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Dear Catholic.com visitor: Summer is here, and you may be thinking about a well-deserved vacation, family get-togethers, BBQs with neighborhood friends. More than likely, making a donation to Catholic Answers is not on your radar right now. But this is exactly the time we most need your help. The “summer slowdown” in donations is upon us, but the work of spreading the gospel and explaining and defending the Faith never takes a break. Your gift today will change lives and save souls for Christ this summer! The reward is eternal. Thank you and God bless.

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Does the Church Still Teach Purgatory?

Question:

Does the Church still teach purgatory?

Answer:

“The souls of the just which, in the moment of death, are burdened with venial sins or temporal punishment due to sins, enter purgatory” (De fide).

Yes, the Church still teaches that purgatory exists. It’s a dogmatic teaching of the Church that all those who have died in need of purification, whether Catholic or non-Catholic, are in purgatory. That’s why the Church urges us to pray for all who die in God’s grace and friendship (Catechism 1039), to offer prayers, “above all the eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God.”

Denying the existence of purgatory doesn’t change the reality of its existence. The teaching on purgatory is an article of faith that Catholics must believe. It is a truth that can never change.

St. Gregory the Great:

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. (Source: CCC 1031)

Council of Trent:

Canon XXX: If any one saith, that, after the grace of Justification has  been received, to every penitent sinner the guilt is remitted, and the debt of eternal punishment is blotted out in such wise, that there remains not any debt of temporal punishment to be discharged either in this world, or in the next in purgatory, before the entrance to the kingdom of heaven can be opened (to him); let him be anathema.

The proof of purgatory is based on both Scripture and the early Church Fathers. For a more in-depth explanation of this teaching, I recommend this article and this one.

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