Greek Catholics and Purgatory

Deacon Lance

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Pravoslavbob said:
Rosehip said:
Do Greek Catholics believe in purgatory, or do they believe as we Orthodox believe on this?
One way that a knowledgeable Ukrainian Catholic explained it to me is that they do believe in purgatory, and that there is no problem with this when it comes to relations with the Orthodox, since the Orthodox insist on a belief in what is essentially the same thing without defining it as such.  When I pointed out to him that this was not true, he did not have an answer for me.
How is it not true?  While not raised to the level of dogma, some Orthodox believe that prayers for the dead can gain their release from the fore-court of hell, which I find to be semantics.

http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/death/prayer_dead.aspx

http://www.stjohndc.org/Russian/orthhtrdx/e_P09.htm
 

Deacon Lance

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Rosehip said:
Thanks, Deacon Lance. So basically, it is fair to say that Greek Catholics are absolutely 100% Roman Catholic in doctrine, but diiffer only, and absolutely only, in their external ritual, which is Eastern?
disclaimer: I am aware of the fact (next to) noone on this site will agree with the following:

I would say we are 100% Catholic in doctrine, and differ sometimes greatly in the expression of that doctrine from our Latin Catholic brethren.  I would also say it is impossible to pray and liturgize in a tradition and not be formed by it. 

Please note that the Catechism teaches:
1.  There is a state of final purification.
2.  Prayer for those in that state is effective.

That is all Eastern Catholics are required to believe, we are not required to accept medieval Latin add ons to the above.

Fr. Deacon Lance
 

username!

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mike said:
username! said:
mike said:
'Byzantine Catholics' refer to faithfuls of all Catholic Churches of Byzantine Liturgical Tradition (Greek, Slavic, Romanian, Georgian, Melchite) and 'Greek' only for those with Greek ethnicity?

Just thinking aloud. I don't know.
No Mike, I explained what the two terms mean in English.  I was Greek Catholic before I was Eastern Orthodox which makes me familiar with the terms, customs and teachings of those churches.
I saw your post after I had posted mine. Thanks for great explanation.
You are welcome.
 

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Deacon Lance said:
Pravoslavbob said:
Rosehip said:
Do Greek Catholics believe in purgatory, or do they believe as we Orthodox believe on this?
One way that a knowledgeable Ukrainian Catholic explained it to me is that they do believe in purgatory, and that there is no problem with this when it comes to relations with the Orthodox, since the Orthodox insist on a belief in what is essentially the same thing without defining it as such.  When I pointed out to him that this was not true, he did not have an answer for me.
How is it not true?  While not raised to the level of dogma, some Orthodox believe that prayers for the dead can gain their release from the fore-court of hell, which I find to be semantics.

http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/death/prayer_dead.aspx

http://www.stjohndc.org/Russian/orthhtrdx/e_P09.htm
These are the best references available?  Do tell me the standard Orthodox teaching on life after death Dcn. Lance.  No matter how you compare it there are great differences between us when it comes to this. 
The notion of purgatory is one that you must pay debt for the sins you were already forgiven for.
In the Orthodox Church when you are forgiven, as the greek word for forgiveness also means healed, well, you are healed/forgiven and do not owe time in purgatory.  It isn't simply semantics, it is a real difference that leads to a larger rift between the teaching of the Roman Catholic Communion and the Eastern Orthodox Church.
It is in the details that we are different and what you teach and how you pray makes for great differences.  And you know I have great Greek Catholic friends, so please don't take me pointing out differences as anything against your church :)
 

Deacon Lance

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username!,

They were the easiest to find and post (and its late and I just got back from an icon painting class 
:) ) but several Orthodox authors deal with subject.  As far as standard teaching goes , I am not aware of one.  Some hold to toll-houses, some believe in release from the fore-court of hell, some don't believe in anything, and each of them is acceptable as theological opinion.

