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."
Yet, as we have grown to expect, the secular media is vastly ignorant of Catholicism.  The Roman Catholic Church has not by this document changed anything - it has only muddied the waters due to their modernistic tendencies. The International Theological Commission is not infallible, and the findings of the Commission are not binding on anyone.

To restate Catholic doctrine: Baptism is necessary for salvation, but the children who have died in the womb or after birth but before the age of reason without Baptism died without the Sacrament through no fault of their own. Original sin still remains on their soul but they could not have committed any actual sins.  So, is it just that they should suffer in Hell? St. Augustine believed that children who die without Baptism would unfortunately have to go to Hell. Yet, as the Church has further understood this reality, this is not the case. Pope St. Pius X and other saints have disagreed and claimed that such children go to an special place called the Limbo of the Infants. The Catechism of St. Pius X states, "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."

Pope Pius VI in Auctorem Fidei on August 28, 1794, particularly countered those who sought to deny the Limbo of the Infants when he wrote:
[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.
Yet even better-than-average news sources like Catholic World News, in an article yesterday claimed, "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." However, this downplays the fact that it has been long believed without being officially defined dogmatically.

1 comment(s):

del_button April 22, 2007 at 9:00 PM
Anonymous 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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