My question is isn't Purgatory assuming just far too much for Orthodoxy to ever accept it as a 'consensual' teaching?
Well, I think so. In truth, it's not consensual; it's the theological opinion of the Latin Church since the time they departed from Orthodoxy; and their belief, as you noticed, is now too far from our Orthodox Faith. If you consider all those "Holy Indulgences" stuffs and things like that you can clearly recognize how the doctrinal understanding of the intermediate state is even more distinguished from ours.
I also read somewhere on the Internet of the main oppositions the Greeks showed at the reunion councils (13th and 15th centuries) before the Emperor of Constantinople brought pressure on them to sign for an agreement (all but one, i.e. saint Mark of Ephesus, accepted the compromise) to allow an alliance between the two Christian empires against the Moslims. Among the differences there was also the point on how is to be defined bliss after death for the saints, damnation after death for the wicked, and even on how
the saints will enjoy the presence of God.
These are very important questions.
The Orthodox clearly affirmed that those that, in the intermediate state, are foretasting Paradise, are in a state of joy but don't possess the fullness of bliss, as well as the damned are not experiencing the fullness of hellfire before the Resurrection. This is due to the fact that the soul alone is in bliss or in damnation, but man is both soul and flesh, and flesh also must be glorified or damned too. At the same time the Orthodox Fathers at the Councils of Basil, Ferrara and Florence put in evidence how they believed that the bliss of Paradise consists in the sharing of the divine energies alone. This is what we call theosis
, i.e. becoming gods by grace (and not by nature, which was the error of Satan, Adam and Eve when they fell). As in the divine nature we divide between the substance of God, which is invisible, and the energies of God, which compenetrate our world, the problem didn't even exist for the Greek Fathers.
On the contrary, the Latin Church advanced a new interpretation. Only Purgatory was an intermediate state. Those in the afterlife have been given the fullness of their joy or damnation. Those who are in Purgatory are already saved, yet. In conclusion, the Final Judgment is nothing but an act to ratify what has already been decided at Personal Judgment! The resurrection of the flesh is believed by RC's but I think they fail to explain why it should occur. About the bliss of Paradise, RC's still use the expression "beatific vision of God" (give a look at the Catechism of the Catholic Church by then cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI). As they believed his energies are created (while the Orthodox consider them as an uncreated or spontaneous production of the substance of God), they thought that the saints can see God directly in his substance! This is completely absurd: if they could they would have died, like Moses said to indicate that "seeing" God's substance is like "melting" in his essence and losing one's identity (a sort of Nirvana, so to say). Only God can see Himself; from a certain point of view, the Glory of God (i.e. his energies) are a veil that keep the Holy of holies separate from the world, and only the man Jesus Christ, like the high priest of Israel, could access it (as he did, as the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews wrote) being God himself.
I think this is everything we should know to understand how the gap between the legalistic theology of the Roman Catholic Church and the mystic theology of the Orthodox Churches is truly deep and can't be reconciled.
In Christ, Alex