The Vatican II Council states:
“The doctrine of purgatory clearly demonstrates that even when the guilt of sin has been taken away, punishment for it or the consequences of it may remain to be expiated or cleansed…[I]n purgatory the souls of those who died in the charity of God and truly repentant but who had not made satisfaction with adequate penance for their sins and omissions are cleansed after death with punishment designed to purge away their debt.” (Vol 2, 394).
“Sins must be expiated. This may be done on this earth through the sorrows, miseries and trials of this life and, above all through death. Otherwise the expiation must be made in the next life through fire and torments or purifying punishments…” (Vol 1, 63).
Purgatory is said to be a place (or a state) where sins which have not been discharged off on earth can be removed through fire and torments until a dead soul is totally purified of his sins and sent to heaven. What this means is, even though your sins are forgiven through Christ’s death, you must still suffer some punishment here in this world or in purgatory before the gates of heaven can open for you after death. Is this Biblical? Every Catholic looks forward to spending some unknown length of time in purgatory, but no one- even the pope- can know when his sins will be totally purged.
This doctrine is rife with problems:
I – Sin cannot be cleansed from the soul by any kind of suffering. Suffering may only temporarily alter a person’s attitude to sin, but once the pain is forgotten, the old tendencies return, because sins come from the heart (Mk 7:23). Until the heart is cleansed- by what? suffering? No- by the blood of Christ shed on the cross and renewed by God’s Spirit through faith in Christ, it will persist in sin.
II – Sins are cleansed by Christ (on earth) and not at a place of fire after death. The Bible declares that Christ “when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb 1:3), indicating that the purging is complete. One can only receive it or reject it. “The blood of Jesus Christ, [God’s] Son, cleanseth [purges] us from all sin” (1Jh 1:7) and “without the shedding of blood is no remission [of sin]” (Heb 9:22). But purgatory is said to be not a place of blood shedding but a place of “purifying fire” Can fire remove sin? The only possible purging of our sins was accomplished by Christ and its effected on the heart by grace when received by faith.
III – The Vatican II quoted above speaks of “adequate penance.” What is adequate penance? No one knows and Rome has never defined it. This is why Catholics have to crawl on their knees at Marian shrines, whip themselves, wear hairshirts to ‘atone’ for their sins and by-pass purgatory through suffering. This reflects a rejection of Christ’s perfect substitutionary sacrifice on our behalf. God made Jesus “to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2Cor 5:21). And “by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (Heb 10:14). Since we have been perfected for ever by Christ’s sacrifice, there is no “work” or suffering of ours that can cleanse our sins. The perfect work of Christ on the cross puts out the mythical flames of purgatory.
IV- “The Church offers the Pascal Sacrifice for the Dead so that…the dead may be helped by prayers and the living may be consoled by hope. Among Masses for the Dead is the Funeral Mass which holds the first place in importance…” (Vatican Council II, Austin Flannery O.P. 2, 205).
Masses are said to help the dead by shortening their time in purgatory. Thus, Catholics have to pay priests to perform Masses on behalf of their dead loved ones. A funeral Mass has to be infused with big money to call in big shot priests and Catholic dignitaries. Like an Irish saying goes: “High money, High Mass, Low money, Low Mass, No money, no Mass!”
The Catholic church has never been able to define how much of reduction each Mass would grant a soul or when exactly the souls would leave purgatory, so the money has to keep flowing in to the men in robes for more Masses. That’s why some Catholics still hold Masses for parents who have died over 30 years ago.
While the Lord said its hard for a man who trusts in his riches to enter heaven, Catholicism teaches the opposite, that with money you can have a lesser burning time in purgatory (Mt 19:23-24).
Ps 49:6-7 says for “those who trust in their wealth…No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him.” If money cannot redeem a living man, how can it redeem the dead? The fruits of this doctrine have paved the way for priestly control and exploitations. Purgatory is not just a lie, its also a very golden lie. Its “the goldmine of the priesthood.”
V- Rom 6:23 says “The wages of sin is death [i.e eternal separation from God]” not a limited time in purgatory. Since no one can escape from hell, “working off” the penalty of sins is impossible. We would be lost forever apart from Christ’s sacrifice for our sins. We are finite beings and could never pay the infinite penalty that Christ paid. Being the God-Man, only He could pay the price.
VI- Purgatory implies that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross (which “is finished” Jh 19:30) was insufficient to purge sin, but the Catholic Mass, which allegedly repeats that sacrifice can do the purging. They claim Christ’s sacrifice is not enough to get us to heaven, but the forgiven sinner must suffer torment to add to Christ’s sacrifice to be purified. So on one hand you must suffer to expiate your sins and at the same time, you can avoid suffering if enough Masses are said, you would be purged and have your sins expiated. This is a fatal contradiction. What makes the sacrifice of Christ less effectual than its alleged repetitions by priests?