A Question about Purgatory from a Newbie


#1

Hi,

I’m new around here. I had a question. I have been reading God and the World by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Peter Seewald

In it the Pope (then Cardinal) says of Purgatory:
"There will be few people whose lives are pure and fulfilled in all respects…In any case, we need a final cleansing, a cleaning b y fire, to be exact, in which they gaze of Christ, so to say, burns us free from everything, and only under this purifying gaze are we, as it were, fit to be with God and able, then, to make our home with him.

Purgatory basically means that God can put the pieces back together. That he can cleanse us in such a way that we are able to be with him and can stand there in the fullness of life.

I would say that from the human point of view one of the functions of purgatory is to get rid of these particularist attitudes. It strips off from one person what is unbearable and from another the inability to bear certain things, so that in each of them a pure heart is revealed, and we can see that we all belong together n one enormous symphony of being.

As far as the Buddhists are concerned…even here, though in a quite different way of looking at things-is to be found something like a hope for an ultimate rightness of being."

God and the World (Ignatius 2002), 129-30.

I’m confused because this goes against what I’ve always heard about purgatory. Also I looked at what some councils said about purgatory and this doesn’t seem to jibe. Here’s what I found about what Trent said:

The Council of Trent
The Sixth Session

CANON XXX.-If any one saith, that, after the grace of Justification has been received, to every penitent sinner the guilt is remitted, and the debt of eternal punishment is blotted out in such wise, that there remains not any debt of temporal punishment to be discharged either in this world, or in the next in Purgatory, before the entrance to the kingdom of heaven can be opened (to him); let him be anathema.

It seems as though the Cardinal is saying that purgatory serves two or three functions. It “basically” means that God can put the pieces back together. Likewise, it’s an extension of sanctification—a finish process that completes the work of sanctification. Finally, it’s a leveling or democratizing process.

Ratzinger speaks of purgatory as being a place not only of Catholics. Indeed, it holds out hope for the Buddhist.

This seems to go against traditional Catholic dogma, according to which purgatory is reserved for Roman Catholics who died in a state of grace, and are consigned to purgatory in order to remit the penal debt of temporal guilt.

Is this a logical development of dogma? It seems to run counter to traditional dogma.

I’m confused, Can anyone explain this?

Thanks,
Dick


#2

Traditional dogma has two, non-contraditory parts and there are threads that explain this in more detail. There is no salvation outside the Church is dogma. Yet there is the understanding of invincible ignorance as well, which Pope Pius IX mentions in his Encyclical "On Promotion of False Doctrines:

papalencyclicals.net/Pius09/p9quanto.htm
7. Here, too, our beloved sons and venerable brothers, it is again necessary to mention and censure a very grave error entrapping some Catholics who believe that it is possible to arrive at eternal salvation although living in error and alienated from the true faith and Catholic unity. Such belief is certainly opposed to Catholic teaching. There are, of course, those who are struggling with invincible ignorance about our most holy religion. Sincerely observing the natural law and its precepts inscribed by God on all hearts and ready to obey God, they live honest lives and are able to attain eternal life by the efficacious virtue of divine light and grace. Because God knows, searches and clearly understands the minds, hearts, thoughts, and nature of all, his supreme kindness and clemency do not permit anyone at all who is not guilty of deliberate sin to suffer eternal punishments.

Note the difference between “alienated from thetrue faith” and “struggling with invincible ignorance”. The Baltimore Catechism mentions “invincible ignorance” but says it is very rare that anyone would be saved who is in such a state and that it would mostly be baptized infants. However I would consider such things to be speculative.

Scripturally here are some cases to consider from a post I wrote in another thread…

It is a mistake to say they were saved by their ignorance. Rather they were saved by the truth that God plants on all men’s souls and the truth that he gives them the grace to understand. They are simply not culpable for what they are ignornant of.

Romans 2:15
13] For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.
14] When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.
15] They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them
16] on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

Biblical considerations:

The Bible gives us many “windows” in to the answer to this question. The Apostles want Jesus to cast fire down upon a man casting out demons in Jesus name. The man is not one of them. Yet Jesus said “those who are not against us are for us” and recommended leniency. The three wise men were not Jews or Christians, yet had some knowledge of God. God’s spirit led them. The Good Samaritan was held up as an exmaple of proper Christian spirit, even though the Samaritans were pagans who included the God of Israel in their many Gods. Cornelius was neither Jew nor Christian, yet was said to be a “God-fearing and righteous man” BEFORE Peter came to him. I don’t believe the God-fearing and righteous go to hell.

