Skip to main content

Full Question

Are Catholics to believe that the cleansing fire of purgatory is real physical fire?

Answer

There are only a few propositions that the Church has dogmatically defined concerning purgatory:

  • There is purification after death.
  • This purification involves some kind of pain.
  • Those being purified can be assisted by prayers, devotions, and Masses.

Other questions concerning purgatory (e.g., its duration, whether it is a place, whether it involves actively inflicted punishments, whether it involves material fire) are speculative.
According to Ludwig Ott:

The Latin Fathers, the schoolmen, and many theologians of modern times, in view of 1 Corinthians 3:15, assume a physical fire. However, the biblical foundation for this is inadequate. Out of consideration for the separated Greeks, who reject the notion of a purifying fire, the official declarations of the councils speak only of purifying punishments (poena purgatoriae), not of purifying fire. (Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, TAN, 485)

Raphael Benedict

Raphael Benedict

Raphael Benedict is a Catholic who wants nothing but to spread the catholic faith to reach the ends of the world. Make this possible by always sharing any article or prayers posted on your social media platforms. Remain blessed

3 Comments

  • João Barreiro says:

    It is not a question of punishment. What was written is that there will be pain. Do people not feel pain here on earth even when it is totally unrelated to punishment? Think of it this way: Imagine you really really want to truly feel at peace with yourself and with God, but you have done somethings in your life and you aren’t completely healed from them, whatever that may be (not being able to forgive yourself, or to forgive someone else, guilt for whatever it is that you did, etc..). So, in other words, you would want to go to Heaven, but you are “not there yet”. If your desire to be in Heaven was so overwhelming, would you not feel pain because you couldn’t be there straight away? And note, this is not because someone is punishing you. One could maybe illustrate this with the parabole of the prodigal son. When he realizes he’s far away from his father and living in misery, he decides it’s time to turn back. But that doesn’t instantly make him in his father’s house. He needs to make the journey back, and this would be purgatory

  • Cherubmike says:

    On the few propositions that thoelogians have formulated and that the Church defines about purgatory, how are we certain, or what are the arguments, that the people who are suffering can be aided by prayers and Masses? I know that as Catholics, we believe in the communion of saints. But, how do we explain that with certainty or atleast with a (logical) basis?

  • Cherubmike says:

    On the few propositions that thoelogians have formulated and that the Church defines about purgatory, how are we certain, or what are the arguments, that the people who are suffering can be aided by prayers and Masses? I know that as Catholics, we believe in the communion of saints. But, how do we explain that with certainty or atleast with a (logical) basis?

Leave a Reply