From a reader…
Is it appropriate to have Masses said for deceased non-Catholics? What about Gregorian Masses?
You are in our prayers! Thank you for your time and your ministry.
It is praiseworthy and a work of mercy to pray for the dead. Consult the Catechism of the Catholic Church 958, 1032.
Can. 901 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law says: “A priest is free to apply the Mass for anyone, living or dead” That means “anyone”, Catholic or non-Catholic. Once upon a time there were restrictions on Masses for people who were excommunicated at the time of their death, but that no longer applies. You can have Masses said for the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre if you wish and priests are free to accept the intention and stipend. I’m sure he would appreciate the lift. And if you can have one Mass said for a non-Catholic, you can have more than one Mass said. Yes, you can have Gregorian Masses said. (For more on Gregorian Masses – HERE)
There is one restriction, however, the name of a non-Catholic is not to be spoken aloud during the Eucharistic Prayer of Mass. See the Ecumenical Directory, 121.
So, the bottom line is, yes, Masses can be offered for the intention of any person, living or dead, Catholic or non-Catholic.
And, to be clear, having a Mass said for the intention of a person is not the same thing as having a Mass said for what that person intends or intended! We pray “for the Pope’s intention(s)”. That means that we pray for what the Pope intends for us to pray for. However, when we have a Mass said for a person’s intention, that means that we are praying for that person’s well-being, in this life or in the life to come. We use the word “intention” differently in different contexts. Therefore, should someone want to have Masses said for a very wicked person who is still alive it might be better – depending on who that person is and where you are – to put in the parish bulletin “Special Intention”.