Hieromonk Maximos, at the Anastasis Dialogue, takes issue with some comments by Father Thomas Hopko on the issue of the Latin Catholic understanding of Purgatory.
There are, in my opinion, some pretty crazy “pious” speculations on the afterlife on both sides of the isle. And it’s crucial to isolate the actual official teachings of the Roman Church on the subject from both the “pious” elaborations (which can be tolerated to an extent) and the misconceptions/polemical distortions of outsiders (which, with a little charity and humility on both sides, can be easily set aside).
The Roman Church only affirms two things about Purgatory: (1) That it exists (that is, a state or process of purification for the faithful departed on their way to eternal bliss); and (2) that we ought to offer our prayers for them here on earth.
As far as I know, the Orthodox beef with Purgatory at the Council of Florence was with an overly literalistic description of the “fires” of Purgatory (again, such things fall outside of the category of official dogma in the Roman Church). There was no dispute over the existence of a kind of purification after death, nor with the idea that our prayers can assist the faithful departed in their preparation to meet the Lord in eternity.
As an Orthodox Christian, I can’t see anything church-dividing here. There are a lot things about the way that Roman Catholics sometimes talk about Purgatory that will be provocative and offensive to Eastern ears; but, again, this should be distinguished from serious dogmatic disagreement.