In a further sign of his attachment to the Divine
Mercy devotion, Pope John Paul II has authorised the
recognition of a plenary indulgence to Catholics who
participate fully in the devotion.
'To ensure that the faithful live this celebration
with intense piety, the supreme pontiff has ordered
the Sunday be enriched with the plenary indulgence,'
said a papal spokesman.
The Vatican said Pope John Paul wanted the
indulgence, a remission of the temporal punishment
deserved for sins, to be available on the Sunday
after Easter, 'in order to impress deeply on the
souls of the faithful the precepts and teachings of
Christian faith', regarding God's mercy and
'With the indulgence, the faithful can receive even
more fully the gift of the consolation of the Holy
Spirit,' the spokesman said.
'In that way, the faithful can nourish a growing love
for God and for their neighbours and, obtaining
pardon from God, they are led in turn to quickly
forgive their brothers and sisters.'
In order to receive the indulgence, Catholics must
fulfill the basic requirements of going to
confession, receiving the Eucharist and offering
prayers for the intentions of the Pope.
The special indulgence is earned when they meet the
basic requirements and then, "with a soul totally
detached from affection to any sin, even venial,
participate in the pious practices undertaken in
honour of divine mercy, or at least recite in the
presence of the Blessed Sacrament, the Our Father,
the Creed and a pious invocation to the merciful Lord
Jesus," such as "Merciful Jesus, I trust in you," the
The Vatican also asked priests to make special
efforts on Divine Mercy Sunday to extend the mercy of
Jesus by dedicating extra time to hearing
The Divine Mercy devotion was begun in the late 1930s
by a Polish nun, Sister Faustina Kowalska, who said
she had a vision of Jesus in which he asked for
devotions to his divine mercy on the Sunday after
The Vatican banned the devotion in 1959. But a few
years later, Archbishop Karol Wojtyla of Krakow, the
future Pope John Paul II, opened the sainthood cause
of Sister Faustina.
The Vatican lifted the ban on the devotions in 1978,
six months before the Polish prelate was elected
pope. In 1993 he beatified Sister Faustina, and in
2000 he canonised her and established Divine Mercy
Sunday.The Divine Mercy movement has attracted
millions of devotees.
In a separate announcement, the Vatican also said
that Pope John Paul has extended a bishop's power to
impart annually a papal blessing and plenary
indulgence to the faithful in his cathedral.
Bishops, both of the Latin and Eastern rites, also
may impart a papal blessing and indulgence each year
to the faithful in a co-cathedral or in a church that
once was the cathedral of an extinct diocese.