This is where you debate tactics become dishonest. You know quite well that fire is used symbolically to represent purifying suffereing. Tsk tsk tsk.
I was reading a book which said that purgatorial fire is not part of the official doctrine required for belief of Catholics. Could you kindly provide a link which shows that this book was wrong and that you are right in your statement that it is part of the Latin official doctrine as you have stated here?
The Roman Catholic approach to Tradition is notoriouslyy unstable. Beliefs which have been promulgated by Popes and the Magisterium for centuries and piously believed by the faithful may be altered virtually overnight -if they have not had an "official" promulgation at some stage. "Official" promulgations trimph over the traditional beliefs of the Catholic Church.
It was Pope Gregory in the seventh century who elevated the opinion of the earlier thinkers into a more or less formulated doctrine: "Purgatorial fire will cleanse every elect soul before they come into the Last Judgement." So began the divergent thought that developed over the course of centuries between the Byzantines and Latins.
The Eastern Christian world retained a simpler doctrine of the afterlife that maintained that the souls of the elect, even those who were not particularly holy, would be retained in "a place of light, a place of refreshment, a place from which all sorrow and sighing have been banished." This view reflected the statement in Revelation 14:13 that "those who die in the Lord rest from their labors." In short, the state of afterlife as it was envisaged in the Eastern church was generally a happy and restful condition in which the departed souls of the faithful were not divorced from God, but waited on Judgment Day with hopeful anticipation, as the time when they would be admitted to a transfigured and paradisial condition in proximity to God. [This remains the tradition of the Eastern Orthodox.]
The Latin church, on the other hand, developed its doctrine of purgatory with a more marked stress on that state of painful purification that would attend the souls of all those who had not reached a state of purity before their death.
Modern Roman Catholic theology, after Trent, has clearly moved away from emphasizing the purifying pains of purgatorial fire and instead highlights the need for the living to commemorate the dead who have preceded them.
I stand amazed that you know so little of the teaching of your Church. It is possible to provide the words of Popes and theologians from centuries past which demonstrate that the Catholic Church once taught that purgatorial fire was real material fire. All that you are offering is a modern 20th century revamping of the doctrine - just as questionable as that of previous centuries.
Have you read the Catholic explanation of purgatory offered to the Orthodox at the Council of Florence? The Council spent three months on the question of purgatorial FIRE.
"From the time of the Apostles, the Church of Rome has taught.... The souls of those who after their baptism have sinned, but have afterwards sincerely repented and confessed their sins, though unable to perform the epitimia laid upon them by their spiritual father, or bring forth fruits of repentance sufficient to atone for their sins, these souls are purified by the fire of purgatory
, some sooner, others slower, according, to their sins.." Florence.
"The same fire torments the damned in hell and the just in Purgatory
. The least pain in Purgatory exceeds the greatest in this life." - St. Thomas Aquinas.
" "The truth has been divinely revealed that sins are followed by punishments. God's holiness and justice inflict them. Sins must be expiated. This may be done on this earth through the sorrows, miseries and trials of this life and, above all, through death. Otherwise the expiation must be made in the next life through fire and torments or purifying punishments
." Apostolic Constitution on Indulgences, Pope Paul VI, 1967
Papist, if you do not know the previous teaching of your Church, I urge you to do some study. There is an enormous lot of material on it.