"Purgatory (Lat., "purgare", to make clean, to purify) in accordance with Catholic teaching is a place or condition of temporal punishment...." 1
Purgatory is believed by Roman Catholics, and very few other Christians, to be a location or state where the souls of most individuals go at the time of death. It has traditionally been viewed as a place of torment, where "nearly all of us shall...have to pass a period more or less long in the excruciating fires of Purgatory after death." 2 Gregory the Great wrote "that the pain be more intolerable than any one can suffer in this life." Augustine 3 and St. Bonaventure 4 agree. The purpose of this pain is to cleanse the individual from the temporal consequences of her or his sins while on earth. Eventually, the person will be sufficiently purified to be eligible to be transferred to Heaven. The end result of this teaching is that many Catholics are particularly frightened of death.
Belief in Purgatory as a place or process is rejected by essentially all Protestants. Eastern Orthodox Churches have no detailed teaching of Purgatory.
Topics discussed in this section:
Web sites with multiple links to essays on Purgatory:
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Consultants on Religious Tolerance