Why I Am Not Catholic Anymore: The Problem of Purgatory.

How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop TM? The wise old owl says, “The world will never know.” The same is true when it comes to getting a Catholic out of Purgatory. This was one of the most unsettling questions I had as a Catholic.

According to the two volume set, Catholicism, Volume II page 1143, “There is for all practical purposes, no biblical basis for the doctrine of purgatory.” (McBrien, 1143). So why even believe in it? What purpose does it serve and are millions of Catholics being deceived into thinking that it exists on the basis of scripture.

Roman Catholicism describes purgatory as,

“a place or state in which are detained the souls of those who die in grace, in friendship with God, but with the blemish of venial sin or with temporal debt from sin unpaid. Here the soul is purged, cleansed, readied for eternal union with God in heaven.”

(George Brandtl, ed., Catholicism (New York: Braziller, 1962), 232)

The Roman Catholic Catechism explains purgatory in paragraphs 1030-1032 and 1472 as follows:

1030 All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.

1031 “The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. 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.”

1032 “This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: “Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.” From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God. The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead: Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them. ( St. John Chrysostom, Hom. in 1 Cor. 41,5:PG 61,361; cf. Job 1:5.)”

1472 “To understand this doctrine and practice of the Church, it is necessary to understand that 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. These two punishments must not be conceived of as a kind of vengeance inflicted by God from without, but as following from the very nature of sin. A conversion which proceeds from a fervent charity can attain the complete purification of the sinner in such a way that no punishment would remain.”

The suffering in purgatory is twofold: physical pain and separation from God. The suffering in purgatory is necessary because the person has not made complete satisfaction for sins and is not ready to see God because of imperfection.

According to Roman Catholic doctrine, the length of suffering in purgatory is determined by the person’s degree of sinfulness. The time of suffering can be shortened through prayers, good works and money paid by living faithful followers and Masses performed in memory of the dead.

So, where does purgatory come from and why is it taught?

It is believed that purgatory comes from a verse of the Apocrypha – 2 Maccabees 12:43-45:

[43] He also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of two thousand drachmas of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection.

[44] For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead.

[45] But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore, he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.

Also, an obscure verse in 1 Corinthians 3:14-15

[14] If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.

[15] If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

Protestant Christianity does not adhere or believe that the Apocrypha or Deuterocanonical are considered holy scripture. It may be used historically, but no further. These verses are obviously taken out of context to prove a point. What point would that be? It was used to increase tithing money from poor Catholic adherents in the days of the dark ages. The reason they called it the “dark ages” was because of all the clerical corruption in the church. The bible was hidden from the common man because the common man couldn’t read it, or understand it. Written in Hebrew and Greek, then translated to Latin; it had to be interpreted through the Roman Catholic Clergy, and their interpretation was basically, “the words of God”. That’s why I believe it was the real reason the Roman Catholic Church killed men like William Tyndale, who translated the bible into languages that can be easily read by the common man. So that the common man could read the bible for themselves and realize they’ve been bamboozled regarding indulgences and purgatory.

Purgatory was a money-making scheme, as described eloquently by this The Robert Booth Blog:

“You’ve heard the phrase, “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.” But who popularized that saying? His name was John Tetzel, and his message was that the purchase of indulgences from the Pope held as much power for forgiving sin, as did Jesus dying on the cross!

John Tetzel would ride into a German village, set up a theatrical stage, and dramatically convince people to give of their money to purchase relatives out of purgatory or in some cases, pre-pay for their own sins. He had a quaint little saying; “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs!” On the stage he would set up a metal coffer, so that when a coin is placed inside, it would ring loud enough for other people to hear.

Tetzel was born in Saxony in 1465, and died August 11, 1519, almost two years after Luther nailed the 95 theses that was the spark that lit the Reformation. He joined the order of Dominican monks in 1489. He became known for selling indulgences. In 1517, he was selling indulgences, commissioned by the pope near Wittenberg. He claimed that the papal cross, under which these indulgences were sold, held as much power as the cross of Christ.

The selling of indulgences was a practice that was started during the Crusades to raise money for the church. People could purchase from the church a letter that supposedly freed a dead loved one from purgatory. But in this case, some of the proceeds were intended to help Pope Leo X pay for a new St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome that he wanted built. The Pope taught that indulgences could free a soul from God’s wrath but he was really fundraising for St. Peter’s Basilica.

This practice enraged Luther, for several reasons. When Luther’s parishioners asked him about the indulgences, he became concerned that there would cease to be true repentance. He determined that there must be a public debate on the matter. So on October 31, 1517, he nailed a list of Ninety-five Theses regarding indulgences to the front door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.

Initially, Luther didn’t want division, he earnestly wanted the church to be aware of this harmful practice. But in the end, Pope Leo X needed more $ to finance his extravagant lifestyle. The selling of indulgences continued, and Luther became convinced that this was not of God.” (http://rwbooth.com/2017/10/01/tetzel/)

After reading these paragraphs from the Roman Catholic Catechism, what questions come to mind? Several questions that I asked myself, and my Priest was, “How much time do I have to knock off in Purgatory, how much sin do I have to atone for, and how much do I have to do to make that happen since it is me that has to do that?” To further your thinking, ponder this…

An 80 year old man dies and goes to purgatory. In order for him to get out he has to rely on his living loved ones to bail him out. Since they don’t know how much, they would have to move rather quickly and put forth all efforts to get him out of jail into the freedom of heaven. The ages of his family ranges from his nephew of 5 to his wife of 75. If they die the same time as him, they have between 5 and 75 years at best to get this done (being his nephew remembers him through the years and his wife doesn’t fall to Alzheimer’s disease or dementia). If they don’t, who would go before him by way of indulgences or prayer to rescue him if in fact they never knew him to begin with? If it didn’t take him 75 years to accomplish this feat, the chances of the rest of his family finishing the task for him are slim. And he is just one person. What about the rest of his catholic family?

So what is done to get a person out of purgatory…having masses said in the deceased name, prayer, and indulgences (RCC – 1032).

“The Church assists those in Purgatory through prayer and especially Eucharist in their final process of purification. Offering Masses for the deceased is a most powerful way of aiding them. November 2 of each year, the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls Day), is a day for special remembrance and prayer for the dead.”

The United States Catechism For Adults, 154

Of course we are still found wanting as to how much. How many Masses, prayers, indulgences does it take to get a Catholic out of Purgatory.

Also, what is puzzling to me is that according to the Roman Catholic Catechism, justification comes to us by baptism and faith in Jesus Christ.

1990 Justification detaches man from sin which contradicts the love of God, and purifies his heart of sin. Justification follows upon God's merciful initiative of offering forgiveness. It frees from the enslavement to sin, and it heals. It reconciles man with God.

1991 Justification is at the same time the acceptance of God's righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ. Righteousness (or "justice") here means the rectitude of divine love. With justification, faith, hope, and charity are poured into our hearts, and obedience to the divine will is granted us.

1992 Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ who offered himself on the cross as a living victim, holy and pleasing to God, and whose blood has become the instrument of atonement for the sins of all men. Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy. Its purpose is the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life.

So according to the Roman Catholic Catechism, since Catholics are justified by baptism and faith in Jesus Christ for the cleansing of sin, why then is Purgatory ever mentioned if there is no need for it. Want my opinion…save your money and be justified by God’s grace and mercy.

Purgatory is not biblical, and gives Catholics a false sense of salvation by works instead of on the blood of Christ; through faith alone, by grace alone, in Christ alone.

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised [us] up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:4-9 NKJV)

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