Has the Catholic Church the power and the means at her disposal, to free everyone from purgatory and abolish it?

Of course no one can answer the above question without some basic knowledge about indulgences, the Treasury of the Church and the Holy Father’s power of binding and loosing authority.

This post is a short summary of the Catholic Encyclopedia INDULGENSES:

An indulgence is REMISSION of the TEMPORAL PUNISHMENT due in God’s justice, to sin that has been forgiven, which remission is granted by the Church in the exercise of the power of the keys, through the application of the superabundant merits of Christ on the cross.

An indulgence can be PLENARY or PARTIAL.
A plenary indulgence expiates ALL temporal punishment for sin.
A partial indulgence expiates a PART of the temporal punishment for sin.

BASIS OF THE DOCTRINE OF INDULGENCE

An essential element in indulgences is the application to one person (sinner/penitent) of the satisfaction performed by another (performed by Christ on the cross for the sins of the whole world).

This above one of the most important keys to understand indulgences.

If we as sinners would be able to pay to God the father directly (bypassing Christ’s merit on the cross) the reparation/satisfaction for our sins by our own merit, Christ wouldn’t have to die to pay the reparation for our sins and the Church’s Treasury would be meaningless because we wouldn’t need it.

THE TREASURY OF THE CHURCH

Christ, as St. John declares in his First Epistle 2:2, “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the whole world.”

Since the satisfaction of Christ is infinite, it constitutes an inexhaustible fund which is MORE THAN SUFFICIENT to cover the indebtedness of the whole world contracted by sin.

The Church herself is not the absolute owner, but simply the administratrix, of the superabundant merits of Christ on the cross WHICH THE TREASURY OF THE CHURCH CONTAINS.

This treasure entrusted to Blessed Peter, the key-bearer, and his successors, that they might, for just and reasonable causes, DISTRIBUTE IT TO THE FAITHFUL in full or in partial remission of the temporal punishment due to sin.

An indulgence is obtained through the Church who, by virtue of the power of binding and loosing (which power has no restriction), intervenes in favor of individual Christians and opens for them the Church’s Treasury to obtain Christ’s merit on the cross to expiate the temporal punishments due for sins.

To put it simply:
Indulgence places at the penitent’s disposal THE MERITS OF CHRIST ON THE CROSS, form the "Treasury of the Church."
An indulgence is valid both in the tribunal of the Church and in the tribunal of God.

This means: Releases the penitent from his indebtedness to God by releases from the temporal punishment.

In granting an indulgence, the grantor (pope or bishop) does not offer his personal merits in lieu of what God demands from the sinner.

In applying them, she keeps in view both the design of God’s mercy and the demands of God’s justice.

She therefore determines the amount of each concession, as well as the conditions which the penitent must fulfill if he would gain the indulgence.

Continued

Continuation

THE POWER TO GRANT INDULGENCES

Once it is admitted that Christ left the Church the power to forgive sins extends both to the guilt and to the eternal punishment, it plainly follows that the Church can also free the penitent from the temporal punishment.

This becomes clearer, however, when we consider the amplitude of the power granted to Peter (Matthew 16:19):

“I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatever you bind on earth, it will be bound in heaven: and whatever you loose on earth, will be loosed in heaven.”

(Cf. Matthew 18:18, where like power is conferred on all the Apostles.)

No limit is placed upon this power of loosing, “the power of the keys”, as it is called; it must, therefore, extend to any and ALL bonds contracted by sin, including the penalty NO LESS than the guilt.

Consequently, to make indulgences (Christ’s merit on the cross) AVAILABLE FOR THE FAITHFUL, there is required an exercise of authority, which alone can determine in what way, on what terms, and to what extent, indulgences (Christ’s merit on the cross) may be granted.

When the Church, therefore, by an indulgence given freely or conditions attached to the indulgence which the penitent must fulfill (1478, works of devotion, penance, and charity)], remits temporal punishment due to sin that has been forgiven.

