Is Pope Gregory the Great's position different from the Catholic Church's?


I have been reading some of Gregory the Great’s dialogues with his deacon, Peter. In Dialogue 41 from Book 4, Gregory is discussing Purgatory and states at the end, “In this connection [with venial sins, I think] we should also remember that in the world to come no one will be cleansed even of the slightest faults, unless he has merited such a cleansing through good works performed in this life.”

I don’t quite understand Gregory’s use of merit in this sense. As far as I know if someone dies in God’s grace, but has venial sins on them, God will purify them, before allowing them to enter Heaven. I don’t see where the merit or the good works, in this sense, completely falls in line with the doctrine of Purgatory.




Dear brother Cody,

I believe the focus should be on the term “good works” as well as the word “merit.” “Good works” is a specific theological and scriptural term that refers to works done by Christians - i.e., those empowered by sanctification in the Holy Spirit. Recall the Scripture that states that “in Him we can do all things” and that we can do nothing apart from the vine.

The merit spoken of by Pope St. Gregory is the merit of being Christian (i.e., one who performs “good works”). Those who die as a Christian (a believing Christian presumably) will gain the supererogatory merits of Christ and the Saints as satisfaction for (i.e., cleansing from) any remaining venial sins.

Well, that’s my understanding of Latin theology. Does that help?



Isn’t this the same work where he describes pugatory as a literal fire?


One must die in a state of grace (ie. merit the cleansing)


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