P (Roman Catholic) Answers J's Questions


See J's Questions HERE

P's Answer to J's Question (1)

First on the "keys." Papal authority is seen in Matthew 16:19 since "the keys of the kingdom of heaven" are the keys given to St. Peter, who is the only one of the Apostles ever said directly by Jesus and recognized by the early Church as the Rock upon whom Christ would build His Church, His earthly kingdom, the New Israel. The "keys of the kingdom of heaven" are not said to be given to anyone else in Scripture. The "key to knowledge" or the "keys to the Abyss" (Luke 11:52; Rev 9:1; 20:1) are not the "keys of the kingdom of heaven." These are uniquely given to St. Peter in Matthew 16:19, and to no one else, not an angel, and not any other apostle. The other apostles receive the power to bind and loose (Matthew 18:18; cf. John 20:21-23) but are not given the "keys of the kingdom of heaven." If J can produce a verse of Scripture that says the Pharisees or angels had the "keys of the kingdom of heaven" and are the Rock upon which Christ would build His Church, he might have a point. Since there is no such verse, his statement makes as much logical sense as this:

You claim that the God of Deuteronomy 6:4 is the one God of Israel, yet you don't see the God of Israel in other gods (Psalm 82:6; John 10:34; 2 Cor 4:4). They are all called "God" so why the inconsistency?

or

You claim that the writings or book of 2 Timothy 3:15ff; Rev 1:3; 22:18-19 are the Holy Scriptures, yet you don't see the Scriptures in other books or writings (Numbers 21:14; Joshua 10:13; 2 Sam 1:18; Philip 4:3; Rev 3:5; 5:1ff; 10:8ff; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12,15; 21:27; etc). Why the inconsistency?

The key here (pun intended) is context. The symbol of "keys" in Scripture obviously are a symbol for authority, and God has all that power and authority to delegate how He wishes (Matt 28:18ff; cf. Rev 1:18; 3:7). Angels are given a certain authority ("the key to the Abyss" -- Rev 9:1; 20:1), as are the apostles (the power to bind/loose) and St. Peter uniquely (the keys of the kingdom of heaven with the bind/loose power). Protestant scholars recognize the authority given uniquely to Peter since He is the new "chief steward" of the kingdom of heaven on earth (many Protestant scholars I noted earlier: M. Eugene Boring, Francis Wright Beare, Eduard Schweitzer, R.T. France, Joachim Jeremias, Albright/Mann, F.F. Bruce, etc). Given the background of Matthew 16:19 is Isaiah 22:15-25, there can be only one Chief Steward of Christ's visible Church.

For more, see this article Refutation of James G. McCarthy The Gospel According to Rome

The "key to knowledge" (Luke 11:52) is in the context of the Pharisees; the "key to the Abyss" (Revelation) is the context of angels (stars). However, the context of Matthew 16:19 is -- not the Pharisees or angels, but -- that Peter is the Rock upon whom Christ just said He would build His ecclesia, His Church (Matt 16:18) so that the gates of hell (or powers of death) cannot prevail against that Church; just as Jesus says the house that is built by a wise man upon a rock cannot fall (Matt 7:24ff). Jesus is the wisest man who ever lived, in fact He was God in the flesh (Matt 1:23; John 1:1; Col 2:9). So if Jesus builds His Church, the household of faith (1 Tim 3:14f), on the Rock of Peter, we can be sure that foundation stone is solid; His Church built on Peter cannot fall formally and officially into error and apostasy. Since Jesus is God, His promises about the indefectibility and indestructibility of His Church must be true. The infallibility of the Church is guaranteed by Christ and the Holy Spirit (John 14:16f; 16:13; Matt 28:20; cf. 1 Tim 3:15). And as I have proven throughout this debate, the original apostolic Church was a visible concrete Church in history. So the promises for His Church must apply to that visible historical Church founded by Christ on Peter, not to some invisible or purely "spiritual" Church (or the "elect" only).