Her action, according to the declaration of Christ, is ratified in heaven.

CCC 1478
a. “…Thus the Church does not want simply to come to the aid of these Christians,
b. but also to spur them to works of devotion, penance, and charity.”

To clearly understand indulgences and the Treasury of the Church, it is helpful to see some examples of the way the Holy Father grants Christ’s merit on the cross to the Christians from the Treasury of the Church;

a. at the case of Baptism,

b. at the case of a plenary indulgence,

c. at the case of the suffering people in purgatory.

Continued

Continuation

To clearly understand indulgences and the Treasury of the Church we can view as follows:

THE WAY THE HOLY FATHER GRANTS CHRIST’S MERIT ON THE CROSS FROM THE CHURCH TREASURY AT BAPTISM

For the candidate at Baptism from the Church’s Treasury the Holy Father freely gives Christ’s merit on the cross to expiate; all sins, and eternal and temporal punishments.

When all sins and all punishments expiated at baptism, God gives the baptized an INSTANT cleansing and then he is ready to go to Heaven in heavenly glory.
If he dies before he has committed an act of sin he is bypassing purgatory and instantly goes to Heaven.

THE WAY THE HOLY FATHER GRANTS CHRIST’S MERIT ON THE CROSS FROM THE CHURCH TREASURY WHEN A PLENARY INDULGENCE IS OBTAINED

  1. When we obtain indulgences, in reality, we obtain Christ’s merit on the cross (which is our reparation payment to God for our temporal punishment, paid by Christ on the cross) and CHRIST’S MERIT expiates our temporal punishment.

  2. When we obtain a PLENARY indulgence:
    We obtain enough Christ’s merit on the cross, which pays the reparation in full to God the Father for all our temporal punishment.

  3. As all temporal punishment expiated God gives us an instant cleansing in the same way He has given us an instant cleansing at our Baptism.

  4. If we obtained a plenary indulgence and we die before we sin again, we bypass purgatory and we go instantly to Heaven in heavenly glory.

  5. If everyone would expiate their temporal punishment with indulgences (which is theologically possible) purgatory would be needless because no one would have to go to purgatory.

THE WAY THE HOLY FATHER GRANTS CHRIST’S MERIT ON THE CROSS FROM THE CHURCH TREASURY FOR THE SUFFERING PEOPLE IN PURGATORY

  1. If we fail to expiate our temporal punishment in this life with indulgences, we will suffer the pains of our temporal punishment in purgatory.

  2. When our pains and suffering in purgatory is equal with our temporal punishment, Christ’s merit from the Church Treasury released for us which pays the reparation to God the Father for our temporal punishment.

  3. At this point, God gives us an instant cleansing in the same way then He has given us an instant cleansing at our baptism or if we would obtained a plenary indulgence.

  4. As we see above our cleansing in Baptism, at the point we obtain a plenary indulgence and at the point in purgatory we have suffered our temporal punishment, works in the same way with the same principle.

In all three cases God gives us an instant cleansing.

In the case of purgatory: (NOT for our pains and sufferings in purgatory) but by Christ’s merit on the cross which the Holy Father has granted to us from the Treasury of the Church at the point when our pains and suffering in the purgatory was EQUAL with our temporal punishment.

At this point, Christ’s merit on the cross has paid the reparation to God the Father for our temporal punishment and God has given us an INSTANT cleansing which made us ready to go to Heaven in heavenly glory.

If our pains and sufferings could bypass Christ’s merit on the cross and could DIRECTLY pay to God the Father the reparation for our sins we wouldn’t need the Church treasury and also Christ died for nothing because we could save ourselves.

My question is; In the light of the above facts and examples:
Can we conclude?

The Catholic Church has the power and the means at her disposal, to instantly set free everyone from purgatory and instantly abolish purgatory.

God bless.

