Radio Show

Can the Souls in Purgatory Pray for Us?


A listener named Eric asks if the souls in purgatory are able to pray for us. He explains that his grandmother used to pray a novena to the holy souls in purgatory, but he is not sure if this is officially taught by the Church.

“It is one of those things that the Catholic Church does not have a decided teaching on one way or the other.” Father Dave responds. “It allows the faithful to believe either way because there are theological and philosophical arguments that could go either way… One thing that the Church does fairly definitively teach is that the souls in purgatory cannot do anything on their own behalf anymore. What we believe is that purgatory is this time of purifying, and there can be works of mercy — corporal works of mercy, spiritual works of mercy that can benefit them. Sometimes we use the phrase, ‘shave time off of purgatory.’ We’re not sure if time even really applies once we get out of this dimension, but in some way, we can do stuff to benefit those souls in purgatory, which is why we usually pray for them and have Masses said for them.”

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Father Dave explains that there are two different opinions on whether or not the souls in purgatory can intercede for us. He points out that Thomas Aquinas believed that although the souls in purgatory are above us on account of their impeccability, they are nonetheless not in a condition to pray for those on earth. However, other doctors of the church, like Saint Robert Bellarmine and Saint Alphonsus Liguori did believe that the souls in purgatory could pray for us, but the Church does not require us to believe either of these notions. (Original Air 10-30-20)