So "purgatory" (roughly speaking) is a place where, according to Roman Catholics, those who die in the Lord go to be purged from the stains of earthly sins. I have heard it explained as a penalty for sin or as a purification to cleanse the soul (or both). We'll come back to that in a moment, after we look at "indulgences". I should also mention: Purgatory is often portrayed as unpleasant or painful.
And "indulgences" are the Roman Catholic church's grant of remission or pardon, including shortening the time in purgatory for the dearly departed.
Here are the things that don't make sense to me, looking at those two doctrines side by side:
If "purgatory" is necessary in order to cleanse the soul, then how can that time be shortened and still do the necessary job of purification? If someone were released from purgatory before being thoroughly cleansed, could they enter paradise? Or if the necessary job of cleansing the soul were complete, why were they still in purgatory? We might even ask, if they were still in purgatory after being cleansed, was it simply as punishment? And if they remained as punishment, then where is the forgiveness of sins?
Or if someone were to say that purgatory is not painful or unpleasant -- then where is the benefit of indulgences at all? Why would we want early release, if purgatory were not painful?
So to sum up: If we say the time in purgatory is endured out of necessity, then how can there be any change in the duration? Or if a change in duration is a mercy that can be done and still meet the need, then why is that mercy not always shown, since we've already agreed it meets the need? If we say that time in purgatory is not endured out of necessity, then why is it done at all?
These are the questions in my mind about purgatory that are raised by the church's claim to grant indulgences.