Pope Francis has granted a special plenary indulgence to members of the scandal-tainted Legion of Christ order as it celebrates the 75th anniversary of its foundation by the discredited Mexican priest, Marcial Maciel.

Vatican Radio said Thursday that the decree was approved following a request by the current Legion superior, the Rev. Eduardo Robles-Gil.

Robles-Gil has been leading the Legion since the Vatican signed off on its process of reform following revelations that Maciel sexually abused seminarians.

Indulgences are the ancient church tradition related to the forgiveness of sins that roughly amounts to a "get out of Purgatory free" card. Catholics seeking them must be contrite and have a moment of deepening faith.

Legion members must also renew their vows, evangelize and perform works of mercy.