Christian

Can indulgences be acquired in advance and stored up for lessening the temporal punishment of future sins?

Or is it the case that an indulgence deals only with the temporal punishment required for sins already committed at the time the indulgence is received?

Please tell me how I can obtain indulgences.

Plenary Indulgence example:

Confession.
Communion.
Detachment to sin.
Prayers for the Pope.
Rosary in church.

Partial Indulgence example.

Confession.
Communion.
Prayers for Pope.
Rosary at home.

Thanks. It seems very complicated, so many conditions in order to receive an indulgence, how do I know if I have venial sins or not? How do i know the extent of indulgence? How do I know if any suffering I am experiencing is due to temporal punishment, or just due to being on this planet?

No.

No.
This would be one of the things only God could do. The Catholic Church for example couldn’t raise someone from the dead by its own act.

Hello Randy,

a. In our days this is not a possibility.

b. An indulgence is REMISSION of the TEMPORAL PUNISHMENT to sin that has been forgiven, which remission is granted by the Church in the exercise of the power of the keys, through the application of the superabundant merits of Christ on the cross.

God bless.

Christian

That’s an interesting question. Based on what you quoted, and assuming that the article is entirely accurate (many of its claims are not backed up by references to official Church documents), I see no reason why the Church couldn’t instantly set free everyone who is currently in Purgatory.
However, I also see nothing that would indicate that indulgences can even theoretically be applied to future sins, so I don’t think the Church could abolish Purgatory.

Not really. Each the steps to receive an indulgence are usually clearly spelled out.

how do I know if I have venial sins or not?

Are you human? Then you have venial sins because all sins are venial unless they meet the three conditions necessary for a sin to be mortal.

How do i know the extent of indulgence?

Simple. The “extent” of the indulgence is usually listed along with the instructions for obtaining it.

How do I know if any suffering I am experiencing is due to temporal punishment, or just due to being on this planet?

You don’t. And further, why do you think there is even a difference? :wink:

Involved multi-pronged question there … but …

The Church has inestimable power, given it by Christ. And probably the means (per the power) too. Through prayer it does help free souls in Purgatory. Instantly? Some details are not known to us. Abolishing Purgatory?:confused:

It certainly has not had the inclination. Not to do THAT anyway. Helping souls to heaven or the repose of their souls is a different matter. :slight_smile: One day Purgatory will be empty anyway … and the Church will have been a part of that. It must be remembered that Purgatory is accomplishing what it is meant to do. Satan would abolish it if he had the power and got the souls, I think. As it is, the holy souls there never go to hell, but will go to heaven. Not instantly though.

Can one apply a plenary indulgence to a departed soul? That’d be pretty “Instant” on the individual level. :hmmm:

That question as I recall was put forth as a sort of … (hmm … either an entertaining conundrum posited by a “reformer” to give his debate opponents some grief … or (it seems to me) a snide dismissal of the doctrine from a person who did not believe in it anymore). Luther posited something like this question … more to the end of accusing the Pope of being insincere and just wanting money for indulgences.

WHY might the Church be so disinclined over the years?

Well. Purgatory exists and God has His reasons.

Nothing unclean can enter heaven. Purging and purification can be seen in scriptures as the temporary (for those in it) place or time when " … every penny shall be paid" (Jesus), or as part of the Judgement every soul will face, where some are “saved, yet as through fire” or as a part of heaven itself (the angel touches a burning coal from God’s altar to purge the sin from the lips of the prophet Isaiah and declares “your sin is purged.” Whereupon the prophet stops agonizing over his “unclean lips” and is able to say to the Lord “Here I Am …” without finding heaven a place where he doesn’t belong per his conscience anymore.

It won’t happen … but per the IF of it … if the Church considered doing it. It might not be so charitable. Leaving souls unpurged might cheat them from ever achieving the beatific vision in the manner that they would have otherwise.

Or imagine Isaiah IN heaven but forever tormented by his unclean lips.