With regard to ignorance, it should be noted that in Luke 12 Jesus says “to the one who knew, he will be treated with the unbelievers, but to the one who did not know, he will recieve but few lashes.”. Luke 12 around v. 48.

Blessings


#3

By the way, welcome. :slight_smile:


#4

[quote=Richard_Hurtz]As far as the Buddhists are concerned…even here, though in a quite different way of looking at things-is to be found something like a hope for an ultimate rightness of being."

[/quote]

Can you cite ALL the sentence here please?

Thanks!


#5

[quote=thessalonian]Traditional dogma has two, non-contraditory parts and there are threads that explain this in more detail. There is no salvation outside the Church is dogma. Yet there is the understanding of invincible ignorance as well, which Pope Pius IX mentions in his Encyclical "On Promotion of False Doctrines:

papalencyclicals.net/Pius09/p9quanto.htm
7. Here, too, our beloved sons and venerable brothers, it is again necessary to mention and censure a very grave error entrapping some Catholics who believe that it is possible to arrive at eternal salvation although living in error and alienated from the true faith and Catholic unity. Such belief is certainly opposed to Catholic teaching. There are, of course, those who are struggling with invincible ignorance about our most holy religion. Sincerely observing the natural law and its precepts inscribed by God on all hearts and ready to obey God, they live honest lives and are able to attain eternal life by the efficacious virtue of divine light and grace. Because God knows, searches and clearly understands the minds, hearts, thoughts, and nature of all, his supreme kindness and clemency do not permit anyone at all who is not guilty of deliberate sin to suffer eternal punishments.

Note the difference between “alienated from thetrue faith” and “struggling with invincible ignorance”. The Baltimore Catechism mentions “invincible ignorance” but says it is very rare that anyone would be saved who is in such a state and that it would mostly be baptized infants. However I would consider such things to be speculative.

Scripturally here are some cases to consider from a post I wrote in another thread…

It is a mistake to say they were saved by their ignorance. Rather they were saved by the truth that God plants on all men’s souls and the truth that he gives them the grace to understand. They are simply not culpable for what they are ignornant of.

With regard to ignorance, it should be noted that in Luke 12 Jesus says “to the one who knew, he will be treated with the unbelievers, but to the one who did not know, he will recieve but few lashes.”. Luke 12 around v. 48.

Blessings
[/quote]

Thank you for the detailed response.

I’m not so much confused by the dogma so much as Cardinal Ratzinger’s explanation.

First I don’t understand where the principle of Buddhists being in Purgatory comes from. To me it is one thing if someone was baptised as a Chistian, they believe in Jesus Christ. So what Vatican II said seems to make sense in that other Christian Traditions approach the true church. However, does that mean that Buddhists, Muslims, etc… that die unbaptised are not truly lost?

It seems that this view offers Purgatory as a second chance rather than a final place of cleansing the faithful.

Thanks for your help


#6

[quote=Richard_Hurtz]However, does that mean that Buddhists, Muslims, etc… that die unbaptised are not truly lost?
[/quote]

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church :

"How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:

Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.

This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation. " (CCC, 846-847)

It seems that this view offers Purgatory as a second chance rather than a final place of cleansing the faithful.

No, the Cardinal speaks about “a final cleansing, a cleaning by fire”.


#7

[quote=Richard_Hurtz]Thank you for the detailed response.

I’m not so much confused by the dogma so much as Cardinal Ratzinger’s explanation.

First I don’t understand where the principle of Buddhists being in Purgatory comes from. To me it is one thing if someone was baptised as a Chistian, they believe in Jesus Christ. So what Vatican II said seems to make sense in that other Christian Traditions approach the true church. However, does that mean that Buddhists, Muslims, etc… that die unbaptised are not truly lost?

It seems that this view offers Purgatory as a second chance rather than a final place of cleansing the faithful.

Thanks for your help
[/quote]

There is no second chance for anyone. We all have one life and one chance. Purgatory is like the final cleansing of the soul.

The Church does not, and has not ever taught that all Buddhists and all Muslims are damned if they die without Baptism. They do, and have taught Baptism of Desire as well. I think this can be seen in the Catechism of Trent and The Catechism of Pius X. It can also be seen in the writings of St. Ambrose and others. It may be, though, that a large amount of them are lost.


#8

[quote=jimmy]There is no second chance for anyone. We all have one life and one chance. Purgatory is like the final cleansing of the soul.

