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

I agree. We do pray for the dead during the Mass. However, you have not answered the question I have asked.

Are we obligated morally, legally or by our faith in Jesus to pray for the dead?


I agree and this sure sounds like it is true. However it does not answer my question.

Are we obligated to pray for her?


Mother Theresa has been declared a saint, so it would be rather pointless to pray for her. But for those in purgatory (and we can’t know - other than declared saints - who they are) can benefit from our prayers, and we benefit also. Praying often is rather like exercise - the more you exercise & the more variety of exercise (i.e., exercising as many muscles as possible, not just a few), the stronger you get. If the only times you pray are at Mass, or before meals, you may have some flabby prayer “muscles.”

PS - “All analogies limp, but some analogies limp more than others.” So please don’t point out the limps. Thank you. :slight_smile:

Yes! Of course. St. Paul says so under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Thus it is a command and not a request. So, we pray for the living I do so each day.


:hug1: Thanks!

Your question was answered.

Post #9

2 Maccabees 12:46 Therefore it is a holy and beneficial thought to pray on behalf of those who have passed away, so that they may be released from their sins. Douay Rheims Catholic version.

Thank you all for for offering answers to my question about being obligated to pray for the dead. So far I am not convinced that we are obligated in the sense of sinful if I do not.

My biggest concern here was reading articles near All Saints and All Souls day that stated we are obligated to pray for the dead. I thought, “Oh really! Who says so? By what authority are they stating an obligation as a Christian to pray for the dead?”

What will you say to a Protestant friend who sincerely asks you why all Christians are obligated to pray for the dead? There must be a simple answer.

For example, these early 1st century documents show that the Apostles and the first Christians prayed for the dead because they were compelled by the love of Jesus.

I personally feel compelled by love to pray for the dead and the living. I do so every day. I always have and will continue to do so until I am no longer able to - even in eternity. I felt this even since my earliest days.

However, I will not tell another Christian (I am a Catholic Christian.) that they are obligated to pray for the dead. I have no authority to do so. I teach what the Church teaches me. I refuse to put millstones around other’s necks.

We pray in the Liturgy all the time for the dead.

Are we to respond as the Liturgy gives us to do?

Yes of course.


Is Fr John A Hardon, SJ, wrong in writing that the faithful are obliged to help the souls in purgatory? Does he not understand the word “oblige”? It seems unlikely that his Catechism would have received an Nihil Obstat from a theological censor and an Imprimatur from a Bishop if this were an error.

I understand that you are reluctant to state something as an obligation when it isn’t, however that was the question you emphasised and that was the answer you got. If you ask a legalistic question then you can expect a legalistic response - and must address it at that level.

“Yes, the faithful are obliged to help the souls in purgatory.”

Whether this obligation is fulfilled by the eucharistic prayer is a separate question.


There is a simple answer for Protestants. They don’t pray for the dead because they do on believe in Purgatory. There is no point in praying for those in Heaven because they don’t need our prayers. There is no point in praying for those in Hell because they cannot be helped. Most, if not all, Protestants stop there, and we can agree with them.

But we believe there is a place for people whose final destination is Heaven, but they are not quite ready for it. Our prayers are supposed to help them. If you need absolute proof of that I can’t help you. There is no more proof that prayers are of any help for those in Purgatory than there is that prayer helps those of us here. We are told it helps, we like to believe it helps, but we have no proof. :shrug:

I tend to be pragmatic about these things - if it helps me & doesn’t hurt anyone, then I do it. So I pray for the dead.

“It is our Christian duty to pray for and bury the dead”

~ Most Reverend James H. Garland, Bishop
Roman Catholic Diocese of Marquette, Michigan

A Pastoral Letter on Christian Funerals

Given this Second Day of November
The Commemoration Of All The Faithful Departed, 2001

Thanks for the balance and moderation in your reply.

Thanks again. I act on what the bishops tell me. Duty means obligation. I am obedient to our bishops, regardless of my own mistaken opinions.


I’m glad that you’ll accept the authority of a bishop, and this has finally been settled. :thumbsup:

However I’m confused as to how it went this far.

Fr Hardon is not a bishop, true, but when he wrote that the faithful are obliged to help the souls in purgatory he wasn’t expressing his opinion, but stating what the Church teaches. That’s what a Catechism does.

His Catechism was published with the authority of the Church. That’s what Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur mean. The Imprimatur is given by a bishop. You can be assured that every word of it was reviewed multiple times by competent Catholic authorities.

As I mentioned in my first post, Fr Hardon’s catechisms were used as references for Catholic teaching prior the publication of the CCC in 1992.

Or did you think I was just citing to a blogger? :confused:

I did not think you were quoting a blogger.
I was unaware of Fr. Hardon’s catechisms and their acceptance as references to Church teaching before the CCC.

I had a bad experience with a catechism that had both the Nihil Obstat (no objection) and Imprimatur (let it be printed). I have purchased many books. It is still today the only book I have thrown in the trash because it had so many personal opinions and speculations that I didn’t want its misdirecting content to contaminate an unsuspecting believer.

My understanding that the CCC is a sure and reliable norm to authoritative Church teaching. I believe and act on all Church teaching.
“To know and not to act is not to know”

Do I understand all Church teaching? No.
I do what I’m told and not what I think.

Therefore, when someone tells me I am obligated under pain of sin to do thus and such, I want to know under whose authority do they proclaim this obligation. So, it seems to me that if the bishops as a collective body ask us to pray for the Church suffering, I will do so. I act not because it is an obligation, but because it comes from the bishops.

I obey my pastor because he is appointed by the bishop.
I obey the bishop because he was ordained by another bishop who was ordained by another bishop and so on back to the holy Apostles.
The Apostles were ordained by Jesus.
Jesus is God and I do what God says.

If I hurt or offended you, I apologize.
I wish you peace.


No worries!

That explains your reluctance to accept Fr Hardon’s answer. I actually commend you for your critical approach, after this explanation.

It is good to sometimes distinguish between what is commendable, and what is actually obliged, and to ask “On what authority?”.

Awee… same to you… :o

This has been a worthwhile discussion. I’m still curious as to whether attendance at Mass fulfills our minimum obligation to help the souls in purgatory. However, like you, I pray for them anyway, and perform other indulgences, so it is a matter of curiousity rather than practical import.

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