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 Vol. 6, No. 9 

December 2004


~ Page 3 ~


By Robert Rushmore

Image The false doctrine of purgatory is credited to Gregory I. He was pope of the Roman Catholic Church from A.D. 590 to 604. It was during this time that the belief of purgatory came about. Our English word "purgatory" comes from the Latin word purgatorium, which comes from purgo, meaning, "I cleanse." Purgatory itself is said to be a middle region between heaven and hell, but more closely related to hell. The purpose of purgatory is to purge the soul from all carnal impurities by means of fire.

Purgatory is a place for baptized Catholics, whether at infancy or adulthood, who are not good enough at death to enter heaven. Purgatory, however, is not an eternal destination for one's soul. Those in heaven and on earth pray for the well being of those in purgatory. The souls in purgatory can pray to the souls in heaven and for the souls on earth, but they cannot pray for themselves. Therefore, souls in purgatory rely on those who are yet alive to relieve them from the fires of purgatory. This is done through prayers, alms and masses offered to God on the behalf of the departed souls. The Roman Catholic Church remembers those without friends or family through general commemorations at every mass. Once an acceptable number of prayers are offered, the soul is released from purgatory and allowed entrance to heaven. Oddly enough, the priests are the ones responsible for deciding the duration of time one must remain in purgatory.

There is no scriptural basis for the concept of purgatory. As mentioned earlier, it was invented by Pope Gregory I. So, what is the benefit of this doctrine? The answer lies within the monetary value placed on the services rendered by the priests for various aspects of praying souls out of purgatory. For example, the fee for a mass in Brooklyn in 1948 ranged from five dollars to one hundred dollars, depending on the number of priests used and their involvement in the ceremony. The most profitable activity for a priest was the offering of prayers for the dead. In fact, a priest could earn several hundred dollars extra on All Soul's Day. Obviously, the design of purgatory was strictly greed oriented.

Purgatory is not something one can find in the Bible. Quite simply, a man named Gregory I created purgatory between the years of A.D. 590 and 604. Since that time, the concept of purgatory has been carried through the years by tradition. "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him" (Colossians 3:17). Purgatory does not qualify as something done in the name of Jesus Christ and for which one ought to give thanks to God the Father.Image

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