My local Deacon says he doesn’t believe in Purgatory. He first said this to me when I was in RCIA, and then again a year later. Is belief in Purgatory optional? This really bothers me, because I DO believe in Purgatory. It was one of the Doctrines that brought me to the Church. What should I do, if anything, to try to clear this up with him?
The Church’s teaching on purgatory is a doctrine of the Church. It is not an optional belief. All Catholics are to accept this teaching and adhere to it with religious assent (CCC 892).
I recommend you meet with the deacon privately to discuss this matter. Pray that the Holy Spirit will help you to state the truth charitably and firmly and that the deacon’s heart will be open to truth. Then gather up official Church documentation that explains the Church’s teaching on purgatory, and prepare to present it. The good news is, he won’t have much to argue about because the documentation will speak for itself. But if he wants to argue, he’ll have to argue with the Church. I’ll be praying for both of you.
Please refer to the following documentation:
Catechism of the Catholic Church:
1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.606 The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:
As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come."
Decree (Council of Trent) concerning Purgatory:
“Since the Catholic Church, instructed by the Holy Ghost, has, following the sacred writings and the ancient tradition of the Fathers, taught in sacred councils and very recently in this ecumenical council that there is a purgatory, and that the souls there detained are aided by the suffrages of the faithful and chiefly by the acceptable sacrifice of the altar, the holy council commands the bishops that they strive diligently to the end that the sound doctrine of purgatory, transmitted by the Fathers and sacred councils, be believed and maintained by the faithful of Christ, and be everywhere taught and preached.”
Council of Trent Session 25.
At the General Audience of Wednesday, 4 August 1999, following his catechesis on heaven and hell, the Holy Father reflected on
Importance of documentation