Why do Catholics Believe in the Purgatory?

Non-Christian Catholics, more notably Evangelicals and Fundamentalists argue that the term “purgatory” is an unbiblical concept, of which invented by the Catholic Church to increase its income base in the Middle Ages. They also argued that the concept itself ran counter to the major tenets of Christ’s salvation of mankind from sin; that Christ’s death was only the requisite of man to eternal life. Purgatory was an unnecessary instrument of purification, unsupported by the Scriptures.

However, such assertion of the non-Catholic Christians (except the Orthodox Church who believes in the purgatory) is misguided by their fanatical stance on the Bible, sola scriptura. The Catholic Church asserts that the purgatory is a Biblical concept, an established tradition of the Church since its foundation, a necessary instrument for the purification of souls destined to heaven (by their faith through action), and the belief to which the Church Fathers guided their flocks.

These four pillars for arguing the existence of purgatory both in form and essence is a manifestation of the Church’s continued belief in sola verbum Dei (Word of God alone, as against sola scriptura or the Scriptures alone). The implication is that the concept of purgatory had its biblical roots from the time of Jewish prophets to the time of Jesus Christ, and that it was supported by the traditions of the Church.

Because it was the Word of God that manifests (Bible and Traditions) that purgatory exists, and that no contradiction had been detected by the Church Fathers regarding the redemptive act of Jesus Christ on the cross and the concept of purgatory, it can be said that the concept itself is a manifestation of divine origin, invented neither by the Church Fathers nor Pope Gregory the Great. The Church Fathers would argue for the necessity of purgatory as an instrument for removing the effects of sin, not sin itself. The soul saved must be clean, and not only declared clean. It must pass the test of fire.

Definition and Biblical Roots of Purgatory According to the Catholic Church, purgatory is a middle state, where purification is the final stage of sanctification, where those who have died undergo a period of expiation to remove all effects of mortal sin and all traces of unrepentant venial sin (Catholic Answers http://www. catholic. com/library/purgatory. asp) . Souls that are sent to the purgatory are declared to be clean, although the effects of sin must be removed as a requisite for perfection. Stains of sin will be removed by the purifying fires. Biblical passages that will support the existence of purgatory are presented below.

In 2 Macc. 12:43-46, Jews of the Old Testament believe that sacrifices for the dead by the living would certainly uplift the status of the dead (middle state). It reads, “And making a gathering, (Judas Maccabeus) sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead… It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins. ” Although Protestants deny the book as part of the Scriptures, hence blowing up the whole concept of purgatory, many passages in the New Testament proves its existence.

Luke 12:59 reads, “I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny”, indicating the necessity of the existence of purgatory. Matt. 12:32 reads, “Whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but he that shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world nor in the World to come”, connoting that there will be sins not forgiven in the life after this age, of which attainable only in the purification process. Lastly, St Paul made this issue clear when he wrote to the Corinthians the necessity of revealing each man’s work through the test of fire.

It reads, “each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire” (I Corinthians 3:13-15). Other biblical passages include 1 Pet. 3, 19, Rom. 5:3–5), Heb. 12:11, Hebrews 12:14, etc. This only proves that the concept of purgatory has biblical basis (Catholic Encyclopedia, Proofs of Purgatory).