Pope appoints new counsellor to Vatican Apostolic Penitentiary

Pope Francis has appointed Fr Giuseppe Tonello as counsellor to the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Vatican Dicastery that issued the recent decree granting plenary indulgences to the faithful affected by Covid-19.


Fr Giuseppe Tonello is the latest to be appointed counsellor to the Apostolic Penitentiary. He is an Italian priest who is a Member of the Disciplinary Commission of the Rome Vicariate. He earned his law degree at Rome’s Pontifical Holy Cross University.

Vatican Dicasteries regularly include a certain number of counsellors, or advisors, who are experts in their specific fields.

Tribunal of mercy

The Apostolic Penitentiary is one of the tribunals of the Roman Curia, and is responsible for issues relating to the forgiveness of sins. Also called the “Tribunal of mercy”, its field of jurisdiction includes the lifting of excommunications, the dispensation of sacramental impediments, and the issuance and governance of indulgences.

Plenary indulgence

In this regard, the Apostolic Penitentiary issued a decree on 20 March granting plenary indulgences to the faithful suffering from the Covid-19 virus, “as well as to healthcare workers, family members and all those who in any capacity, including through prayer, care for them.”

The decree came in response to pastoral, spiritual and sacramental concerns for those affected by the coronavirus pandemic, which has raised “new uncertainties and above all widespread physical and moral suffering”, said the document.

Vatican News