The Church does not state that Purgatory is about paying a debt.  The Catechism states: "The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned."  I don't see how purification can be equated with punishment.  I think the Catholic teaching, as cited in the Catechism,  is actually much more compatible with Orthodox theology than the Orthodox theologumen of release from the fore-court of Hell, which definately entails punishment and suffering.  I agree with you in rejecting medieval Latin errors on the subject. 

Fr. Deacon Lance
 

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Deacon Lance said:
How is it not true?
You answer your own question here: 

 While not raised to the level of dogma, some Orthodox believe that prayers for the dead can gain their release from the fore-court of hell, which I find to be semantics.
Nothing about what happens to the soul after death is dogma in Orthodoxy, unlike Catholicism.  And yes, some Orthodox believe in something akin to what you describe.


Deacon Lance said:
Please note that the Catechism teaches:
1.  There is a state of final purification.
2.  Prayer for those in that state is effective.

That is all Eastern Catholics are required to believe, we are not required to accept medieval Latin add ons to the above.
All Catholics are required to believe in what you have described in the catechism, including a "purifying fire", and not just in the paraphrase you present here.   Just what is your point, Deacon Lance?
 

Deacon Lance

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Pravoslavbob,

You state:

When I pointed out to him that this was not true, he did not have an answer for me.
When in fact some Orthodox do believe in something similar.

All Catholics are required to believe in what you have described in the catechism, including a "purifying fire", and not just in the paraphrase you present here.   Just what is your point, Deacon Lance?
That the required belief is minimal and does not include goofy medieval Latin opinions that make Puragtory into some sort of Hell Lite, which I think most Christians of any stripe would find abhorent.

Fr. Deacon Lance
 

Pravoslavbob

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Deacon Lance said:
Pravoslavbob,

You state:

When I pointed out to him that this was not true, he did not have an answer for me.
When in fact some Orthodox do believe in something similar.
What is the point of removing my statements from their context, Deacon Lance.  Really, please.

This is what I state:

Pravoslavbob said:
One way that a knowledgeable Ukrainian Catholic explained it to me is that they do believe in purgatory, and that there is no problem with this when it comes to relations with the Orthodox, since the Orthodox insist on a belief in what is essentially the same thing without defining it as such.  When I pointed out to him that this was not true, he did not have an answer for me.
The Orthodox "insist" on no such thing.  As you yourself have said, there is no dogma about a state of purification after death in Orthodoxy.   That is the gist of my argument.  I think this is very clear.  Equally clear (quoted here in black and white by you yourself!) is that Catholics must believe in a purifying fire, and not just any old kind of purification. 
 

Deacon Lance

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Pravoslavbob,

My apologies.  I missed the "insist" in his statement.  He was indeed wrong to state that.  The most that can be said is a similar, though not identical opinion, is held by some Orthodox.

Fr. Deacon Lance
 

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Deacon Lance said:
Pravoslavbob,

My apologies.  I missed the "insist" in his statement.  He was indeed wrong to state that.  The most that can be said is a similar, though not identical opinion, is held by some Orthodox.

Fr. Deacon Lance
Ah but isn't this thread really about what the Greek Catholics believe?  Why does it always have to come back to this same argument... "this is held by some Orthodox."
 

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Deacon Lance said:
Pravoslavbob,

My apologies.  I missed the "insist" in his statement.  He was indeed wrong to state that.  The most that can be said is a similar, though not identical opinion, is held by some Orthodox.

Fr. Deacon Lance
Your very gracious apology is accepted, Deacon Lance.  :)
 

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username! said:
Ah but isn't this thread really about what the Greek Catholics believe? 
Yes it is.  The problem is, some Orthodox like to dig up the worst Latin theological excesses and present them as the required belief of Greek Catholics.

username! said:
Why does it always have to come back to this same argument... "this is held by some Orthodox."
Because its a good arguement.  How can Greek Catholics be criticized for believing in Purgatory as defined by the Catechism, when some Orthodox believe in something worse like release from the fore-court of Hell?