The biblical texts J lists (2 Chron 33:4; Isa 43:10; Jer 31:35-37; Heb 13:5; 1 Peter 2:9; 1 John 2:27) do not contradict those promises, they in fact help support them. Why? Because Catholics see the promises made to Israel as being fulfilled in the Church. So what was said of Israel not being destroyed (or of Christ's promises to individual believers) applies supremely to the Church of the New Covenant which is the New Israel or people of God (cf. Gal 3:7ff; 4:23ff; 6:16; Col 2:11ff; 3:12; 1 Peter 2:4ff; Heb 3:2ff; 2 Cor 6:16; Titus 1:1; Romans 2:28f; etc). The differences between the "classic" view (held by the Church Fathers, Catholics, Orthodox, and the original Protestants) and "dispensationalism" (held by J) are outlined in this article by Bob and Gretchen Passantino (Evangelical Lutherans and friends of CRI).

http://answers.org/theology/dispensationalism.html 

The promises made to Israel were conditional upon their acceptance of the Messiah (who is Jesus Christ); therefore all earthly promises to Israel have either been fulfilled in the Church or invalidated through disobedience and unbelief. There is no "inconsistency" as J has alleged.

P's Answer to J's Question (2)

Easy. The appeals to the development of doctrine are made in the Catholic documents themselves. While the development of doctrine is a theory in Catholic theology (not dogma like the Papacy, Confession, Indulgences, Immaculate Conception are), the statement is made in the documents themselves that Catholic doctrines do develop by the Holy Spirit of truth working in Christ's Church. There is a growth in understanding, knowledge, wisdom, teaching. For example,

From Vatican Council I (1870) which defined Papal Infallibility:

"May understanding, knowledge and wisdom increase as ages and centuries roll along, and greatly and vigorously flourish, in each and all, in the individual and the whole church: but this only in its own proper kind, that is to say, in the same doctrine, the same sense, and the same understanding." [referring to St. Vincent of Lerins, Commonitorium (Notebook), 28 (PL 50, 668), from Vatican I at the end of chapter 4 on Faith and Reason].

From Ineffabilis Deus (1854) which defined the Immaculate Conception (read the whole encyclical please):

"And indeed, illustrious documents of venerable antiquity, of both the Eastern and the Western Church, very forcibly testify that this doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the most Blessed Virgin, which was daily more and more splendidly explained, stated and confirmed by the highest authority, teaching, zeal, knowledge, and wisdom of the Church, and which was disseminated among all peoples and nations of the Catholic world in a marvelous manner -- this doctrine always existed in the Church as a doctrine that has been received from our ancestors, and that has been stamped with the character of revealed doctrine. For the Church of Christ, watchful guardian that she is, and defender of the dogmas deposited with her, never changes anything, never diminishes anything, never adds anything to them; but with all diligence she treats the ancient documents faithfully and wisely; if they really are of ancient origin and if the faith of the Fathers has transmitted them, she strives to investigate and explain them in such a way that the ancient dogmas of heavenly doctrine will be made evident and clear, but will retain their full, integral, and proper nature, and will grow only within their own genus -- that is, within the same dogma, in the same sense and the same meaning." (from Pope Pius IX)

Both of these statements affirm a theory of the development of doctrine. There is a growth in understanding, knowledge, wisdom, explanation, teaching; this growth is proper "only within their own genus" or within the same dogma, sense, meaning, etc. It is important to note that the dogmatic definition is what is infallible (De Fide) to be believed by all faithful Catholics today; these other points are themselves not defined dogma. The "theory" of development is a way to account for the historical and theological growth of a particular doctrine (whether the Trinity, the sacraments, the Marian dogmas, or the Papacy).

A book like Ludwig Ott's Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma will show anyone interested the De Fide dogmas of the Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church lays out the beliefs and theology in more popular (but less technically precise) language.

So there is no necessary contradiction between the statement "this doctrine has always been held" by the Catholic Church and "this doctrine has developed" in the life of the Church. It is a fact that J accepts doctrines that have developed in the Catholic Church: the Holy Trinity of Three Divine Persons in one God; the two natures and two wills of Christ; the Incarnation and Hypostatic Union of Christ (neither term is found in Scripture); the 27 book canon of the New Testament. These are the main developments in J's private theology; there are no doubt others. They are deductions and interpretations of the Scriptures, but they are no less developments of doctrine that were defined dogmatically at the early Ecumenical Councils (Nicaea, Constantinople, Ephesus, Chalcedon, and later Councils). This is the same visible, One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church that defined the Trinity, the deity of Christ, Confession, indulgences, the Marian dogmas, and the Papacy. By the fifth century all of these beliefs are fairly well established in the historic Church. As for the sacrament of Confession or Reconciliation, these two statements qualify as ancient witnesses:

