The Norm of Confession for Gaining a Plenary Indulgence
The following was received by EWTN in response to a question directed to the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Roman dicastery responsible for the administration of Indulgences. The question asked was whether the norm enunciated in the Jubilee document Gift of the Indulgence, which allowed about 20 days before or after doing an indulgenced work to make one's confession, applied only to the Jubilee Year or continues in force. The traditional norm, still cited by many Catholic sources, is 8 days before or after (counting the day of the work).
As the response notes, the norm of about 20 days was given under "General remarks on indulgences" in Gift, and so remains in effect. Remaining in effect also, therefore, would be the entirety of the "General remarks" in Gift, as a reflection of the mind of the Holy See.
Prot. N. 39/05/I
APOSTOLIC PENITENTIARY to a doubt proposed on 16 February 2005, by the beloved in Christ Fr. (sic.) Colin B. Donovan, STL: <<regarding the force of the norm in "Gift of the Indulgence" which provided that sacramental Confession could be made "about 20 days" before or after the indulgenced work. Did this norm apply only to the Indulgences granted during the Great Jubilee or does it apply in perpetuity, so that even today a plenary indulgence may be gained based on a confession made within "about 20 days before or after the indulgenced work" >>, it is responded: Negative as far as the first part, Affirmative as far as the second (for this was not written under "Specific Aspects of the Jubilee Year", but in "General remarks on indulgences").
Given in Rome, from the offices of the Apostolic Penitentiary, 18 February 2005.
IOANNES FRANCISCUS GIROTTI, O.F.M. Conv.
Ioannes Maria Gervais
Assisting in Studies