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Privileged Altars
Question from Anon. on 4/30/2004:

Dear Mr. Donovan,

What is the current status of privileged Altars? Can Altars still given this status? Who has the faculty to make an Altar privileged?

God Bless,

Anon.

Answer by Colin B. Donovan, STL on 5/3/2004:

First, a priviledged altar is an altar to which the Holy See has attached a plenary indulgence for the celebration of a Mass for the Dead, to be applied to the person for whom the Mass is offered.

In 1967 Pope Paul VI decreed in his Apostolic Constitution Indulgentiarum doctrina,

Norm 20. Holy Mother Church, extremely solicitous for the faithful departed, has decided that suffrages can be applied to them to the widest possible extent at any Sacrifice of the Mass whatsoever, abolishing all special privileges in this regard.

[and]

Indulgences attached to the use of religious objects which are not mentioned above cease three months after the date of publication of this constitution in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.

Thus, the grants of privileged altars were suppressed.

It should be noted that the following year in Enchiridion Indulgentiarum he suppressed all general and particular grants of Indulgence issued previously. However, in suppressing these grants he made new even more generous grants, so that while particular prayers on prayer cards and in prayer books with explicit grants attached (300 days, 5 years etc.) are no longer valid, any devout prayer (including those older ones) gain a partial indulgence.



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