ORIGEN of Alexandria (c. 244 AD)

"In addition to these [kinds of forgiveness of sins], albeit hard and laborious: the remission of sins THROUGH PENANCE...when he [the sinner] does not shrink from DECLARING HIS SIN TO A PRIEST OF THE LORD AND FROM SEEKING MEDICINE....In this way there is fulfilled that too, which the Apostle James says: "If, then, there is anyone sick, let him call the PRESBYTERS [where we get PRIESTS] of the Church, and let them impose hands upon him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and if he be in SINS, THEY SHALL BE FORGIVEN HIM [James 5:14-15; cf. John 20:21-23]." (Homilies on Leviticus 2:4)

CYPRIAN of Carthage (c. 250 AD)

"Of how much greater faith and salutary fear are they who...CONFESS THEIR SINS TO THE PRIESTS OF GOD in a straightforward manner and in sorrow, making an open declaration of conscience....Indeed, he but sins the more if, thinking that God is like man, he believes that he can escape the punishment of his crime by not openly admitting his crime....I beseech you, brethren, LET EVERYONE WHO HAS SINNED CONFESS HIS SIN while he is still in this world, while his confession is still admissible, WHILE THE SATISFACTION AND REMISSION MADE THROUGH THE PRIEST ARE STILL PLEASING BEFORE THE LORD." (The Lapsed 28)

There are no such ancient "evangelical doctrines" (meaning anti-Catholic doctrines) in the post-apostolic Church. Discussing the relevant biblical and historical evidence for Catholic doctrines would require another debate. For a defense of the principle of indulgences from Scripture, see the chapter in James Akin's new book The Salvation Controversy. Let's move on.

P's Answer to J's Question (3)

First, let's get the statement of Pius IX on the Immaculate Conception (IC) correct. See the quotation above in my answer (2). The Pope does indeed refer to the IC as a growth or development in doctrine, theology, understanding. J is mistaken. Read the entire encyclical. The Pope also alludes to some who have disputed the belief down through the ages. The purpose of the encyclical was to define the belief as dogma once and for all. At the time this was done, the doctrine was already universally believed by the Catholic Church.

Pius IX Encyclical Ineffabilis Deus

Second, none of the verses J brought up in his opening statement affirm Mary was a sinner (these are Luke 1:47; 2:48-49; Mark 6:3-4; John 2:4; and now Mark 3:20-35). J asserted in his opening statement "she's a sinner saved by grace"; Mary was "not honoring Jesus as she should have"; she was "wrongly implying that Jesus had mistreated her"; and she was "rebuked by Jesus." I didn't need to respond to this since (1) this is a debate about the Church, not specifically the Blessed Mother; (2) none of these verses affirm or teach what J says they do. If he wants to make an argument from any one of them, he can do so. What is gratuitously asserted, can be gratuitously denied: Mary did not commit personal sin.

The Catholic Church believes Mary is all-holy and free from sin (along with the Orthodox, and the Protestant Reformers, see the quote from Calvinist Max Thurian in my 1st rebuttal), even from the first moment of her existence (from her conception).

Why? Third, let's discuss the basis for the IC doctrine according to this encyclical of Pope Pius IX. I must say, after reading the entire encyclical and doing a little detailed study, I am more convinced than ever of the truth of the IC. The argument from "fittingness" and the Divine Maternity (Mary as Theotokos or Mother of God) is what the Pope refers to as the supreme reason for this Marian privilege: "And indeed it was wholly fitting that so wonderful a mother should be ever resplendent with the glory of most sublime holiness and so completely free from all taint of original sin that she would triumph utterly over the ancient serpent" (cf. Genesis 3:15). This is a sufficient reason for the IC by itself: Mary is the Mother of God, so God would want the greatest mother of all (a holy and sinless Mother by the grace of God).