Fr. Deacon Lance
 

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Deacon Lance said:
When in fact some Orthodox do believe in something similar.
Dear Father Deacon,

I believe that what is happening is that some Catholic doctrines have entered a state of flux since Vatican II.  We can think of Original Sin and Purgatory.  The Catechism now used is noteworthy for having moved closer to Orthodox positions.  This is something which people acknowledge and speak about.

But - this causes confusion - intergenerational confusion among Catholics, between those educated prior to Vatican II and those educated after. 

(If you don't believe me, try going to a Catholic school to give a small talk on icons and experience the pain of the children almost shouting at you:  "No, Father, we don't pray to Mary.  We don't pray to Saints" and you glance at the teacher and she smiles wryly and says that this is the way things are taught now.)

Getting back on topic - this also casues confusion in dialogue, depending if you are speaking with a pre- or post-Vatican II Catholic.

I personally think it is a great thing that some manner of doctrinal expression is being modified and finding expression closer to Orthodoxy.
 

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Deacon Lance said:
Yes it is.  The problem is, some Orthodox like to dig up the worst Latin theological excesses and present them as the required belief of Greek Catholics.
Greek Catholics must believe what the Pope proclaims as divinely revealed truth.

In order to avoid the charge of "digging up the worst Latin theological excesses" from the Dark Ages, here are the august words of Pope Pius VI from the 1967 Apostolic Constitution Indulgentium Doctrina  http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/apost_constitutions/documents/hf_p-vi_apc_19670101_indulgentiarum-doctrina_en.html

"2. It is a divinely revealed truth that sins bring punishments inflicted by God's sanctity and justice. These must be expiated either on this earth through the sorrows, miseries and calamities of this life and above all through death, or else in the life beyond through fire and torments or "purifying" punishments..."

Since this is "divinely revealed truth" neither Roman Catholic nor Greek Catholic may deny it.  In fact the Pope concludes his text by saying that what he has written must stand unchallenged forever.

So the petrine teaching is:

Sins bring punishments

These punishments are inflicted by God

These punishments are performed either on earth or, after death, in purgatory.

The after-death suffering consists of fire and torments and punishments.

Papa locuta est, cause finita est.
 

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Deacon Lance said:
username! said:
Ah but isn't this thread really about what the Greek Catholics believe? 
Yes it is.  The problem is, some Orthodox like to dig up the worst Latin theological excesses and present them as the required belief of Greek Catholics.

username! said:
Why does it always have to come back to this same argument... "this is held by some Orthodox."
Because its a good arguement.  How can Greek Catholics be criticized for believing in Purgatory as defined by the Catechism, when some Orthodox believe in something worse like release from the fore-court of Hell?

Fr. Deacon Lance
What are you talking about?  Please do tell me what a "release from the fore-court of hell" is? 
 

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Deacon Lance said:
 How can Greek Catholics be criticized for believing in Purgatory as defined by the Catechism, when some Orthodox believe in something worse like release from the fore-court of Hell?
What are these "fore-courts"?

Was reading an article recently by Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev called "Orthodox Worship as a School of Theology", and I came across the following quote:-

Bishop Hilarion: "Several years ago I came across a short article in a journal of the Coptic Church where it stated that this Church had decided to remove prayers for those held in hell from its service books, since these prayers 'contradict Orthodox teaching'. Puzzled by this article, I decided to ask a representative of the Coptic Church about the reasons for this move. Recently I had the possibility to do so, and a Coptic Metropolitan replied that the decision was made by his Synod because, according their official doctrine, no prayers can help those in hell. I told the metropolitan that in the liturgical practice of the Russian Orthodox Church and other local Orthodox Churches there are prayers for those held in hell, and that we believe in their saving power. This surprised the Metropolitan, and he promised to study this question in more detail."

Here is the original article ...

http://orthodoxeurope.org/page/12/1.aspx
 

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Irish Hermit said:
Deacon Lance said:
Yes it is.  The problem is, some Orthodox like to dig up the worst Latin theological excesses and present them as the required belief of Greek Catholics.
Greek Catholics must believe what the Pope proclaims as divinely revealed truth.

