TAKING the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic into consideration, Pope Francis has extended until the end of this year the opportunity for Catholics to obtain a plenary indulgence in celebration of the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines.

“The decision comes in response to the Covid-19 pandemic that has affected activities for many people, and particularly to the request of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP),” the news agency of the CBCP reported.

The CBCP had sent a letter to the Vatican on March 7, 2022 explaining that the planned “ecclesial and spiritual activities” in the dioceses for the Jubilee Year had not been fully carried out amid the quarantines imposed by the government to stem the spread of Covid-19.

In response, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, issued a decree last March 17 extending the opportunities for pilgrims visiting any of the “Jubilee Churches” to gain indulgences until Dec. 31, 2022.

A plenary indulgence is the remission or freeing of a person from the temporal punishment his sins warrant. Temporal punishment is the penalty that God inflicts either on earth or in Purgatory for sins.

The Philippines had been granted a jubilee year for the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the country with Pope Francis naming 537 Jubilee churches in the Philippines, 13 of them in Cebu.

The indulgence was originally available only from April 4, 2021 to April 22, 2022.

To obtain the indulgence, the pilgrims must go to confession, receive the Eucharist, and pray for the intentions of the pope, aside from praying for “the fidelity of the Filipino people to their Christian calling, for the increase of priestly and religious vocations and for the defense of the family, concluding with the Lord’s Prayer, the profession of faith, and an invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary.”

The 13 Jubilee churches in Cebu are the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, the Archdiocesan Shrine of San Nicolas de Tolentino Parish in Cebu City, St. Catherine de Alexandria Parish in Carcar City, St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Argao, San Guillermo de Aquitania Parish in Dalaguete, Patrocinio de Maria Parish in Boljoon, St. Anne Parish in Barili, St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Balamban, Parish of Sts. Peter and Paul in Bantayan, Archdiocesan Shrine of St. Vincent Ferrer Parish in Bogo City, Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Parish in Danao City, National Shrine and Parish of St. Joseph in Mandaue City, and National Shrine of Our Lady of the Rule in Lapu-Lapu City.