Love, Purification, and Forgiveness versus Justice, Punishment, and Satisfaction: The Debates on Purgatory and the Forgiveness of Sins at the Council of Ferrara – Florence by Fr. D. Bathrellos
A significant part of the debates at the Council of Ferrara-Florence was dedicated to the question of purgatory and more generally of the forgiveness of sins after death. Both Latins and Greeks agreed that there are Christians who belong to the so-called ‘middle state’ and who, assisted by the suffrages of the Church, will in due course join the group of the saved. But they disagreed as to how these souls will attain to salvation. The Latins emphasized divine justice, punishment, and satisfaction. Divine justice demands that those who have failed to offer full satisfaction for sins forgiven in this life will have to go through fiery punishment in purgatory, until due satisfaction is eventually offered. The Greeks, on the other hand, emphasized God’s love and forgiveness. They repudiated the idea of purgatory and of material fire burning (immaterial) souls, and rejected the Latin view that souls are punished for sins already forgiven. They argued that the souls of people who die with unforgiven minor sins will experience spiritual sufferings in the afterlife, which, however, are not divine punishments but self-inflicted consequences of these sins. These souls will eventually be purified and saved thanks to God’s love and forgiveness.