The Church does not, and has not ever taught that all Buddhists and all Muslims are damned if they die without Baptism. They do, and have taught Baptism of Desire as well. I think this can be seen in the Catechism of Trent and The Catechism of Pius X. It can also be seen in the writings of St. Ambrose and others. It may be, though, that a large amount of them are lost.
[/quote]

Again, thanks for your thoughtful answers.

One last thought on this. Maybe I was taught incorrectly or I misunderstood something, but I thought that Purgatory was reserved for Roman Catholics who had died in a state of grace and were consigned to purgatory in order to remit the penal debt of temporal guilt.

Is that incorrect then?

Again many thanks for your patience.
Dick


#9

[quote=Richard_Hurtz]Again, thanks for your thoughtful answers.

One last thought on this. Maybe I was taught incorrectly or I misunderstood something, but I thought that Purgatory was reserved for Roman Catholics who had died in a state of grace and were consigned to purgatory in order to remit the penal debt of temporal guilt.

Is that incorrect then?

Again many thanks for your patience.
Dick
[/quote]

O’K let’s try it this way. Those who are in purgatory we may have known as budhists, etc. in this life, but before they enter purgatory they will have faced Christ in all his glory and will have been illuminated by the light of truth. They will have th opportunity to accept or reject him. If they reject him they will be in hell. If they accept him they will be in purgatory certainly and they will no longer be Budhists because they will understand and believe the Catholic faith. They will have the dedt of temporal guilt to pay as well.

Another understanding is that anyone who has not willfully rejected the Church can be viewed as informally joined to her, so that they are in effect Catholic.


#10

I suggest you read over what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say about the eternal and temporal “punishments” of sin. I think it will help you connect the ideas of Trent with those of Cardinal Ratzinger.

The punishments of sin

1472. To understand this doctrine and practice of the Church, it is necessary to understand that sin has a double consequence. Grave sin deprives us of communion with God and therefore makes us incapable of eternal life, the privation of which is called the “eternal punishment” of sin. On the other hand every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory. This purification frees one from what is called the “temporal punishment” of sin. These two punishments must not be conceived of as a kind of vengeance inflicted by God from without, but as following from the very nature of sin. A conversion which proceeds from a fervent charity can attain the complete purification of the sinner in such a way that no punishment would remain.


#11

I am not entirely sure, what the present day Catholic church says of the heathen who worship false Gods, but from what I read of the early fathers, only those who turned to Christ in faith and were received into the Holy Catholic church were considered eligible for heaven.

                                Even at that, the early saints had to be ACTIVELY living their faith throughout their Christian lives til they died and then if remaining sin was on their souls, that sin had to be purged, before they could enter heaven.. To say a Muslim or a Buddhist can enter heaven without any response to Christ and the sacraments of the Catholic church, is in my opinion not true and never was acceptable. Do all religious roads then lead to heaven or is their only one road, Christ and his holy church? You tell me?

#12

[quote=piety101]I am not entirely sure, what the present day Catholic church says of the heathen who worship false Gods, but from what I read of the early fathers, only those who turned to Christ in faith and were received into the Holy Catholic church were considered eligible for heaven.

Even at that, the early saints had to be ACTIVELY living their faith throughout their Christian lives til they died and then if remaining sin was on their souls, that sin had to be purged, before they could enter heaven… To say a Muslim or a Buddhist can enter heaven without any response to Christ and the sacraments of the Catholic church, is in my opinion not true and never was acceptable. Do all religious roads then lead to heaven or is their only one road, Christ and his holy church? You tell me?
[/quote]

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church :

"How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:

Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.

This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation. " (CCC, 846-847)

You can also read this :

On Salvation Outside the Catholic Church
by Fr. John A. Hardon, s.j.

ic.net/~erasmus/RAZ315.HTM


#13

Sarah Jane

                  Well, I see that there is a vast difference what our modern day Catechism teaches and what the early Fathers taught. Thanks for the post.The CC now says in so many words, that the heathen may gain eternal SALVATION if they are seeking God in their own way? Huh? Salvation WITHOUT Christ?  I can't believe the church now teaches that.

#14

posted by piety101

Well, I see that there is a vast difference what our modern day Catechism teaches and what the early Fathers taught. Thanks for the post.The CC now says in so many words, that the heathen may gain eternal SALVATION if they are seeking God in their own way? Huh? Salvation WITHOUT Christ? I can’t believe the church now teaches that.

The CCC has not changed the teaching at all. There has just been further understanding of that which has been revealed. One still must be a member of the Catholic Church, the understanding of who MAY be a member has grown.


#15

Thanks Maria for clearing that up. I thought for a minute, that the liberals might have taken over in the Vatican. God bless.


closed #16

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