Can Praying for People In Hell Save Them?
Some non-catholics say it’s not right to pray for the dead, moreover, Catholics believe that the dead may be in need of our prayers if they’re still in purgatory. We believe that some people, even after being forgiven here on earth, still need to expiate their sins in purgatory. They could not do so on earth, so God gives them a privilege to be cleansed. We do not actually believe that God gives people a privilege to repent after death, this isn’t the doctrine of the Catholic Church. Unrepentant sinners cannot change when they’re dead, their state of impenitence continues for all eternity. They will rebel against God as they did in life and cannot be saved again.
This state is called “hell”. A soul that has chosen to reject God’s light on earth and after death (hell), cannot be saved by any amount of prayer. So whenever we pray, we ask God for those who are still on their way to heaven, those who are still passing through the cleansing state of purgatory. We are united with them so our prayers affect them, their prayers affect us, and those in heaven intercede for them and for us as well. Our communion continues even when they are no more on earth. This is why the Church never stops praying for the dead. Also, Those in hell cannot be saved through our prayers, but since we cannot know the fate of specific individual we continue to intercede for them because we loved them in life and because we hope in the mercy of God which is bigger than all our sins.