To all the Faithful who read this Letter, Greetings and Apostolic Blessing.
Since We have been elevated to the Papacy by the inscrutable counsel of divine wisdom and goodness and by no merits of Our own, while acknowledging the gift of God, We also fear His judgment. And so, as often as We seriously contemplate the task entrusted to Us, We are frightened by its gravity. Our awareness of the weakness of Our own resources deeply disturbs Us. If We were not confident of His help, We could lose courage altogether. Therefore, We implore the help of all Christians in invoking God to strengthen Us, to fill Us with the knowledge of His will, and to pour into Us the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of knowledge and holiness, and the spirit of counsel and fortitude. Then in the midst of so many difficulties, We may come to know what must be done, and with Our eyes ever directed to Him, We may carry out profitably what is right. Let us beseech Him to watch over the chosen vineyard which He has planted and to foster with the gifts of His grace His people walking in the ways of His commandments in this earthly pilgrimage and happily bring them to the promised rewards of eternal life.
2. To achieve these goals, following the ancient custom of Our predecessors, We have decided to draw from the treasury of divine grace, whose disposal is entrusted to Our keeping, for the felicitous inauguration of Our Pontificate. Therefore, We grant and concede to each and all of the faithful of both sexes, wherever they may reside, a plenary indulgence if they fulfill the usual requirements. They must visit at least once churches designated by the Ordinaries of the places or their Vicars or Officiales or by their authority, or, where these are lacking, by those who exercise care of souls, after this Encyclical has come to their notice, or any church of such nature, which has been made the object of such visits. This must be done within the space of fifteen continuous days or two weeks after the publication of this designation by the Ordinaries or their Vicars or Officiales or others, as declared above, (which weeks, We greatly hope, may fall in the favorable time of Lent in the case of those to whom this Encyclical has arrived in time, and there shall have devoutly prayed to God for some period of time. They shall have fasted on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of either week and shall have confessed their sins and reverently received Holy Communion on the Sunday immediately following or any day of the same week in either of the two weeks. Finally, they shall have given to the poor some alms, as each one’s devotion suggests. Upon completion of these requirements, they receive a plenary indulgence and remission of all their sins, as is customarily conceded to those who visit certain churches within and without the city of Rome in Jubilee Years. Moreover, those making journeys by sea or by land may receive the same indulgence when they have returned to their homes after having performed the above mentioned actions and having visited the cathedral or principal or parish church of their domicile.
3. In the case of religious men and women, even those living in perpetual cloister, and others both laity and clergy whether in prison or restrained by some bodily infirmity or some other impediment, who cannot perform any or all of the above conditions, We grant that a confessor approved before or after the publication of this Encyclical may commute or postpone for a relative period of time their works of piety and enjoin other works as their penitents can perform.
4. Moreover, We grant to each and all of the faithful of both sexes both laity and clergy, whether secular or religious of any order, congregation or institute, the permission and authority to select for this purpose any priest as confessor, whether secular or regular of any order or institute, from those approved before or after the publication of this encyclical. This time only and in the forum of conscience he may absolve and free them from excommunication, interdict suspension and any other ecclesiastical sentence, censure and penalty either inflicted by law or personally imposed for whatever occasion or cause. Under the same conditions, He may also absolve them from all sins, excesses, crimes, and delicts, however grave or enormous, even those reserved in any way to the ordinary of the place or to Us and the Apostolic See or otherwise reserved through Our own or former papal constitutions, whose tenor We wish to be considered expressly. He may also commute any vows (except those having to do with religious life and chastity) to other pious and salutary works, having enjoined, however, in all the above cases, a salutary penance and other acts according to the decision of the same confessor.
5. In keeping with the intention of Our predecessors in proclaiming a Jubilee, however, We do not intend to dispense from any public or hidden irregularity, infamy, defect or incapacity or unsuitability, however contracted, or to grant the faculty of dispensing, making competent or restoring one to a former state, even in the forum of conscience. Nor do We intend that this encyclical be used in any way on behalf of those who have been excommunicated, suspended or interdicted by Us or any other prelate or ecclesiastical court, unless within the time of the Jubilee they have made satisfaction and been reconciled with the parties involved.
6. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary, on this particular occasion and for the purpose given above We repeal all things contrary to Our decree, even when special, specific, expressed, and individual mention is made explicitly and not merely through general clauses having the same meaning or where some other expression is used for this purpose, with the understanding that We have sufficiently understood their tenor and preserved their form. So may the holy apostles, Peter and Paul in whose power and authority We trust intercede for you all with the Lord.
7. Meanwhile may the almighty and merciful Lord grant you indulgence, absolution, and remission of all your sins, time for a true and fruitful repentance and emendation of life, the grace and consolation of the Holy Spirit, and final perseverance in good works. Trusting in His kindness and mercy We lovingly grant you Our apostolic blessing. We wish, moreover, that printed copies of this encyclical, signed by notary publics and attested by the seal of a person of ecclesiastical dignity in all places and nations, have the same authority as the encyclical letter itself.
Given in Rome at St. Mary Major under the fisherman’s ring, 12 December 1769, in the 1st year of Our Pontificate.