The evidence for the doctrine of the IC (which includes Mary's personal sinlessness) in Scripture is good, but not great. The Pope refers to Genesis 3:15 (the Woman, Eve who disobeyed and fell into sin paralleled by the early Fathers with Mary the New Eve who obeyed and did not fall into sin); Proverbs 8 (the Wisdom of God); Luke chapter 1 (especially Full of Grace [Greek: kecharitomene] and Blessed Among Women); the various Marian types -- the Ark of Noah; holy Ark of the Covenant; Ladder of Jacob; Burning Bush of Moses; the impregnable tower; that garden that cannot be corrupted; the resplendent city of God; the temple of God full of the glory of God; and other types (cf. Luke 1 with 2 Samuel 6; Song of Songs 4:4,12; Psalm 87(86):1; Isaiah 6:1-7; etc). Granted, none of these are compelling arguments for the IC doctrine from purely modern "exegetical" or "grammatical-historical" methods. However, they were compelling for the Church Fathers (and the Church's Liturgy) who used such biblical texts and types for Mary's holiness: 

"In such allusions the Fathers taught that the exalted dignity of the Mother of God, her spotless innocence, and her sanctity unstained by any fault, had been prophesied in a wonderful manner...they celebrated the august Virgin as the spotless dove, as the holy Jerusalem, as the exalted throne of God, as the ark and house of holiness which Eternal Wisdom built, and as that Queen who, abounding in delights and leaning on her Beloved, came forth from the mouth of the Most High, entirely perfect, beautiful, most dear to God and never stained with the least blemish." (Pius IX)

Where did the Fathers get such ideas about the Blessed Mother if they are not found explicitly or implicitly in Scripture or passed on from Christ and His Apostles themselves?

The more compelling argument comes from the Fathers and early ecclesiastical writers who universally affirmed Mary's holiness and sinlessness (with few exceptions). The evidence for the doctrine of the IC (or Mary's personal sinlessness) in the Fathers and Doctors is not just good, but great. Mariologist Juniper Carol sums it up:

"The conviction of the writers relative to her holiness is founded, necessarily, in revealed truth which became more explicit with the passing of time. In denying that she herself had ever sinned, the Fathers placed her merit in a distinct class above the rest of human-kind, and no eulogy was too great to describe her, nor were any words adequate to convey the measure of her holiness. She was "most pure"; "inviolate"; "unstained"; "unspotted"; "blameless"; "entirely immune from sin"; "blessed above all"; "most innocent." If she was free from sin without qualification, then why not also from original sin?" (Juniper Carol, Mariology, volume 1, page 348, and see all the evidence in these three volumes).

The doctrine did undergo a development and some controversy in the life of the Church (as stated by Pius IX in the encyclical). The same can be said for the Holy Trinity, the doctrine of Christ, and the 27 book New Testament which J accepts. The most famous Doctor to dispute the IC is St. Thomas Aquinas, but even he was absolutely clear on the personal sinlessness of the Mother of God:

"Since Mary would not have been a worthy mother of God if she had ever sinned, we assert without qualification that Mary never committed a sinful act, fatal or non-fatal: You are wholly beautiful, my love, and without blemish. Christ is the source of grace, author of it as God and instrument of it as man, and, since Mary was closest to Christ in giving him his human nature, she rightly received from him fullness of grace: grace in such abundance as to bring her closest in grace to its author, receiving into herself the one who was full of every grace [for others], and, by giving birth to him, bringing grace to all." (Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica IIIa:27.4-5)

In short, the IC doctrine is believed not because we explicitly "exegetically" get it out of the Scriptures, but because it was "always" believed in the Catholic Church (with some exceptions), and it is "fitting" that God would have so great a mother.

I'll let J make an argument from Scripture against the IC, then I shall rebut that argument.

P's Answer to J's Question (4)

Again, we need to clarify what Pope Pius XII actually stated. Here are the paragraphs J alludes to:

"And, since we were dealing with a matter of such great moment and of such importance, we considered it opportune to ask all our venerable brethren in the episcopate directly and authoritatively that each of them should make known to us his mind in a formal statement [an encyclical of May 1, 1946 is mentioned]....

