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Saturday, April 21, 2007
The Limbo of the Infants

There is a great controversy over the news release yesterday, which stated the Pope had "buried" the concept of the Limbo of the infants (limbus infantium). Let me start by clarifying that the Limbo of the Fathers (limbus patrum) - the place where the holy people who died before Christ was resurrected - still is part of Catholic Theology. The Limbo of the infants, called Limbo for short, was the only idea addressed yesterday.

Here is part of an article by Reuters:

The Roman Catholic Church has effectively buried the concept of limbo, the place where centuries of tradition and teaching held that babies who die without baptism went. In a long-awaited document, the Church's International Theological Commission said limbo reflected an "unduly restrictive view of salvation," according to the U.S.-based Catholic News Service, which obtained a copy on Friday.

The thumbs-down verdict on limbo had been expected for years and the document, called "The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptised," was seen as most likely to be final since limbo was never formally part of Church doctrine. Pope Benedict authorized the publication of the document. According to the CNS report, the 41-page document says the theologians advising the Pope concluded that since God is merciful he "wants all human beings to be saved."
The media is attempting to make it seem as if Limbo was always a firm dogma. It wasn't! The Limbo of the infants was just a "theological hypothesis". In reality, no one knows the fate of children who die without the Sacrament of Baptism. Baptism is necessary for salvation, but these children may have never had the opportunity to become baptized. St. Augustine took a different approach and believed that children who die without Baptism would unfortunately have to go to Hell. Pope St. Pius X and numerous other saints have disagreed and claimed that such children go to an special place called Limbo (see bottom of post). Personally, I will continue believing in the Limbo of the infants.

All of this is just a theological hypothesis. We do not know the fate of such children even after the report by the International Theological Commission because the Commission is not infallible either. The findings of the Commission are not binding to anyone!

From a Catholic World News article of yesterday: "Limbo has never been defined as church dogma and is not mentioned in the current Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states simply that unbaptized infants are entrusted to God's mercy."

The Catechism of Pope St. Pius X:

11 Q. When should infants be brought to the Church to be baptised?
A. Infants should be brought to the Church to be baptised as soon as possible.

12 Q. Why such anxiety to have infants receive Baptism?
A. There should be the greatest anxiety to have infants baptised because, on account of their tender age, they are exposed to many dangers of death, and cannot be saved without Baptism.

Auctorem Fidei by Pope Pius VI, August 28, 1794:

[Errors of the Synod of Pistoia.] The doctrine which rejects as a Pelagian fable that place of the lower regions (which the faithful generally designate by the name of limbo of the children) in which the souls of those departing with the sole guilt of original sin are punished with the punishment of the condemned, exclusive of the punishment of fire [...] is false, rash, injurious to Catholic schools.

Further information on Limbus Infantium:
Image Source: REUTERS/Tony Gentile (ITALY)


del_button April 21, 2007 at 5:24 PM
Aristotle said...

It ought to be noted that the media, as usual, got this one wrong. This theological commission has no magisterial authority and the Pope simply accepted a report. He did not endorse its teachings and has not taught that there is no such thing as Limbo. No Church teaching changed, even though the media, as usual, jumps at any opportunity to make it look as if the Church is changing. It is absolutely reprehensible coverage and proves that one should wait for documents to be taught by bishops, and NOT by secular media, who wouldn’t know anything about Limbo or Catholic doctrine if it jumped up and bit them. The media clearly has a secular and “progressive” agenda, which would love to see Church changes in other areas, such as women in the priesthood, etc. Those things won’t change either.

For further information, check out the blog, Zadok the Roman.

del_button April 22, 2007 at 9:00 PM
katoliko said...

"St. Augustine took a different approach and believed that children who die without Baptism would unfortunately have to go to Hell. Pope St. Pius X and numerous other saints have disagreed and claimed that such children go to an special place called Limbo"

Isn't limbo in hell, but the babies do not feel pain?

anyways, thanks for the post for clarifying that articles like this have no authority. too many are already celebrating that all babies with original sin are going into heaven and that baptism is no longer necessary. man is this a mess.

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