QUAERITUR: Indulgences for Poor Souls, but cemetery is locked.

From a reader:

I pass a Catholic cemetery to and from work every day (in fact, it is the diocesan cemetery where my spouse and I bought plots). I want to stop and say prayers for the souls in Purgatory, especially November 1 – 8.

My problem is that the times I pass it, the gates are locked. Is it permissible for the plenary indulgences to pull alongside the fence and say the prayers from there? I can easily see through the fence into the cemetery but cannot physically enter it.

Sure!   Yes, you have, in fact, visited a cemetery.  However.  I would not just sit there in the car.  Get out.  Make it concrete.

That said, were a diocesan cemetery to be locked during this period when indulgences can be and should be sought… well… shame on them!

If it remains locked during this time, I would call the office of the diocese that sees to the care of cemeteries and ask about this.  I would follow up with a call to the bishop’s office.

If there is some sort of personnel problem, perhaps next year volunteers can be organized to help.  (Think off the top of my head.)

2 November doesn’t exactly sneak up on us, does it?


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. dzehnle says:

    If the cemetery is locked whenever your reader drives by, it is likely that he or she is going to and coming from work, which explain why the gates are locked, especially that now it is dark so early. There may be no shame needed at all, just better timing.

  2. Faith says:

    2 November doesn’t exactly sneak up on us, does it? Ha! It’s the same time every year!

  3. Supertradmum says:

    Most cemeteries have hours posted outside, such as nine to five. If one comes outside those hours in many places, the cemetery will be locked. This has been true in the Midwest for years and years.

    In England, years ago, sextons were on call at the cemeteries, as I was doing research as a doctoral student and was looking into graves of person involved in my studies. These men were helpful as to graves, etc.

    I have visited the grave of T. E. Lawrence three times in my life and each time the small cemetery gate was unlocked. However, someone in the village told me that if it was locked, the pub manager had a key. I wonder if this is still true.

  4. cathgrl says:

    9 to 5 hours are difficult when one works from 9 to 6. There’s a cemetery near my house with no gates, so it works.

  5. Imrahil says:

    That’ll be the day…

    when our reverend host is more lenient than I am.

    I more than once prayed before the closed cemetry looking through the bars… I surely hoped that God would look favorably on my prayer, and after all the indulgence would not have been for myself in any case (difficult to express); but as for the indulgence, being a favor of the Church distributed on the Church’s terms, I never really thought I had done the assigned work. If these walls had not always been so high, I’d perhaps have looked left, lokked right and then climbed over them.

    Once they apparently forgot to close a side-entrance…

    Thank you, Fr. Z!

  6. James Joseph says:

    Don’t people get in trouble when they try to talk to the bishop?

    Recently, I tried to see what the deal with a fella who was scheduled to come to my hometown. He is an oddity of sorts, being a liberal variety of sede vacantist priest, who was dismissed from the clerical state, but who also teaches at Boston College. He gives talks advocating for women’s ordination and ecclesiastical democracy.

    If you are curious, the dismissed priest uses his authority as a Catholic university professor to claim that there is no apostolic succession anywhere and there has been no pope since the early Church.

    I got no response from the number two man in the diocese.

  7. Tradster says:

    Thank you, Father.

  8. MaryL says:

    I am from New Zealand and recently moved to Australia, and I am dismayed that when you go to make a visit, all the churches are locked, and this is not only after business hours. The excuse is because thieves are going in and stealing things.

  9. sejoga says:

    2 November doesn’t exactly sneak up on us, does it?

    Now, how exactly do you propose that we should be able to keep track of just when November 2nd is going to come around, Father? I mean, really!

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