My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
As you know, our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has declared a Year of Faith which began on Oct. 11 and will conclude on Nov. 24, 2013. This Year of Faith coincides with both the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. During the Year of Faith, Catholics are asked to study and reflect on the documents of Vatican II and the catechism so that they may deepen their knowledge of love for the faith. In our own archdiocese we have embarked on a Faith Initiative, not only in celebration of the Year of Faith declared by the Holy Father, but in a sincere effort to deepen our relationship with Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, while at the same time celebrating the gift — the beauty — of our Catholic faith by loving it, learning it, and living it more intensely.
Pope Benedict has granted a plenary indulgence for the Year of Faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that an indulgence is “the remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sin whose guilt has already been forgiven” (CCC, No. 1471). Even when guilt of sin is forgiven in the sacrament of reconciliation, its effects and wounds in human nature remain. The practice of obtaining an indulgence involves the healing of these effects of sin and helps us grow in our relationship with God. One plenary indulgence per day may be gained by an individual, which they can use for themselves or apply to a soul in purgatory. During the Year of Faith, there are four means of gaining an indulgence.
First, by reading at least three lessons from the documents of the Second Vatican Council or the Catechism of the Catholic Church. In our archdiocese, we have provided the following opportunities: the Vatican II Lecture Series, presented by Archbishop James P. Keleher and Father John Melnick, SSA (with live streaming to allow viewing at remote locations); the catechism courses offered in our parishes by the Holy Family School of Faith. For more information on these programs and to check dates and parish locations near you, please visit our website at: www.archkck.org/faith.
Second, 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 or remaining for a time of prayer and pious meditation. The act of prayer should finish with praying the Our Father, reciting the Creed and praying to the Blessed Virgin Mary. I hereby designate the following holy sites within the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas as eligible for gaining the plenary indulgence: Cathedral of St. Peter, Kansas City, Kan.; Immaculate Conception Church, Leavenworth; Shrine of St. Philippine Duchesne, Mound City; St. Rose Philippine Duchesne Memorial Park, 1525th St., Centerville; Assumption Church, Topeka; St. Mary Church, St. Benedict — Nemaha County; Immaculate Conception Church, St. Marys.
Third, by participating in a solemn celebration of the Eucharist or the Liturgy of the Hours in a sacred place, on a day chosen by the local ordinary, and reciting the Creed. I declare the following days during the Year of Faith to be eligible for the indulgence: the feast of the Chair of St. Peter (Feb. 22); the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (May 31) and on the same day, the anniversary of the dedication of the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle, Kansas City, Kan.; Blessed Junipero Serra (July 1); the Queenship of Mary (Aug. 22); the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Sept. 14); the feast of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne (Nov. 18).
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 to a priest and receive holy Communion up to about 20 days before or after completing the other acts.
It is my sincere prayer that during this Year of Faith, and through our own Faith Initiative here in the archdiocese, all Catholics will experience, in the words of our Holy Father, an “authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the One Savior of the world” (“Porta Fidei” (“The Door of Faith”), No. 6). The Year of Faith is an opportunity for Catholics to experience a conversion — to turn back to Jesus and enter into a deeper relationship with him. May these holy sites and feast days that I have designated in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, and the other opportunities declared by Pope Benedict for gaining the indulgence, be powerful instruments for conversion for you and for all the faithful of northeast Kansas. I encourage you to visit our website for more information on gaining the indulgence and for opportunities for prayer, education, catechesis, study and formation during this Year of Faith.
Commending us all to the protection and intercession of our patron, the Immaculate Conception, I remain,
Sincerely yours in Jesus, the Lord of Life,
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann
Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas