Some argue it is Hell, some Purgatory. But others rgue that Jesus was talking to Jews, and the afterlife had another structure, with Abraham bosom, hell (hades), and maybe more.
Also, the Catechism says it is hell as it was understood back thn, where souls went and waited for Christ.
So the question remains, if it is like these others think, why would the rich man suffer, and not just wait?
Because Hades used to be where both went before the resurrection of Christ, but Christ took the Old Testament saints to Heaven at the resurrection. Hades used to be divided into two sections, one side for the saved and the other side for the unsaved. Now only the unsaved goes to Hades. At the future resurrection at the second coming Christ is going to raise everyone, saved and unsaved. All the souls in Hades will be put back into their bodies and then thrown body and soul into the Lake of fire, while the saved will have their souls reunited with their glorified bodies.
Hades is Hell. There was no pain on the side of Hades where the saints were, that side was what was referred to by Jesus when He told the thief on the cross that ‘today you will be with me in paradise.’ But the other side of Hades where the unsaved was is the place of punishment.
In the parable, Jesus is alluding to Hell as we know it. That is why Abraham told the rich man that there was a fixed chasm separating them which could never be crossed in either direction. That describes THE Hell, the one ruled over by Satan.
@Copeland 3: That is one of the best descriptions I have heard of for this parable (describing Hades)
Hell was fully functional once Satan and his demons defied God and were cast into it.
Traditionally this parable was considering describing an actual event related by Jesus to his followers. The use of a personal name (Lazarus) is not found in any other parable; all of the other parables refer to a central character by a description: “a certain man”, “a sower”, and so forth.
The parable is consistent with the Catholic belief that both identity and memory remain after death for the soul of the one in a hell. It is the traditional belief in the West that Lazarus is in Heaven or Paradise and the rich man in Hell.
The purpose of the parable is to teach us the evil result of the neglect of one’s opportunities. Lazarus was rewarded not because he was poor but for his virtuous acceptance of poverty. The rich man was punished, not because he was rich, but for neglect of the opportunities given him by his wealth.
Pope Benedict XVI gave the right interpretation when he said the place where this rich man entered is actually the Hades of the Old Testament and is not hell at all. Remember that Jesus used the parable to explain to the Jewish people the meaning of His coming and the sign which He would give to us in His Death and Resurrection. The rich man is not in hell since he has this concern for others. No one in hell has this concern. So it must be the Hades of the Old Testament. The point of the parable was never this Hades or Hell interpretation but actually more about signs. The rich man for instance said if someone goes out from the dead they will believe meaning his brothers. But Abraham said if people will not believe in the Scriptures why would they believe in someone coming from the dead. The Pope goes on saying this actually happened to Jesus when He had risen Lazarus in the Gospels. Did the raising of Lazarus confirm belief in the Pharisees? On the contrary the Pharisees doubled their efforts to kill both Jesus and Lazarus. In fact the Pope says that the poor Lazarus in the parable points to Jesus. If any sign would be given it would be the sign of our Lord’s Death and Resurrection. The fact that Jesus had given this parable illustrates the unbelief of people who make demands of a sign as illustrated by the rich man. If people will not believe in the Scriptures they will not believe in a sign either. This was the point of the message of the parable. However the true Lazarus, who is our Lord Jesus speaks louder as He becomes the actual sign for those who are seeking it.