"Since the universal Church, within which dwells the Spirit of Truth who infallibly directs it toward an ever more perfect knowledge of the revealed truths, has expressed its own belief many times over the course of the centuries, and since the bishops of the entire world are almost unanimously petitioning that the truth of the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven should be defined as a dogma of divine and Catholic faith -- this truth which is based on the Sacred Writings, which is thoroughly rooted in the minds of the faithful, which has been approved in ecclesiastical worship from the most remote times, which is completely in harmony with the other revealed truths, and which has been expounded and explained magnificently in the work, the science, and the wisdom of the theologians -- we believe that the moment appointed in the plan of divine providence for the solemn proclamation of this outstanding privilege of the Virgin Mary has already arrived." (Pius XII)

Pius XII Encyclical Munificentissimus Deus

A couple things to notice: this encyclical as well refers to a development of doctrine. The infallible Holy Spirit of Truth directs the Church "toward an ever more perfect knowledge of the revealed truths...[and the Assumption] has been expounded and explained magnificently" in the work, science and wisdom of Catholic theologians. Elsewhere this is stated also:

"Various testimonies, indications and signs of this common belief of the Church are evident from remote times down through the course of the centuries, and this same belief becomes more clearly manifest from day to day."; and "[the holy Fathers] presented it more clearly. They offered more profound explanations of its meaning and nature, bringing out into sharper light the fact that this feast shows, not only that the dead body of the Blessed Virgin Mary remained incorrupt, but that she gained a triumph out of death, her heavenly glorification after the example of her only begotten Son, Jesus Christ..." (Pius XII).

Let's summarize: (1) The Pope polled the entire Catholic world (all the bishops) because this was a matter of such great moment and importance (as all Christian doctrines are); (2) the bishops were unanimous that the doctrine should be defined as dogma; (3) the Pope clearly affirmed there was a development of the doctrine in the life of the Church by the Spirit of Truth; (4) the Pope affirmed this belief is based on the Scriptures; (5) the belief is thoroughly rooted in the minds of the Catholic faithful; (6) the belief was approved in liturgical worship from remote times; (7) and the Assumption is completely in harmony with other revealed truths of the Catholic Faith. Let's discuss some of these.

J wants to see the Biblical evidence for the belief. Pius XII refers to several texts and Marian types: the holy Ark of the Covenant; Psalm 132(131):8; Psalm 45(44):10-14; Song of Songs 3:6; 4:8; 6:9; Rev 12:1ff; Luke 1:28. As I said in my previous answer, the Biblical evidence here is not compelling from purely modern "exegetical" or "historical-grammatical" methods. But the Fathers (and the Doctors and Catholic theologians who followed them later) did not believe the doctrine based on these "modern" methods of exegesis. The Fathers and Doctors were not "Sola Scripturists" as modern Protestant "evangelicals" are. Pius XII states in the encyclical:

"Often there are theologians and preachers who, following in the footsteps of the holy Fathers, have been rather free in their use of events and expressions taken from Sacred Scripture to explain their belief in the Assumption. Thus, to mention only a few of the texts rather frequently cited in this fashion, some have employed the words of the psalmist: 'Arise, O Lord, into your resting place: you and the ark, which you have sanctified'; and have looked upon the Ark of the Covenant, built of incorruptible wood and placed in the Lord's temple, as a type of the most pure body of the Virgin Mary, preserved and exempt from all the corruption of the tomb and raised up to such glory in heaven.

"Treating of this subject, they also describe her as the Queen entering triumphantly into the royal halls of heaven and sitting at the right hand of the divine Redeemer. Likewise they mention the Spouse of the Canticles 'that goes up by the desert, as a pillar of smoke of aromatical spices, of myrrh and frankincense' to be crowned. These are proposed as depicting that heavenly Queen and heavenly Spouse who has been lifted up to the courts of heaven with the divine Bridegroom.

"Moreover, the scholastic Doctors have recognized the Assumption of the Virgin Mother of God as something signified, not only in various figures of the Old Testament, but also in that woman clothed with the sun whom John the Apostle contemplated on the Island of Patmos. Similarly they have given special attention to these words of the New Testament: 'Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women,' since they saw, in the mystery of the Assumption, the fulfillment of that most perfect grace granted to the Blessed Virgin and the special blessing that countered the curse of Eve."

