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  #1  
Old Jun 21, '10, 7:23 am
Catholic20064 Catholic20064 is offline
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Default My unbaptized baby won't go to heaven!

A speaker in my wife's Mormon sacrament meeting declared yesterday that her Catholic sister was upset because her baby had died during childbirth and couldn't go to heaven. The Mormon used this as an example of Catholic stupidity declaring that it is terrible that Catholics don't declare that unbaptized babies are saved. I tried to explain to my ex-Catholic wife that the Catholic Church does not teach that unbaptized babies are barred from heaven, but she declared that's what she was taught in her religion classes as a teenager. Is there any evidence that Catholics taught that limbo was simply an opinion rather than a fact prior to the recent catechism? Are there theologians prior to the 20th century who claimed it was possible that unbaptized little children might enter heaven?
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Old Jun 21, '10, 7:33 am
Tantum ergo Tantum ergo is offline
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Default Re: My unbaptized baby won't go to heaven!

this is from the Baltimore Catechism which is probably what your wife studied.

Q. 632. Where will persons go who -- such as infants -- have not committed actual sin and who, through no fault of theirs, die without baptism?
A. Persons, such as infants, who have not committed actual sin and who, through no fault of theirs, die without baptism, cannot enter heaven; but it is the common belief they will go to some place similar to Limbo, where they will be free from suffering, though deprived of the happiness of heaven.

Note that she either didn't listen past 'cannot enter heaven' or is confused.

Note it says "common belief', not 'infallible Church teaching'.

Note that it says "similar to Limbo", free from suffering, etc.

And note again "common belief." We know that those unbaptized (either water, blood, or desire) cannot normally enter Heaven but we trust to the mercy of God. They 'cannot' enter without baptism normally but we do not know with certainty God's decision; that is why the correct teaching regarding the norm was given but the fate of infants was only noted as a 'common belief'.
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Old Jun 21, '10, 7:43 am
Catholic20064 Catholic20064 is offline
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Default Re: My unbaptized baby won't go to heaven!

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Originally Posted by Tantum ergo View Post
this is from the Baltimore Catechism which is probably what your wife studied.

Q. 632. Where will persons go who -- such as infants -- have not committed actual sin and who, through no fault of theirs, die without baptism?
A. Persons, such as infants, who have not committed actual sin and who, through no fault of theirs, die without baptism, cannot enter heaven; but it is the common belief they will go to some place similar to Limbo, where they will be free from suffering, though deprived of the happiness of heaven.

Note that she either didn't listen past 'cannot enter heaven' or is confused.

Note it says "common belief', not 'infallible Church teaching'.

Note that it says "similar to Limbo", free from suffering, etc.

And note again "common belief." We know that those unbaptized (either water, blood, or desire) cannot normally enter Heaven but we trust to the mercy of God. They 'cannot' enter without baptism normally but we do not know with certainty God's decision; that is why the correct teaching regarding the norm was given but the fate of infants was only noted as a 'common belief'.
There would have been no need for her to read any further. "Cannot enter heaven" is a definitive statement even if there is disagreement on where the unbaptized infant might go. The current catechism says they might indeed gain entry into heaven, but this older catechism does indeed say "cannot". Of course I am not sure what weight the Baltimore Catechism has in comparison to the current catechism. I'm assuming the Baltimore catechism had approval of local Bishops while the current catechism has the approval of the entire church.
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Old Jun 21, '10, 7:50 am
Tantum ergo Tantum ergo is offline
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Default Re: My unbaptized baby won't go to heaven!

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Originally Posted by Catholic20064 View Post
There would have been no need for her to read any further. "Cannot enter heaven" is a definitive statement even if there is disagreement on where the unbaptized infant might go. The current catechism says they might indeed gain entry into heaven, but this older catechism does indeed say "cannot". Of course I am not sure what weight the Baltimore Catechism has in comparison to the current catechism. I'm assuming the Baltimore catechism had approval of local Bishops while the current catechism has the approval of the entire church.
Right. And of course, the thing is, they cannot under normal circumstances. I think that too often people assume that the current teaching which is a deeper understanding that even though the norm is that they cannot, anything is possible with God, automatically 'negates' the earlier teaching. It doesn't.

Now I think that people ASSUME that God is going to 'let' babies into heaven no matter that they were not baptized. It is true that God could do this but it is by no means certain that He will.

In which case, if we die and find out that indeed, unbaptized babies are not in heaven but are in a place of natural happiness--well, then that is what God decided and obviously as God's decision it is perfectly just and merciful.
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Old Jun 21, '10, 8:08 am
Catholic20064 Catholic20064 is offline
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Default Re: My unbaptized baby won't go to heaven!

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Originally Posted by Tantum ergo View Post
Right. And of course, the thing is, they cannot under normal circumstances. I think that too often people assume that the current teaching which is a deeper understanding that even though the norm is that they cannot, anything is possible with God, automatically 'negates' the earlier teaching. It doesn't.

Now I think that people ASSUME that God is going to 'let' babies into heaven no matter that they were not baptized. It is true that God could do this but it is by no means certain that He will.

In which case, if we die and find out that indeed, unbaptized babies are not in heaven but are in a place of natural happiness--well, then that is what God decided and obviously as God's decision it is perfectly just and merciful.
I agree with what you are saying to some extent, but my bias is that God will be merciful to little children who missed the opportunity for baptism and bring them into heaven. Unfortunately, the current lack of clarity on this subject leaves it an open door for many non-Catholics to bash Catholicism whether they be Mormons or Baptists or some other tradition. The idea that unbaptized infants might not enter God's presence is a teaching which doesn't make sense to most people and indeed seems harsh in some respects.
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Old Jun 21, '10, 8:12 am
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KathleenGee KathleenGee is offline
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Default Re: My unbaptized baby won't go to heaven!

