Doing away with purgatory


:confused: I was with my daughter at one of our communion/confirmation classes and the teacher told us she was listening to some abc radio station and the discussion was that the vatican was going to do away with purgatory. I’m at a real stumbling block with this one, because there is no word of purgatory in the bible.
Anyone feel free to go with this for me?



I’m thinking that there was a confusion. There have been some news reports about Limbo, but nothing about Purgatory. Maybe the teacher misheard? Limbo and Purgatory are not the same things.

Purgatory is doctrine. It is here to stay.:slight_smile:


The present discussion is in regards to the teaching on LIMBO, not purgatory. CCD teachers, I have noticed, very often lack basic disciplines and foundations of catholic teaching, so his/her confusion does not surprise me.

Right now I’m dealing with a First Communion teacher who proudly told all of the children that the bread is a “SYMBOL” of Jesus’ body. This was just after laying her hands on them and blessing them (there was no priest available, what ever was she to do?)

However, back to the topic at hand, the discussion is Limbo.

As for some back story on Purgatory…

Purgatory does exist within Jewish tradition to an extent. There are not a lot of teachings on the afterlife, but the general consensus for Jews is that there is no “hell” as Christians know it. Instead there is a place of punishment where you go until you have atoned for your sins. Basically, they have a hellish purgatory instead of a hell and purgatory. So the belief wasn’t just something Catholic scholars devised on their own (like Limbo), it had some tradition and a theological foundation.


Please explain the differences in each:)

Oh, and *where did *Limbo come from?


Purgatory is a stop some of us make on the way to heaven in order to get all cleaned up so we’re ready to meet God.

Limbo is a theological speculation as to the fate of those free from personal sin but who still have original sin (ie unbaptized infants.)


Well put. The thing to remember is this whole issue was cause for outcry. The church teaches that baptism is necessary for salvation. What then, becomes of unbaptized babies who had no opportunity to sin?

The thought of any unbaptized baby going to hell is a thought that I can imagine no one would like to even consider.

Limbo was a theological speculation. But ultimately, there is no need for such a speculation if you read the Catechism of the Catholic Church with regards to unbaptized infants…

1261 As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus’ tenderness toward children which caused him to say: "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,"64 allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church’s call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.

Essentially, it is not unreasonable that Jesus calls these children to him. But, at the same time that isn’t an open invitation to not baptize children.


Catholic Answers has some great tracts on Purgatory that do a great job explaining the doctrine.

One thing to remember when going to Holy Scripture for guidance, oftentimes a specific word is not mentioned - like Trinity - but the doctrine and/or teachings are still Biblically based.

When looking to Holy Scripture, remember that Catholics are taught to read the Bible in a literal sense and not as literalists. A great way of understanding the difference is with the phrase “raining cats and dogs”. A literalist would think, when reading that phrase, that kitties and puppies are falling from the sky whereas reading it with a literal sense would mean the reader would know that it means it was really raining a lot.


You’ve already received some helpful answers, so I’ll just add a little. There are two types of Limbo, the Limbo of the Fathers and the Limbo of the Infants. The first is the one where the good people went when they died before Christ came. But then Christ came and opened the gates of heaven. So those fathers went to heaven. The news has not been talking about this Limbo, I don’t think.

They are talking about the Limbo for babies who die without first being baptized. This limbo was slowly theorized over time, perhaps prompted by St. Augustine and his concepts of what would happen to babies, though he thought the babies would suffer. It was often understood that Limbo was an outer region of hell itself because in Limbo one is permanently stuck without the beatific vision. Usually you will hear descriptions that say the residents of Limbo are in a state of natural happiness, but not supernatural happiness. Limbo is a type of theological speculation. Limbo is not dogma nor defined.

Purgatory is a different concept. It has roots before the time of Christ. It is related to the idea that one can pray for the dead. Anyone who passes through there is going to heaven. Some people when they die go straight to heaven because they are pure. Others need to be purified first, so they experience purgation so that they are ready to go to heaven. Then, of course, there is hell. Purgatory has nothing to do with hell. Catholics often pray for the people who need purgation. This is prayer for the dead.

Purgatory is not a second chance. It is for people who die in a state of grace but still need purgation/purifying.


Besides, no one can “do away with” purgatory or anything else. It either is, or it isn’t, no matter what mortal beings say. And sometimes I wonder, in my little mind, how we can know for sure. Then I think that there are many mysteries we won’t know for sure until the time comes.:slight_smile:


purgatory cannot be done away with because it is an article of faith. Prayers for the dead have been cosidered righteous and holy since Abraham.


Jesus explicitly told us that we had to be baptised in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit to be saved. Jesus also taught that the Father loves us all and is perfectly just. Some early christians noted that some babies die before being baptized. Limbo was/is a theory that folks came up with to resolve the apparent contradiction between a God of perfect justice and Jesus’ words about the necessity of baptism.

As noted the current understanding of ‘baptism of desire’ eliminates the apparent contradiction without the need for something like Limbo.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit