VATICAN CITY, NOV. 2, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II reminded the faithful on All Souls’ Day that it is a duty to pray for the dead, and he prayed in particular for “the most forgotten.”
In a frail voice, at times difficult to understand, the Pope led the Angelus prayer at midday for thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
“It is important and proper to pray for the dead because, even if they died in grace and in friendship with God, perhaps they still have need of further purification to enter into the joy of heaven,” the Holy Father explained.
“The Church has always exhorted to pray for the dead,” he said. “She invites believers to look upon the mystery of death not as the last word on human fate, but as the passage toward eternal life.”
“Intercession for them is expressed in various ways, among which is also a visit to cemeteries,” the Holy Father continued. “To visit these holy places is a propitious occasion to reflect on the meaning of earthly life and to nourish, at the same time, hope in the blessed eternity of Paradise.”
The Pontiff asked for prayers “in particular” for the dead who are “most forgotten.”
John Paul II also gave an address Saturday when praying the Angelus with pilgrims, on the solemnity of All Saints.
This year, because of his difficulty walking, the Holy Father was unable to go down to the Vatican grottos to pray for the numerous popes buried there.
However, he told the pilgrims: “I also go spiritually on pilgrimage to the cemeteries of the different parts of the world, where the remains rest of those who preceded us in the sign of faith.”
“In particular, I pray for those whom no one thinks about anymore, as well as for the many victims of violence,” he concluded.