ISAIAH Chapter 6

1 In the year King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, with the train of his garment filling the temple.

2 Seraphim were stationed above; each of them had six wings: with two they veiled their faces, with two they veiled their feet, and with two they hovered aloft.

3 “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts!” they cried one to the other. “All the earth is filled with his glory!”

4 At the sound of that cry, the frame of the door shook and the house was filled with smoke.

5 Then I said, “Woe is me, I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, holding an ember which he had taken with tongs from the altar.

7 He touched my mouth with it. “See,” he said, “now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed, ***your sin purged.***”

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?”

“Here I am,” I said; “send me!”

What the Church DOES do is pray for the repose of souls. Isaiah WAS in heaven … but it didn’t FEEL like heaven to him! Until after the purge.

Even on Earth babies cry when they are born. They too are in a better place really. Some babies might be rich peoples’ babies and instantly heir to the good life. They cry at first anyway, not knowing this.

I often wondered if some of what Purgatory is (and being “Born Again” is) is a BIG change that will startle us all … no matter how prepared we think we were to encountering it. Being born again may be like that narrow door to salvation Jesus alludes to … where some will not be strong enough. Or maybe they need help (just as most of us needed on the day we were born). The Church prays. Prayer is powerful and does not return to the Lord void.

Purgatory seems to be a doctrine emphasized more by the Church’s critics than the Church itself. Per the Church … Purgatory is NOT a destination, but place or time of purification unto admittance to heaven and eternal rest in the presence of the Lord.
That is … it is not hell nor neverending … however unpleasant the purgation might be.

We can pray for the holy souls in Purgatory to be released. Right now. We do so as part of the body of Christ (and not apart from Him) for those suspicious of the Church and its powers.

It seems you misunderstand indulgences. At the very least, you conflate indulgences granted through the Church with the Sacrament of Baptism…

No. Baptism does not work by virtue of the pope; it works solely by virtue of God’s grace. You are mistaken.

If he dies before he has committed an act of sin he is bypassing purgatory and instantly goes to Heaven.

One who is without sin does not “bypass purgatory”, as if he’s playing a cosmic game of Monopoly. Rather, he has no need of purgation.

  1. If everyone would expiate their temporal punishment with indulgences (which is theologically possible) purgatory would be needless because no one would have to go to purgatory.

This presumes that all die with all of their sin already forgiven. Inasmuch as that would seem to not be the case, we can’t assert that “purgatory [is] needless”.

Hello Mark,

a. Those quotes what I have quoted really common knowledge and very basic.

b. Mark, in my opinion, you are perfectly correct.

c. Indulgences cannot be applied for future sins.
To abolish purgatory indulgences don’t need to apply for future sins at all.

An indulgence is obtained through the Church who, by virtue of the power of binding and loosing (which power has no restriction), intervenes in favor of individual Christians and opens for them the Church’s Treasury to obtain Christ’s merit on the cross to expiate the temporal punishments due for sins.

What do you think Mark?

What would happen if the Holy Father would decide (he has the power); from now on I will give every Christian who dies in the state of grace, at the point of their death, a free gift of plenary indulgence (which is Christ’s merit on the cross) from the Treasury of the Church?

The above question also addressed to every member of the CAF.

Thanks in advance.

God bless.

Christian

Hello Gorgias,

  1. I know; for the candidate at the Sacrament of Baptism Christ’s merit on the cross is freely given.

  2. I agree, Baptism works solely by virtue of God’s grace, paid by Christ’s merit on the cross.
    If Christ’s merit comes from the Treasure of the Church or not, makes no difference.

  3. Do you think Gorgias; the purgatory gives more purgation than the purgation a plenary indulgence gives?

  4. Since the satisfaction of Christ is infinite, it constitutes an inexhaustible fund which is MORE THAN SUFFICIENT to cover the indebtedness of the whole world contracted by sin.

