Why does not the pope liberate everyone from purgatory for the sake of love

They ask, e.g.: Why does not the pope liberate everyone from purgatory for the sake of love (a most holy thing) and because of the supreme necessity of their souls? This would be morally the best of all reasons. Meanwhile he redeems innumerable souls for money, a most perishable thing, with which to build St. Peter’s church, a very minor purpose.

I think you need *serious *help in your understanding of what the role of the Holy Father is, and what the purpose of Purgatory is. Try the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Who can grant indulgences
The distribution of the merits contained in the treasury of the Church is an exercise of authority (potestas iurisdictionis), not of the power conferred by Holy orders (potestas ordinis). Hence the pope, as supreme head of the Church on earth, can grant all kinds of indulgences to any and all of the faithful; and he alone can grant plenary indulgences.


So let me ask again if it is within the power of the pope to grant a plenary indulgence why has not any pope in an act of love released the suffering souls from purgatory?

Because indulgences aren’t, and can’t be, attached to PEOPLE, rather they are attached to PRAYERS or ACTIONS (when combined with requisite confession, communion and most importantly an ATTITUDE of total and utter detachment from sin) which people may do and have in order to obtain remission of purgatory for themselves or others.

In theory, if I knew the number of souls in purgatory and had sufficient time left to me, I could at least try to say enough prayers and make enough communions and cultivate the necessary detachment from sin in order to gain indulgences for all of them and free them all from purgatory.

But the Pope doesn’t have the authority to simply declare any soul free from purgatory without any consideration of their state of soul. Indulgences are related to the so-called ‘treasury of merit’, in other words the spiritual treasury built up by the good works and virtues of Catholics collectively through the centuries.

I would reiterate what has been said Lily and Chaldean.


The problem does not lie with the Popes. It lies with your understanding. Please don’t just beat the same drum, but try to discover and understand what the Church actually teaches about indulgences.


At EVERY Mass, at EVERY hour, EVERY day, the souls of the departed are prayed for !! (Been to Mass lately?)

“Whatever you bind IN THIS WORLD will be bound in the next, and whatever you loose, will be loosed…” (paraphased)

Know where to find purgatory IN THIS WORLD?


The treasury of the Church
Christ, as St. John declares in his First Epistle (ii, 2), “is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” Since the satisfaction of Christ is infinite, it constitutes an inexhaustible fund which is more than sufficient to cover the indebtedness contracted by sin, Besides, there are the satisfactory works of the Blessed Virgin Mary undiminished by any penalty due to sin, and the virtues, penances, and sufferings of the saints vastly exceeding any temporal punishment which these servants of God might have incurred. These are added to the treasury of the Church as a secondary deposit, not independent of, but rather acquired through, the merits of Christ. The development of this doctrine in explicit form was the work of the great Schoolmen, notably Alexander of Hales (Summa, IV, Q. xxiii, m. 3, n. 6), Albertus Magnus (In IV Sent., dist. xx, art. 16), and St. Thomas (In IV Sent., dist. xx, q. i, art. 3, sol. 1). As Aquinas declares (Quodlib., II, q. vii, art. 16): “All the saints intended that whatever they did or suffered for God’s sake should be profitable not only to themselves but to the whole Church.” And he further points out (Contra Gent., III, 158) that what one endures for another being a work of love, is more acceptable as satisfaction in God’s sight than what one suffers on one’s own account, since this is a matter of necessity. The existence of an infinite treasury of merits in the Church is dogmatically set forth in the Bull “Unigenitus”, published by Clement VI, 27 Jan., 1343, and later inserted in the “Corpus Juris” (Extrav. Com., lib. V, tit. ix. c. ii): “Upon the altar of the Cross”, says the pope, “Christ shed of His blood not merely a drop, though this would have sufficed, by reason of the union with the Word, to redeem the whole human race, but a copious torrent. . . thereby laying up an infinite treasure for mankind. This treasure He neither wrapped up in a napkin nor hid in a field, but entrusted to Blessed Peter, the key-bearer, and his successors, that they might, for just and reasonable causes, distribute it to the faithful in full or in partial remission of the temporal punishment due to sin.” Hence the condemnation by Leo X of Luther’s assertion that “the treasures of the Church from which the pope grants indulgences are not the merits of Christ and the saints” (Enchiridion, 757). For the same reason, Pius VI (1794) branded as false, temerarious, and injurious to the merits of Christ and the saints, the error of the synod of Pistoia that the treasury of the Church was an invention of scholastic subtlety (Enchiridion, 1541).

According to Catholic doctrine, therefore, the source of indulgences is constituted by the merits of Christ and the saints. This treasury is left to the keeping, not of the individual Christian, but of the Church. Consequently, to make it available for the faithful, there is required an exercise of authority, which alone can determine in what way, on what terms, and to what extent, indulgences may be granted.


Says the treasury of merit is infinite.
Is New Advent wrong?

It is infinite and more then infinite, it cannot be applied infinitely though. Its effectiveness always depends on the extent to which individual souls accept and apply its graces. That’s why Christ’s sacrifice, infinite atonement though it was, did NOT result in the complete emptying of Hell, let alone the total elimination of purgatory, though He could easily have emptied Hell and eliminated Purgatory Himself, instantly upon His resurrection (not like he need wait for a Pope to do it for Him!), had He willed it.

So well said. Too often, non-Catholics ask a question about our faith, but have no real interest in the answer. They seem to have decided already what they believe about the CC, and there is nothing anyone can say to help them see that their understanding is off.

I think it’s important for the OP to notice, too, that you didn’t ask him to believe what the CC teaches, but only to understand what the teaching actually is vs what his understanding is.

:rolleyes: Oh my goodness. This is so old! Literally… from back in the day.
The Pope does not sell indulgences today. This needs to be put to rest already, it’s getting old.

Why don’t you do some real research to see what the Church actually teaches about indulgences? Try it. You might learn something.

I know what you meant to say, but I must correct what you did say.

The pope never sold nor advocated the sale of indulgence. An indulgence could be granted for a contribution to the Church so long as it was in addition to regular conrtibutions not in place of it and it was by its nature a sacrifice. The teaching was abused by various people for various reasons.

Back to the topic at hand. People in Purgatory are not being punished. They are being prepaired. Yes, the pope can grant them release, but as God put Purgatory there, God wants it there for a reason. THe pope would not do it because it goes against God’s will and the Holy Spirit will not allow it.

Wouldn’t be the first time.

Yes, this I realize. But it gets tiresome explaining this to people who use the same ol’ same ol’ as an excuse to knock down the Church.

I know. At least they could get more current with the problems. I keep waiting for the Sabbath on Saturday issue…wait, there are a couple of threads for that first century issue.

Hi Hisalone,

That’s a very interesting post. (No, I’m not being sarcastic or snide.) However

at this point your argument really breaks down. Why? Because nowadays, most Catholics admit that the sale of indulgences was a terrible, terrible abuse. (Actually, I would say that one good result of the Protestant Reformation is that it brought about an end, or at least lessening, to the corruption in the Catholic Church.)

I agree that the basic topic is a good theological issue and one that can lead to a better understanding of at least three issues: authority of the pope, indugences, and purgatory.

There is nothing preventing the pope from giving plenary indulgences to all the sols in purgatory.

There is certailnly conflict in the teaching. I am just trying to emphasize that. Rather than address my point you attack. You have not addressed my point so it appears to me you have no ndersatanding either.

The OP was a word for word copy of Martin Luthers 82 thesis of his 95. There is not one Catholic in a thousand that would know that.

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