The Origin of Purgatory
There was no mention of Purgatory during the first two centuries of the church. However, when Roman Emperor Theodosius (379-395) decreed that Christianity was to be the official religion of the empire, thousands of pagans flooded into the Church and brought their pagan beliefs and traditions with them. One of those ancient pagan beliefs was a place of purification where souls went to make satisfaction for their sins.
The concept became much more widespread around 600 A.D. due to the fanaticism of Pope Gregory the Great. He developed the doctrine through visions and revelations of a Purgatorial fire. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia (CE), Pope Gregory said Catholics "will expiate their faults by purgatorial flames," and "the pain [is] more intolerable than any one can suffer in this life." Centuries later, at the Council of Florence (1431), it was pronounced an infallible dogma. It was later reaffirmed by the Council of Trent (1564). The dogma is based largely on Catholic tradition from extra-biblical writings and oral history. "So deep was this belief ingrained in our common humanity that it was accepted by the Jews, and in at least a shadowy way by the pagans, long before the coming of Christianity" (CE). It seems incomprehensible that Rome would admit to using a pagan tradition for the defense of one of its most esteemed "Christian" doctrines.
The Deception of Purgatory
Purgatory comes from the Latin word "purgare," which means to make clean or to purify. The Catholic Encyclopedia defines purgatory as "a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God's grace, are not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions." They must be purified of these "venial" sins before they can be allowed into heaven. Here we see Catholicism perpetuating the seductive lie of Satan by declaring "you will not surely die" when you commit venial sins (Gen. 3:4). The Council of Trent dares to declare that "God does not always remit the whole punishment due to sin together with the guilt. God requires satisfaction and will punish sin...The sinner, failing to do penance in this life, may be punished in another world, and so not be cast off eternally from God." (Session 15, Can. XI). Those Catholic Bishops had the audacity to declare that the suffering and death of God's perfect man and man's perfect substitute was not sufficient to satisfy divine justice for sin.
The Motivation for Purgatory
Over the centuries billions of dollars have been paid to Roman Catholic priests to obtain relief from imaginary sufferings in Purgatory's fire. The Catholic clergy has always taught that the period of suffering in Purgatory can be shortened by purchasing indulgences and novenas, buying Mass cards and providing gifts of money. When a Catholic dies, money is extracted from mourning loved ones to shorten the deceased's punishment in Purgatory. When my dear old dad passed away as a devout Catholic of 79 years, I was amazed at the hundreds of Mass cards purchased for him by well-meaning friends. We have heard of other Catholics who have willed their entire estates to their religion so that perpetual masses could be offered for them after they die. It is no wonder that the Catholic religion has become the richest institution in the world. The buying and selling of God's grace has been a very lucrative business for the Vatican.