious reasons may still obtain the indulgence if they pray an Our Father and a Creed and other prayers that agree with the objectives of the Year of Faith.
A plenary indulgence also requires that the individual be in the state of grace, have complete detachment from sin, and pray for the Pope's intentions. The person must also sacramentally confess their sins and receive Communion up to about 20 days before or after completing the other acts.
The Year of Faith is meant to “recall the precious gift of faith” and “its correct interpretation.” It marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. Its opening also coincides with a general synod of bishops on the New Evangelization, which is taking place Oct. 7-28 at the Vatican.