Is there such a place as purgatory?

The Catholic doctrine of purgatory teaches that there is a temporal punishment to be endured, either on earth or after death, by those who believe and have been baptized, for venial sins (pardonable offenses) or sins that have gone unconfessed or unpunished -- since all sin requires punishment regardless of forgiveness. For all but the most ascetic or those who have been martyred, purgatory is a place somewhere between hell and heaven where the souls of the dead spend time being purged of unrepetant sin through suffering and are purified before going to heaven. Various acts from the living on behalf of those in purgatory may assist in loosening them from their bonds of sins and shortening their time, including prayers, Mass, good deeds, confession, acts of devotion, and indulgences. (Indulgences are monetary or service contributions to the Church or other useful public projects, which is not generally practiced anymore by the Roman Catholic Church due to past abuses.) The reason for this is that all believers are of one body, whether living, dead, or resurrected. Purgatory was originally a Jewish belief, whereby the living could sacrifice in the Temple on behalf of those who had died before being forgiven of their sins, such as was recorded in the apocryphal book of 2 Maccabees 12:39-46, where Judas Machabeus offered a great sum of silver to the Temple for sacrifice on behalf of those slain in battle who carried idols of graven images.

The biblical basis for this doctrine is primarily 1 Peter 3:19, where it is mentioned that Jesus preached the gospel to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago (which is actually a reference to 2 Peter 2:4, identifying these spirits as fallen angels). Other supposed scriptural references to purgatory include Matthew 5:25-26 (you will never get out of prison until you have paid the last penny), John 5:25 (a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live), and 1 Corinthians 3:13-15 (if any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through fire).

        "He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom he also went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built." (1 Peter 3:18-20)
        "For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell [Tartarus], putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people..." (2 Peter 2:4-5)
        "And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home -- these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day." (Jude 6)
        "When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose... The Nephilim were on the earth in those days --and also afterward-- when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them..." (Genesis 6:1-2, 4)

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Reference sources: Catholic Answers (; - Early Christian History as Viewed by Roman Catholics (; Fast Facts on False Teachings - Roman Catholicism (chapter 14, pp 211-232), by Ron Carlson and Ed Decker, ©1994 by Harvest House Publishers; New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia (; Wikipedia (