I am a Roman Catholic and I ask this question as one, but I'm also interested in understanding the answers that other christian denominations may have to my question. So, feel free to share here your conviction, even if you aren't Catholic. Here's the question!

Considering that:

  1. The Catholic Church states that each one of us, human persons, are not just body or soul and that we also are not just a agglutination of both, but an unity that is formed by the mix of the two;

  2. The Catholic Church also states that, after we die, our soul is separeted from the body;


  1. What happens to us after we die? Do we live as just souls until the Final Judgment, when we will finaly get a new body?

  2. If we cannot say that we, as human persons, are not just a soul or just body, as catholics, how could we say that, after death, we would still be human? I mean, if being human is to be an unity of body and soul, how could we still be humans once separated from our bodies?

I hope I was clear in my question. And if I comited a mistake in my exposition of catholic belief, please correct me.


  • Some non-Catholics might say we are spiritual beings who have a soul and live in a body. The body dies, the soul can die, the spirit lives on. – Mike Borden Aug 23 at 19:13
  • @L.Siqueira This recent (2016) article My Soul Is Not Me: Thomas Aquinas on Human Nature and the Afterlife should give you a good philosophical basis on Catholic understanding of the nature of the soul to which the doctrine of Purgatory makes sense. The Protestant counterpart which denies purgatory can also buy into this philosophical description of the soul, but they instead say that the soul is sleeping until being joined with the resurrected body. – GratefulDisciple Aug 23 at 19:30
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    @MikeBorden the soul can die? Catholics teach this? – Kris Aug 23 at 23:08
  • @Kris I'm not Catholic. OP said non-Catholic input is welcome. – Mike Borden Aug 24 at 0:19
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    I see that now@MikeBorden Unusual for me to see a different denomination speak of a soul dying. Immortality of the soul a common teaching does not allow for a soul to die does it? – Kris Aug 24 at 0:26

Does the Catholic Church believe that we become just souls after we die?

The short answer is yes!

But the Catholic Church also teaches that when we die, our souls are separated from our earthly bodies. However our earthly bodies will be reunited with our souls at the general judgement.

This is why the Church technically refers to souls in Heaven as saints and not as persons. For the human person is technically composed as having a soul united with an earthly body! This will all change at the end of times!

Nevertheless, many refer to the saints in Heaven as saints. The souls in purgatory are interestingly enough referred to as the Souls in Purgatory!

Our Church teaches that immediately after death, our soul separates from our earthly body and we stand before God for judgement. We then enter heaven, Purgatory or hell.

Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness. Those who are free from all sin enter heaven immediately.

Purgatory is a place of purification, for those who die in a state of grace and friendship with God but who are not yet fully purified. Those in Purgatory are assured a place in heaven after their purification. We pray for those in Purgatory, that they may soon be with God in heaven.

Hell is for those who have willingly chosen to reject God and his love. If we persist in a state of serious sin, we damn ourselves to hell.

At the end of time, our Lord will come again to judge the living and the dead. All souls will be rejoined with their bodies, and those in Purgatory will be joined to the blessed in heaven. The Last Judgement will reveal that God’s justice triumphs over all the injustices committed by his creatures and that God’s love is stronger than death. What Happens to Us After We Die?

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  • Thanks for your answer! But, as you see it, does it mean that we cease to be human until the time of ressurrection? – L. Siqueira Aug 25 at 0:57
  • @L.Siqueira That is correct; it is the crux of the matter! – Ken Graham Aug 25 at 19:54

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