In order to avoid the charge of "digging up the worst Latin theological excesses" from the Dark Ages, here are the august words of Pope Pius VI from the 1967 Apostolic Constitution Indulgentium Doctrina  http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/apost_constitutions/documents/hf_p-vi_apc_19670101_indulgentiarum-doctrina_en.html

"2. It is a divinely revealed truth that sins bring punishments inflicted by God's sanctity and justice. These must be expiated either on this earth through the sorrows, miseries and calamities of this life and above all through death, or else in the life beyond through fire and torments or "purifying" punishments..."

Since this is "divinely revealed truth" neither Roman Catholic nor Greek Catholic may deny it.  In fact the Pope concludes his text by saying that what he has written must stand unchallenged forever.

So the petrine teaching is:

Sins bring punishments

These punishments are inflicted by God

These punishments are performed either on earth or, after death, in purgatory.

The after-death suffering consists of fire and torments and punishments.

Papa locuta est, cause finita est.
Father,

Popes have issued only two infallible statements by themselves, the above is not one of them.  I feel comfortable in my rejection of the equating of purification and punishment/torment.  That some will judge me a bad Catholci for stating so is unfortunate but I won't waste a minute worrying about it.

The digging I was refering to were apologetic sites like orthodoxinfo, not yourself or anyone on this thread.

Fr. Deacon Lance
 

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Jetavan said:
I'm not sure if that's a helpful teaching or not, but the Council of Trent apparently thought so:
"Whereas the Catholic Church, instructed by the Holy Ghost, has from the Sacred Scriptures and the ancient tradition of the Fathers taught in Councils and very recently in this Ecumenical synod (Sess. VI, cap. XXX; Sess. XXII cap.ii, iii) that there is a purgatory, and that the souls therein are helped by the suffrages of the faithful, but principally by the acceptable Sacrifice of the Altar; the Holy Synod enjoins on the Bishops that they diligently endeavor to have the sound doctrine of the Fathers in Councils regarding purgatory everywhere taught and preached, held and believed by the faithful" (Denzinger, "Enchiridon", 983).
Of course, the Melkites see this as simply a local Council of the Church of Rome.  They do not see it as Ecumenical and its decisions and teachings are not of universal obligation.

I suppose that answers the question posed by the title: "Greek Catholics and Purgatory." 

 

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Irish Hermit said:
Jetavan said:
I'm not sure if that's a helpful teaching or not, but the Council of Trent apparently thought so:
"Whereas the Catholic Church, instructed by the Holy Ghost, has from the Sacred Scriptures and the ancient tradition of the Fathers taught in Councils and very recently in this Ecumenical synod (Sess. VI, cap. XXX; Sess. XXII cap.ii, iii) that there is a purgatory, and that the souls therein are helped by the suffrages of the faithful, but principally by the acceptable Sacrifice of the Altar; the Holy Synod enjoins on the Bishops that they diligently endeavor to have the sound doctrine of the Fathers in Councils regarding purgatory everywhere taught and preached, held and believed by the faithful" (Denzinger, "Enchiridon", 983).
Of course, the Melkites see this as simply a local Council of the Church of Rome.  They do not see it as Ecumenical and its decisions and teachings are not of universal obligation.

I suppose that answers the question posed by the title: "Greek Catholics and Purgatory." 
As far as I know the Melkites are the only EC church which attempts to adhere (at least under their current patriarch) to an ecclesiastical model of the Church as existed in the 900 years. I am not sure Rome today would agree with their (or their patriarch's) position. It seems Rome 'allows' a lot of loose play in these relationships so long as the Pope keeps them with their communion. The rest of the EC's I think go with Rome, in the end, fully.
 

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The Byzantine Catholic Church is in itself a "Purgatory".  Ask ten Latin Catholics what a Byzantine Catholic is, and you'll have ten people looking at you like they have a hangover. (I should know, I used to be Byzantine Catholic)

They should all become Orthodox.
 
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