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Roman Catholic Doctrine of Purgatory, part 1—An Introduction | True Freethinker


When Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was a renowned theologian, Cardinal Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (the former Holy Office), which is the most important Vatican curial office, charged with the preservation and promotion of Catholic orthodoxy (he then became Pope Benedict XVI) stated,

My view is that if Purgatory did not exist, we should have to invent it1

At a class on the Roman Catholic Faith2 the teacher, Hermano Juan Sandoval, was speaking on Purgatory when from the audience a question was asked to the effect of “If Purgatory is such an important doctrine, why didn’t Jesus teach us about it.”
In one single breath Hermano Sandoval answered that the doctrine is not found in the Bible but that we could look it up in Matthew 12:32. This contradictory answer is very common because while the dogma is not Biblical the claim is made that the Bible implies it. After the class while discussing the issue with a Roman Catholic class attendee I pointed out that 2nd Maccabees 12:38-46 (the mother of all Purgatory scriptures) was not speaking of Purgatory and the footnotes in the New American Bible, a Vatican approved Bible, states as much. The response was that yes, it is speaking of Purgatory, and I repeated the Hermano’s words in saying that we were just taught that the doctrine of Purgatory is not found anywhere in the Bible. The student was kind enough to bring me a list of scriptures that attempt to prove the doctrine of Purgatory from the Bible (which we will consider in the The Consulted Scriptures section).

This true story is a good example of the sorts of problems that false doctrines cause. Without any sense of irony the teacher contradicted himself, and the student contradicted the teacher.
This is eisegesis (or, isogesis), which is when we come to the Scripture with a preconceived notion and try to force the text to say what we want. As opposed to exegesis, which is when we come to the text with a clean slate and we allow the text to tell us what it says.

Our purpose here will be to examine Purgatory prooftexts, their footnotes and definitions from Roman Catholic Bibles. The Scriptures will be quoted from the NAB and the footnotes come from various other Roman Catholic Bibles and will be footnoted appropriately.


Therefore, there is now no condemnation
for those who are in Christ Jesus

—Romans 8:1


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