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DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-K075-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 15, 2024, from

Article Summary

According to Roman Catholic teaching, purgatory is the place or state of purification after death in which those who die in a state of grace (and hence are assured of being saved) make expiation for unforgiven venial sins or endure temporal punishment for mortal and venial sins already forgiven. The concept evolved to resolve the theological confusion about the state of souls between personal death and the general resurrection and Last Judgment, to explain what happens to those persons who repent before death but do not live long enough to do penance for their sins, and to make intelligible the widespread practice of praying for the souls of the departed. The doctrine developed in conjunction with a ‘high’ Eucharistic theology, according to which all the faithful departed take part in the liturgy of the Church. The idea of purgatory is therefore intimately connected with Christian ideas of sin, judgment, retributive punishment, the communion of saints and the idea that salvation occurs in history. It was rejected by the Reformers and, in the second half of the twentieth century, interest from Catholic theologians has waned. Nevertheless, some modern Protestant thinkers have defended the concept as an intermediate phase in salvation.

Citing this article:
Zagzebski, Linda. Purgatory, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-K075-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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