Purgatory and Eternal Hell, a contradiction?


I’m not attempting here to disprove something, but in reading about Purgatory (which I firmly believe) the following question came up.

The Catholic Encyclopedia reads:

Purgatory (Lat., “purgare”, to make clean, to purify) in accordance with Catholic teaching is a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are, not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.

As far as I understand, the consequences of sin are eternal as God would not punish someone for a period longer than what their sin merited.

We have to be purified in order to enter heaven. “Nothing unclean shall enter heaven (cf. Rev. 21:27).”

Now if the consequences of sin are eternal by nature, then how can one “fully pay the satisfaction due to their transgressions” in Purgatory? If we are argue that sin can be full paid in Purgatory, then why can we not “pay the satisfaction due to ours transgressions in hell” ?

If we argue that those in hell are not “paying for their transgressions” by punishment then it would seem that there is no justice to the idea of hell.


The primary difference between the two states is in hell there is an eternal punishment due to unrepented sins where purgatory is a temporal punishment due to repented sins.

Where the difference between the eternal vs the temporal punishments is due to forgiveness. If we ask Christ to forgive us our sins through a Priest in the sacrament of Penence then Christ takes on the “death” part of the sin. Remember that the result of mortal sin is ultimately death. But since Christ came and died for our sins we no longer pay that price if we repent.

That being said there is still temporal punishments we have to pay for the sin. So we don’t get away free of all punishment.

So to summarize those that go to hell are the unrepentant sinners and those that go to heaven are the repentant sinners.

No contradiction at all.

Hope this helps clarify what you are looking for.



That being said there is still temporal punishments we have to pay for the sin. So we don’t get away free of all punishment.

Isn’t this is what penance and mortification are about here on earth?

Suffering on earth, when offered up, pays for the sin. Those who do penance and/or suffer are paying for their sins while they’re living on earth and might be able to avoid Purgatory and go straight to heaven.

Those who have not done enough penance before death are not purified enough to enter heaven. Purgatory is the place where they are allowed to finish working off their debts, so they can be pure enough to enter Heaven.

Matthew 5

25 Be at agreement with thy adversary betimes, whilst thou art in the way with him: lest perhaps the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.

26 Amen I say to thee, thou shalt not go out from thence till thou repay the last farthing.

I’ve seen this interpreted in reference to Purgatory.

The “prison” is a reference to the place of Purgatory.

“Thou shalt not go out from thence till thou repay the last farthing”, explains how those who are saved, but have not finished paying off their sin debt, will be required to pay it down to the last penny in purgatory.


[INDENT]. . . sin has *a double consequence.

*Grave sin deprives us of communion with God and therefore makes us incapable of eternal life, the privation of which is called the “eternal punishment” of sin.

On the other hand every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory. This purification frees one from what is called the “temporal punishment” of sin.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 1472


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