Are we obligated to pray for the dead, those in Purgatory?

I am unable to find online the specific canon law or Church teaching that we are obligated to pray for the dead.

Please answer with a clearly and precisely stated Church teaching that we bound either morally or legally to pray for the dead.

-I am not interested in whether or not it is a good and holy action to pray for the dead. I want obligation: moral or legal.

-I am not interested in what the Church did during New Testament times. I want obligation: moral or legal

-I am not interested in what the people in heaven are doing. I want obligation: moral or legal.

Give me a little help please. Thanks.

Enjoy some French roast coffee and a piece of cake to sweeten the deal.

Honey, your request is worded like instructions on a mid-term from everyone’s least favorite professor. :smiley:

actually I found this right on the Catholic answers site.

It’s fairly long so I don’t think cutting and pasting is a good idea, but maybe if you checked it out, it would help?

There is this National Catholic Register article:

Praying for the Dead: Duty and Privilege

Tantum ergo and Xystus,
I browsed the Encyclopedia article and the article on Purgatory. Please cut and past the exact words that state we Christians are obligated to pray of the dead.


I look at praying for the souls in Purgatory as a quid pro quo. I pray for them now and when they are in heaven and I am in Purgatory they will pray for me. I don’t know if that has any moral or legal aspects to it but it is a comfort to me.

I don’t know why anyone would object.
I certainly hope someone will pray for my soul when I die.
Seems awful harsh to just forget them. :eek:

Thanks for the above two answers. But, I continue to ask you for proof that we are obligated to pray for the dead. Please read my original, clear and precise post.

If you have ever heard the statement, “We are obligated to pray for the dead.”, haven’t you wondered “Why?” I am asking the forums community for proof.

I want to have clarity of Church teaching not just fuzzy feelings.

we pray for the dead each day during the Eucharistic Prayer


The Question and Answer Catholic Catechism
John A Hardon, S.J.
Nihil Obstat, Imprimatur, 1981

  1. Are the faithful obliged to help the souls in purgatory?

Yes, the faithful are obliged to help the souls in purgatory. It is at once a duty of justice and charity. It is also a duty of personal interest since one day we may expect others to help us in the same way.

Are the faithful obliged to help the souls in purgatory.

Fr John Hardon, SJ, is a highly regarded Catholic authority. Before the CCC of 1992 his Catechism was the closest thing to a definitive reference for Catholic teaching.

Yes. Exactly!

My family won’t pray for me as they are all Protestant. Im hoping some kind catholic with a little extra love in their hearts and time on their hands will remember me! :o

I will pray for you.
I keep all my CAF friends in my prayers. No worries friend.

To the OP:

I object to the notion that praying for the dead is a “warm and fuzzy” thing.
That’s like saying “they’re dead” too bad, so sad.

It’s never wise to speak ill of the dead, and to neglect to lift them in prayer to the Most High is mean spirited indeed.

Praying for the dead is in the Catechism AND in Scripture.

1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.606 The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:607

As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.608
1032 ***This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: "Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin."609 From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God.610 The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:

Sounds awfully legalistic. Do you need a legal answer?

I don’t believe you are obligated to say any prayers in private for the dead. Still, you are obligated to hold that the Church’s view on purgatory and the communion of saints and praying for the dead are true and holy doctrines. You also pray to the saints and for the dead in every mass, so in a sense, you are already doing this.

Not sure if everyone noticed, but praying for those departed at every Mass, is praying for souls in Purgatory…so you’re doing it!

I would like to know what one of our CAF priests would say to these two confessions…

“I have neglected to pray the rosary.”

“I have neglected to pray for the souls in purgatory.”

Would he answer to the first that the rosary is commended, but not an obligation, but accept the second as a sin, or perhaps mention that the person has prayed for the dead at every Mass, and thus fulfilled the obligation?

Thanks for pointing that out!

Atassina - Why would you refuse to pray for the dead if there is no requirement? I should think that simply out of charity for those in purgatory that you would want to pray for them. As I am unfortunate to know too many young people who have died, most by suicide, I pray for them daily. Some are from Catholic families, so they will be remembered in prayer, but the majority are not. I consider it my duty - a duty that I don’t find at all onerous - to pray for these young people.

Ok scrolling down quite a bit here we go:

As a further testimony from the Western Church we may quote one of the many passages in which St. Augustine speaks of prayers for the dead: “The universal Church observes this law, handed down from the Fathers, that prayers should be offered for those who have died in the communion of the Body and Blood of Christ, when they are commemorated in their proper place at the Sacrifice” (Serm. clxxii, 2, P.L., XXXVIII, 936).

Note that St Augustine says “the universal Church” (that’s all of us) observes this law (law), handed down from the Fathers (so in place from earliest Christian times) that prayers should be offered for the dead. (and indeed in the Holy Mass during the Eucharistic prayers we offer prayers for the 'faithful departed/ all who have died".

Since as Catholics we are obligated to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation, we pray for the dead as an obligation as well.

Now there is more than one Eucharistic Prayer in the OF (legitimate ones along with ad libbed ones, don’t start me). . .and all of them mention prayers for the dead. All of them.

It’s as if God is saying, “Ok, I know you’re busy people. I know that you might not have time for prayer most days, except in praying you get through whatever you’re going through :D, so I’ll make sure that at Mass you have the chance to pray for everybody you should, and who, if you actually had the chance in this busy, frantic world with all your other obligations, you would think of and pray for”.

Now I have a question – are we obligated to pray for the living?

I’m a little offended the OP seems to have a problem with folks praying for me when I die.

St. Theresa of Calcutta one famously said that she feared that no one would pray for her after she died…she got so many compliments from admirers in this life…she feared that folks would assume she went straight to heaven, when, in fact, she might end up in purgatory, in her view.

Many people have this “oh, so-and-so never did anything bad, I’m sure they went right to heaven.”

All of us will need those port-mortem prayers, I’m afraid. :o

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