It was to St. Peter that Jesus said, “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Mt 16:19) Then on the night of his Resurrection, Jesus told the Apostles, “Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven.”
The “Apostolic Pardon” is the special pardoning power reserved to the successor of St. Peter (the Pope – hence “Apostolic”), and anyone to whom he delegates it. Priests who have the faculties to hear confessions are ordinarily granted the power to bestow the “Apostolic Pardon” in danger of death, after hearing the sick person’s confession, if the sick person is conscious of any unconfessed mortal sins. The Apostolic Pardon forgives all sins and any canonical penalties that might be associated with any sin a person committed, and bestows a plenary indulgence. The canonical penalties of interdict, suspension, and excommunication are forgiven and removed with the Apostolic pardon.
A member of the faithful could incur the penalty of excommunication by the sins of heresy, apostasy, schism, physical assault of the pope, abortion, desecration of the Holy Eucharist, breaking the seal of confession, or absolution of an accomplice in a sin against the sixth commandment. Normally, a person would be aware of such grave sins, but sometimes, in the case of dementia, Alzheimer’s, or even a hardened conscience, a person may have forgotten. In the case that the patient who is in danger of death is not conscious when the priest bestows the Apostolic Pardon and conditional absolution, the Church presumes that the person would have wanted the absolution if he knew about it.
Here is the Apostolic Pardon in English and in Latin:
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. Amen.
Ego facultáte mihi ab Apostólica Sede tribúta, indulgéntiam plenáriam et remissiónem ómnium peccatórum tibi concédo, in nómine Patris, et Fílii, + et Spíritus Sancti. Amen.
And just in case you are wondering, you can easily find the Apostolic Pardon on the Relevant Radio App (FREE), on the right side drop-down menu under “Basic Prayers.”