Vatican City, Nov 2, 2003 / 22:00 pm
On Sunday, November 2, on the occasion of the feast of All Souls, Pope John Paul II reaffirmed the Catholic teaching on Purgatory as a place of purification in preparation for Heaven, by saying that in this solemnity we remember “all those who have left this world and are waiting to reach the heavenly city.”
“The Church,” said the Pope, “has always urged us to pray for the dead. She invites believers to regard the mystery of death not as the last word on human fate but as a journey toward eternal life.”
Explaining a key element of the doctrine of Purgatory, the Pontiff said, “It is an important duty of ours to pray for the dead because although they may have died in grace and in friendship with God, they may still be in need of a last purification in order to enter into the joy of heaven.”
“Prayer for the souls of the dead can be expressed in various ways, including a visit to the cemetery. Going to these sacred places provides an auspicious occasion to reflect on the meaning of earthly life and to nourish, at the same time, hope in the blessed eternity of paradise,” he concluded.
Afterwards, in improvised words in Polish, the Holy Father thanked his fellow Poles from Krakow for having gone to the graves of his parents and his brother in the cemetery at Rakowize to pray for the repose of their souls.