The Assumption is not "exegetically" arrived at from these texts of Scripture, but is a theological conclusion from the truth of the Blessed Mother's personal holiness, sinlessness, and Immaculate Conception. Pius XII states: "She, by an entirely unique privilege, completely overcame sin by her Immaculate Conception, and as a result she was not subject to the law of remaining in the corruption of the grave, and she did not have to wait until the end of time for the redemption of her body." Pius XII also mentions an indirect historical proof of the Assumption: "Finally, since the Church has never looked for the bodily relics of the Blessed Virgin nor proposed them for the veneration of the people, we have a proof on the order of a sensible experience." Also Pius XII mentions and quotes numerous Fathers and Doctors of the Church who explicitly believed in the Assumption (St. John Damascene, St. Germanus of Constantinople, Amadeus [bishop of Lausarme], St. Anthony of Padua, St. Albert the Great, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Bonaventure, St. Bernardine of Siena, St. Robert Bellarmine, St. Francis of Sales, St. Alphonsus, St. Peter Canisius).

All true Christians will eventually be sinless and bodily assumed (resurrected and glorified) in heaven. The Blessed Virgin Mary, being a type of the Church as all the Fathers taught, is an example of the perfected Christian in heaven (cf. the holy, stainless, blameless Church mentioned in Ephesians 5:25-33; Heb 12:22ff; Rev 21:1ff). Mary received that perfected state (in soul and body) before the rest of Christ's Church by the grace of God. This was only fitting for the Mother of God; so there is nothing "unbiblical" about the Marian doctrines unless J wishes to deny the Incarnation.

I realize I went over 1000 words the last two questions, hope J does not make a big fuss. Next one is on purgatory.

P's Answer to J's Question (5)

I have looked up all these texts, and none of them are incompatible with or contradicted by a belief in purgatory. Purgatory is no more incompatible with these texts of Scripture than are the trials, tribulations, sufferings, and "fires" we go through during this life of testing and pilgrimage, when we finally receive the end of our faith, "the salvation of your souls" (1 Peter 1:6-9). This is a text the Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraphs 1030-1032) says alludes to purgatory, along with 1 Corinthians 3:13-15.

J has already said "I don't object to prayers for the dead" in his second rebuttal (when I misunderstood him -- he meant originally prayers to the saints, I thought he meant praying for the dead), so I will appeal to 2 Maccabees 12:42-46 which affirms prayers for the dead "that they might be delivered from their sin" (2 Macc 12 RSV). This shows the belief was a Jewish custom around the time of Jesus and His Apostles. It was also universally believed in the early Catholic Church (explicitly from at least Tertullian forward).

Being at peace, having joy, going to be with the Lord (Phil 1:21-23; 2 Cor 5:6-8; etc) whenever this life ends is perfectly sound Catholic doctrine. The Catholic Church does not teach one should have no peace, no joy, etc and does not teach a believer HAS to go to purgatory, but those who are not fully purified and "sanctified completely in spirit and soul" (1 Thess 5:23; Heb 12:14) would need to be purified. Scripture teaches heaven is a perfect place for perfected people (Matt 5:48; Eph 5:27; Heb 12:23; Rev 21:27). Scripture also teaches we can and will suffer with Christ to achieve greater righteousness and holiness (Rom 8:17-18; 2 Cor 1:5-7; Col 1:24; 2 Cor 3:18; Heb 12:1-14; 1 Peter 4:1, 12-16; Acts 14:22; etc), for God is a "consuming fire" (Heb 12:29; Mal 3:2-3). If that does not necessarily contradict the joy and peace we are said to have, neither would post-mortem suffering and sanctification. A person in purgatory is absolutely saved, they ARE going to heaven. To quote the Catechism:

1030. All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.

1031. The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect....

1032. This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: "Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin." From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God....

That is it from the Catechism on purgatory, so it is not a "major" Catholic belief (compared with the number of paragraphs on the Eucharist, the Church, and the Creed). The belief is strongly held and defended by the early Fathers (most especially and clearly in St. Augustine), and is not contradicted by the Biblical texts J lists. King David did commit gross sins, but in fact repented: Psalm 51 teaches sins must be "blotted out," "washed thoroughly," "cleansed," etc not merely "covered over."

For more, one can see the Catholic Answers tract on purgatory here. I'll cut my answer short since I went over in the previous two answers.

P

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