Q. 1. What is an Apostolic Pardon?
A. 1. Before Vatican II, the "Apostolic Pardon" was called the "Apostolic Blessing."
The Apostolic Pardon is an indulgence that is given for the remission of temporal punishment due to sin. It is given by a Catholic priest, usually along with Viaticum (i.e. reception of Communion by a dying person, see Pastoral Care of the Sick, USA numbers 184, 187, 195, 201). Usually, it is not given as part of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. However if the Anointing of the Sick is given with Viaticum, in exceptional circumstances or an emergency, it may be given then. (See Pastoral Care of the Sick, USA numbers 243, 265)
According to the teachings of the Catholic church, a person who is properly disposed by being in the state of grace- i.e., the person has committed no known and unconfessed mortal sins - who receives the Apostolic Pardon gains the complete pardon of all temporal punishment due to sin that has already been forgiven by the reception of absolution and the doing of penance, i.e., a plenary indulgence. The Apostolic Pardon does not forgive sins by the act of absolution; it deals only with the punishment (purgation) due for those sins that have already been sacramentally forgiven. However, the Sacrament of Penance, or Reconciliation, which does forgive sins, is usually administered along with the Apostolic Pardon as a part of the Last Rites. The words of the Apostolic Pardon prayer explain the meaning of the act:
"Through the holy mysteries of our redemption may almighty God release you from all punishments in this life and in the life to come. May he open to you the gates of paradise and welcome you to everlasting joy."
"By the authority which the Apostolic See has given me, I grant you a full pardon and the remission of all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
# 28 in the Handbook of Indulgences states: "Priests who minister the sacraments to the Christian faithful who are in a life-and-death situation should not neglect to impart to them the apostolic blessing, with its attached indulgence. But if a priest cannot be present, holy mother Church lovingly grants such persons who are rightly disposed a plenary indulgence to be obtained in articulo mortis, at the approach of death, provided they regularly prayed in some way during their lifetime. The use of a crucifix or a cross is recommended in obtaining this plenary indulgence. In such a situation the three usual conditions required in order to gain a plenary indulgence are substituted for by the condition 'provided they regularly prayed in some way.'