Purgatory Remains Catholic Doctrine: Documentation

The following page is supposed to collect proofs that purgatory is still a doctrine of the Catholic Church: historyandapologetics.com/2016/02/purgatory-remains-catholic-doctrine.html

I wanted to make this page because I have heard several people confidently state that they saw a video or a news article claiming that the Catholic Church has come out and declared that purgatory isn’t real. I think that’s not true, so I’m documenting the fact that the Church still teaches purgatory using documents from the 1940s to the 2010s.

Purgatory Remains Catholic Doctrine

1943 A.D. - Pope Pius 12 - “Our united prayer should rise daily to heaven for all the members of the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ… [L]et there be a special remembrance…for the suffering souls in Purgatory.” (Mystici Corporis Christi 101)

1947 A.D. - Pope Pius 12 - “[The Church] extends to the souls in purgatory, who implore her intercession and her prayers, the helping hand which may lead them happily at last to eternal blessedness in heaven.” (Mediator Dei 22)

1964 A.D. - 21st Ecumenical Council - “Until the Lord shall come in His majesty…some of His disciples are exiles on earth, some having died are purified, and others are in glory beholding clearly God Himself triune and one, as He is.” (Lumen Gentium 49, internal quote marks removed)

Also: “This Sacred Council accepts…[that some of] our brethren…are in heavenly glory… [Others have] died [and] are still being purified; and it proposes again the decrees of the Second Council of Nicea, the Council of Florence and the Council of Trent.” (Lumen Gentium 51)

1968 A.D. - Bl. Pope Paul 6 - “We believe in the life eternal. We believe that the souls of all those who die in the grace of Christ…whether they must still be purified in purgatory, or whether…Jesus takes them [straight] to paradise as He did for the Good Thief…are the People of God in the eternity beyond death.” (Credo of the People of God 28)


1964 A.D. - 21st Ecumenical Council - “Until the Lord shall come in His majesty…some of His disciples are exiles on earth, some having died are purified, and others are in glory beholding clearly God Himself triune and one, as He is.” (Lumen Gentium 49, internal quote marks removed)

This is a strange one imo…how can they be exiled ON EARTH if they died, purgatory is not on earth…right?

This also reminds me of that verse the suggests some souls ‘sleep’ until Jesus comes again, mentioning sleeping in the earth, or in the dust?? But when Jesus when crucified, the one thief who repented, Jesus told would be in paradise with him THAT VERY DAY, so…those few hours on the cross was the only purifying he needed?

I would just refer them to the current Catechism:

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:607

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.608

Honestly I believe this is just a case of mistaken identity. I would bet that the people you’ve talked to are simply confused between limbo and purgatory. There was a document a few years ago about infant baptism, which essentially said that while the teaching of limbo was embraced by theologians for many years, it essentially has no basis anywhere in liturgy or revelation.This document did not carry the teaching authority of the magisterium, but many people basically understood this document to mean that the Church had changed a centuries old position on the existence of limbo. However, limbo was never a dogmatic teaching of the Church anyway.

I’m guessing these folks are just confused and probably don’t know the difference between limbo and purgatory. But I could be wrong…


You’re misunderstanding the sentence, though. It’s not saying that there are dead people who are “exiles on earth.” Rather, this is a description of the Communion of the Saints: The Church Triumphant (those “in glory beholding clearly God Himself”), The Church Suffering (those “having died are [being] purified”*), and The Church Militant (those “disciples [who are] exiles on earth”).

The Church Triumphant are the souls in heaven; the Church Suffering are the souls in purgatory; and the Church Militant is us here on earth.

  • I’m confused by the English translation; “some having died are purified” is the translation of “alii hac vita functi purificantur.” It would seem that the translation might better be phrased “are being purified,” which would make more sense in the context of purgatory. :shrug:

The English translation you suggest is more natural to my ears, but I think both your translation and the Vatican’s are grammatically correct. It is my understanding that English permits the use of the present perfect to indicate that something is currently happening, and I think “are purified” is in the present perfect tense.

“I am emotionally moved” can be said by someone who is finished being emotionally moved Or by someone who is still being emotionally moved. Similarly, I think we can say “they are purified” of people who are currently being purified Or of people who are finished being purified, though the former is a less natural interpretation.

Nonetheless, perhaps I should point out that the Vatican translators aren’t perfect. I’m just glad to have so much stuff in English, even if it isn’t always the best sounding English.

That is my diagnosis as well. In all the cases I’ve heard where people make the claim that the Church has reversed it’s position on purgatory, I think they are actually mixing it up with limbo (which, BTW, the document you cited says is still an acceptable theory…which is what it always was).

Nevertheless, if Catholic apologists want to refute this claim for someone who has this misunderstanding, they may find it useful to show people that all the recent popes still teach purgatory. That would help show that the document they are thinking of (the one on limbo) actually had nothing to do with purgatory.

I’m currently discussing purgatory with two men who are making this claim. One has merely said that the Church renounced purgatory a few years back, and that it was all in the news, and he is looking for a news report this week to prove it since I asked for proof. I didn’t mention to him that I think he has gotten limbo confused with purgatory, but I hope to do that next time we talk. The other gentleman insists that his friend’s memory has to be accurate, and so he refused to believe me when I told him that his friend probably got a rumor about limbo mixed up with purgatory. I hope to show both of them these quotes in order to set the record straight.

In isolation? Sure, I might buy that. However, the sentence is structured in parallel: “are exiles”, “are purified”, “are in glory”. Are you suggesting that all are present perfect? (Of course not.) On the other hand, in the Latin, we have “peregrinantur… purificantur… glorificantur.”

Very good points. I suppose the present perfect forms of each of those would be “are exiled…are purified…are glorified.” The English should probably read “are being glorified” as it is translated the second time in order to be easier on our ears. But it is not exactly inaccurate, at least I don’t think it is. The parallels might Suggest that it is referring to a completed situation, but they don’t seem to Demand that, at least not to me.

AMEN, thank you, God Bless, Memaw

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.