This headline caught my eye today “Pelosi in Political Purgatory”. Really? Purgatory? Do tell. So I read the first 3 paragraphs. Apparently the journalist has Purgatory and Limbo confused because she says: “Pelosi gavels in the lame duck session of Congress this week in a state of political purgatory, suspended between the past and future.”
My best guess is this journalist has no clue what Purgatory is and since Pelosi and Political start with “P” using Purgatory makes a catchy headline. But to set the record straight, those in Purgatory have attained salvation; just not yet. The outcome of Purgatory is crystal clear; entrance into heaven. So to say that former (well, soon-to-be-former) Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is in political purgatory should mean that she is destined for greater things and that before long her current trials will pass.
Limbo on the other hand is a never-officially-taught-by-the-Church idea of a place where people go that isn’t quite hell but also isn’t exactly heaven. I’m pretty sure the journalist who wrote the above article was thinking of limbo.
When you hear or see things like this said by people around you—especially in the media where they reach a huge number of eyes—please take the time to articulate what their use of Catholic terms actually means and that we don’t appreciate their misuse simply to make a good headline. These sorts of things are an opportunity for education; let's make sure not to pass them up.