Orthodox also say yes to Purgatory


The following is a letter written by Mr. Likoudis to the Editor of "The Catholic Advance", the official paper of the Catholic Diocese of Wichita, Kansas issue of 6/25/2004, correcting questionable assertions published in a column by that paper in its 6/11/2004 issue concerning Purgatory.

September 12, 2003

Letter to the Editor
Catholic Advance
424 N. Broadway
Wichita, Kansas 67202

Dear Editor,

I find the "Ask Father" column in The Catholic Advance an excellent contribution and most helpful to readers.

However, with regard to the article on purgatory (6/11/04), one reads that "Catholics are the only Christian denomination that recognizes purgatory." Abstracting from the questionable notion that the Catholic Church can be reduced to a "denomination", I would note that the faithful of the separated Eastern Orthodox churches remain in general support of the Catholic doctrine as defined in the Reunion Council of Florence (1439 A.D.).

It is true that some Eastern Orthodox today may verbally deny belief in purgatory, but this is in contradiction to the actual liturgical practice of the separated Byzantine Greco-Slav churches professing the efficacy of the Divine Liturgy offered for the deceased as well as prayers and alms offered for their eternal repose.

They also place themselves at odds also with the most important confession of faith made by the Eastern Orthodox since their separation from Rome, i.e., the Confession of Dositheos produced by a Synod convened in Jerusalem in 1672 by the Patriarch Dositheos. There one reads:

"We believe that the souls of those that have fallen asleep are either at rest or in torment, according to what each has wrought. Such as though involved in mortal sins have not departed in despair but have, while still living in the body, repented, though without bringing any fruits of repentance – by pouring forth tears, by afflicting themselves, by relieving the poor, and in fine by showing by their works their love towards God and their neighbor, and which the Church has from the beginning rightly called satisfaction – of these and such like souls depart into Hades – and these endure the punishments due to their sins which they have committed."

The "Hades" mentioned in the above is clearly that "middle state" we Catholics call "purgatory" wherein souls suffer after death. Catholic faith in the existence of a purgatorial state after death is remarkably confirmed by the liturgical and theological tradition concerning the afterlife retained in the separated Eastern churches.

Sincerely yours,
— James Likoudis,
P.O. Box 852,
Montour Falls, NY 14865

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