Pay for someone to get out of Purgatory?

I’m a returning Catholic discussing my choice with my evangelical pastor. One of his arguments against Catholicism is his experience at his mother-in-law’s funeral. According to him, people there were asked to give money to help her get out of Purgatory sooner. I don’t know the context in which this was asked, but I’m hoping he misunderstood it. Is it actually true that Catholics believe you can pay money to get someone out of Purgatory?

No. You cannot pay money to help someone get out of purgatory.

You are reffering to an indulgence.

Read this:

What is an indulgence?

"An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints."81

"An indulgence is partial or plenary according as it removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin."82 The faithful can gain indulgences for themselves or apply them to the dead.83

If you have a Mass offered for someone…it is custom to give a stipend (5 or 10 dollars)…if you cannot pay…you are not refused.

Hope that helps.


Maybe I’m the one misunderstanding now. It sounds like, according to the definition of an indulgence, the church asked for money for indulgences for the pastor’s deceased mother-in-law. The belief of those giving money would be that they would be helping her receive remission from punishment for her sins by their offering. Is this correct?

I am so close to coming back to full communion with the Church but this doesn’t quite sit well with me.

No, you can’t pay to get someone out of Purgatory. He has grossly misunderstood something.

This may have been a play on words from Mat 5:26 where they talk about not getting out until you have paid the last penny.


If something dosnt sit well its 100% because you don’t understand. Trust me indulgences make perfect scriptural since.
I’m going off memory so later on I will give verses. No has or ever could buy someone out of purgatory. You could get an indulgence by offering money that would lesson the temporal penalty. The time that was given to indulgences was applied to how long one would have to do penance for the indulgence not time off in purgatory.
Now there are countless verses in scripture where God has blessed others do to someone else’s righteousness or faith. Entire cities have been save if one man was found righteous. But what where they saved from? Temporal penalties even though sin is forgiven there are still penalties why else would God discipline those whom he loves? If I have a loved one suffering I can certainly ask God if I have pleased him in anyway bless this person in any way shape or form. That’s an indulgence you dnt have to get one by offering money. Its no different than getting a party gift for a non profit donation. Problem is scandle came of this and you had priest having people give money to get an indulgence and that of course was wrong. Hope it helps you really need to order the book salvation controversy by jimmy aken

To Odell, thanks so much for the reply. I agree that I do not understand. I know that the answers are out there and I’m sure they will make sense, along with everything else I am learning (relearning some!) about the faith. I appreciate this forum and the openness to questions that it offers. There is no tenet of faith that is off limits. That is how I knew that by posting my question here, I would receive thoughtful and respectful answers. I have taken your advice on the Jimmy Aiken book and have added it to my Amazon Wish List.

Odell has made an excellent suggestion of Jimmy Akins book.

Indulgences are an interesting thing. Many people misunderstand them, even people who have been Catholic for decades. An indulgence is something that the Church suggests to people to do a deed or deeds that is in the person’s best interest in their faith. It helps a person do what he or she should be doing and then shows there is a benefit in doing it. The Church helps to move us forward by giving an incentive to do what Christ wants us to do, at least this is my understanding of it in my own words.

The Church has the authority to do this because the Church speaks for Christ in time until He comes again.


Monica, that books is on my “to buy” list too! :o For starters, you can also read Jimmy Akin’s article A Primer on Indulgences. :o

With respect, I do not share that opinion at all! :slight_smile: If it doesn’t sit well with you, it doesn’t sit well with you and should be explored, not stifled.

For example, later in your post…

… that was wrong, and only because it didn’t “sit well with somebody”, was the problem corrected.

Of course it should be explored it didn’t sit well with the op because they had problems with how the preacher was interpreting indulgences. It didn’t sit well with me either. Now it does. What’s your issues with indulgences? If you have any its probably because you don’t understand.

Well, you don’t lack confidence, I’ll say that…! :slight_smile:

Since you asked, no, I’m not a big fan of indulgences. And yes, I understand them very well :wink: . I could bore you with the details, but I’m guessing that won’t get us very far, since, I think, we’re starting with different premises. You are giving the Church full confidence on all issues from the get-go, I am not.

Let me start by what you wouldn’t have a problem with because it is scriptural.

  1. Sin results in guilt and punishment
  2. Punishments are both temperal and eternal.
  3. Temperal penalties may remain when a sin is forgiven.
  4. God blesses some people as a reward to others
  5. God remits temperal penalties suffered by some as a reward to others.
    * This is the kicker 1Kings11:11-13. God was clear Solomon’s kingdom was not torn down not for Solomons sakebut for the sake of David. If david had not pleased God. God would have removed the entire kingdom.
    There are other examples. God promised Abraham that if he could find a certain number of righteous men in Sodom he was willing to defer the city’s destruction for the sake of the righteous.