An indulgence is obtained through the Church who, by virtue of the power of binding and loosing (which power has no restriction), intervenes in favor of individual Christians and opens for them the Church’s Treasury to obtain Christ’s merit on the cross to expiate the temporal punishments due for sins.

What do you think Gorgias?

What would happen if the Holy Father would decide (he has the power); from now on I will give every Christian who dies in the state of grace, at the point of their death, a free gift of plenary indulgence (which is Christ’s merit on the cross and it is an inexhaustible fund) from the Treasury of the Church?

Thanks in advance.

God bless.

Christian

That, at least the way you phrased it, still wouldn’t abolish purgatory, since it’s restricting the gift to Christians. But I suppose something along those lines could work.

ourladyswarriors.org/indulge/norms.htm#norm 34
Yes it’s clearly spelled out, but it’s not very simple to understand. So many conditions to the extent you don’t know if you are fulfilling all of them fully or partially…

Are you human? Then you have venial sins because all sins are venial unless they meet the three conditions necessary for a sin to be mortal.

“It is further required that all attachment to sin, even venial sin, be absent.” So let’s say I go to confession, I don’t even know if I have venial sins from the moment of confession to the moment of trying to receive the indulgence. I mean, having one bad thought or look and that’s a venial sin, unless uncontrolled sins are not even venial sins. Temptations are not sin, but what about thoughts that do not come from the heart, but from Satan?

Simple. The “extent” of the indulgence is usually listed along with the instructions for obtaining it.

Yes it’s either partial or plenary, what does partial mean.

You don’t. And further, why do you think there is even a difference? :wink:

There is no difference between suffering due to temporal punishment and just from being on this planet? Then what is the point of temporal punishment? If you can receive just plain suffering at any time.

Problem:

Amen I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven. Matthew 18:18 Douay-Rheims

(emphasis added).

First, and most obvious, the power or authority to “bind and loose” is limited to “…upon [the] earth” (see above emphasis)–which places purgatory, outside of the Church’s ‘jurisdiction’ if you will, on its face. (NB: this expressly contradicts OP’s assertion that the B&L’ing authority has no restrictions; that’s patently wrong–it has a very clear and express limitation–to earthy existence).

Second, to dispense with purgatory, even if it were within her authority, would serve only to sentence the souls therein, to hell, as purgatory serves to prepare the unworthy-at-the-time of-death, but Heaven-bound soul, for Heaven; eliminate that, and you leave those souls forever ‘unworthy’ of Heaven.

Third, purgatory was not invented or created by the Catholic Church; it was discerned, and/or discovered, if you will, through divine revelation (in scripture, among other sources). As such, it exists, according to God’s Will; hence it’s not hers (the Church’s) to do away with.

To synthesize the above, the Church has no authority to introduce Sin into Heaven, and Heaven and Sin are mutually exclusive. Purgatory exists that the sanctified Elect, who are subsequently stained by sin (presumably, venial–and remain so at the time of their death–i.e.–beyond their earthly existence) may be cleansed thereof, that they may be made worthy of Heaven; and the Church’s authority to ‘bind and loose’ is limited to ‘…upon [the] earth’. Hence, while she may seek (read: petition) to have indulgences from her ‘treasury’ applied to the souls in purgatory, it is well beyond her B&L’ing authority, to mandate such.

JMHO.

This passage from the Catholic Answers tract on indulgences seems relevant to the discussion:

The Church cannot wipe out, with a stroke of the pen, so to speak, everyone’s temporal punishments because their remission depends on the dispositions of the persons who suffer those temporal punishments. Just as repentance and faith are needed for the remission of eternal penalties, so they are needed for the remission of temporal penalties. Pope Paul VI stated, “Indulgences cannot be gained without a sincere conversion of outlook and unity with God”(Indulgentarium Doctrina 11). We might say that the degree of remission depends on how well the penitent has learned his lesson.

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