There such a thing as baptism of desire.

Anyone working with little children can see that they are naturally drawn to God...and any Catholic parent would baptize their infant. My in-laws have their infants baptized later.

But as what happened in this case, the infant died before that time. I have mine baptized as soon as possible because of baptism's grace, and of untold future events.
  #7  
Old Jun 21, '10, 8:19 am
Catholic20064 Catholic20064 is offline
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Default Re: My unbaptized baby won't go to heaven!

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Originally Posted by KathleenGee View Post
There such a thing as baptism of desire.

Anyone working with little children can see that they are naturally drawn to God...and any Catholic parent would baptize their infant. My in-laws have their infants baptized later.

But as what happened in this case, the infant died before that time. I have mine baptized as soon as possible because of baptism's grace, and of untold future events.
Some people have tried to tell me a little child cannot reason and is thus unable to have a baptism of desire. That doesn't make sense to me. I agree the main reason children need baptism is to obtain the infusion of grace that results from the indelible mark of baptism.
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Old Jun 21, '10, 8:25 am
CatholicGuyNY CatholicGuyNY is offline
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Default Re: My unbaptized baby won't go to heaven!

Firstly, everyone should read this statement by the Vatican:

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/co...nfants_en.html

It seems that the Catholic Church has historically taught that unbaptized infants do not go to Heaven, nor do they go to Hell proper. Therefore, the idea of Limbo of the Infants was developed. Now, the Church teaches that while we can still believe that unbaptized infants go to Limbo of the Infants, we can also hope that God, in His mercy, saves them. The reason why there is no clear teaching on what happens to them is because, as the article states, there is no definitive revelation on the issue. The Bible does not say "unbaptized infants are saved/unsaved", nor is there anything in Sacred Tradition on the issue. Instead, the Vatican says that based on what we do know, there is grounds for prayerful hope that unbaptized infants are saved, though this is not a "sure knowledge". I think that those that believe in Limbo also find their belief based on the revelation that we have in the Bible and Tradition.

I wonder what the other ancient Churches (Eastern Orthodox, Orientals) say about this.
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Old Jun 21, '10, 8:28 am
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KathleenGee KathleenGee is offline
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Default Re: My unbaptized baby won't go to heaven!

CatholicGuyNT,

Yes, your position is correct. It is not definitive. I privately believe the mother's intention 'baptized' the baby as well.

I have yet to be in a public Catholic setting where any other religion is openly denigrated.
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Old Jun 21, '10, 8:31 am
Catholic20064 Catholic20064 is offline
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Default Re: My unbaptized baby won't go to heaven!

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Originally Posted by CatholicGuyNY View Post
Firstly, everyone should read this statement by the Vatican:

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/co...nfants_en.html

It seems that the Catholic Church has historically taught that unbaptized infants do not go to Heaven, nor do they go to Hell proper. Therefore, the idea of Limbo of the Infants was developed. Now, the Church teaches that while we can still believe that unbaptized infants go to Limbo of the Infants, we can also hope that God, in His mercy, saves them. The reason why there is no clear teaching on what happens to them is because, as the article states, there is no definitive revelation on the issue. The Bible does not say "unbaptized infants are saved/unsaved", nor is there anything in Sacred Tradition on the issue. Instead, the Vatican says that based on what we do know, there is grounds for prayerful hope that unbaptized infants are saved, though this is not a "sure knowledge". I think that those that believe in Limbo also find their belief based on the revelation that we have in the Bible and Tradition.

I wonder what the other ancient Churches (Eastern Orthodox, Orientals) say about this.
Perhaps the reason this is so important to many parents is that claiming a baby cannot enter heaven also means they will not be united to their unbaptized children in heaven. While Catholics don't believe in "eternal families" as Mormons do, we do believe that our saved family members will be intimately united with us in heaven. Would God deprive the saved from union with their unbaptized children?
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Old Jun 21, '10, 8:34 am
Tantum ergo Tantum ergo is offline
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Default Re: My unbaptized baby won't go to heaven!

We need to trust God, though.

The minute that we start saying that a teaching 'must be wrong' because it doesn't make sense to us, seems too 'harsh', that's the time that we must be careful that we aren't trying to impose our limited, fallible, finite human will over God's divine, perfect, unlimited and infinite will.

IOW, don't worry so much over what 'other people will think'. If the teaching is true, then it will stay true whether your Mormon friends complain or not.

As I said, the teaching in the catechism has not changed. Baptism is STILL as it has always been the 'norm' for entrance into heaven for all of us born now after Christ's life, death and resurrection and the establishment of His Church with the authority to teach and to be guided by the Holy Spirit into all Truth.

However, we know that no people were baptized prior to Christ's life on earth. Does that mean that all those who died without baptism prior to Christ's appearance on earth were denied heaven? By no means. And surely 'unborn infants' were part of those people. We can trust that God will be just.
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Old Jun 21, '10, 8:37 am
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Default Re: My unbaptized baby won't go to heaven!

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Originally Posted by Catholic20064 View Post
Perhaps the reason this is so important to many parents is that claiming a baby cannot enter heaven also means they will not be united to their unbaptized children in heaven. While Catholics don't believe in "eternal families" as Mormons do, we do believe that our saved family members will be intimately united with us in heaven. Would God deprive the saved from union with their unbaptized children?

Um, this is going to sound awkward but you know, some of us will have family members who have chosen hell. Thus, if we attain heaven (as we hope to do), we are NOT going to be in union with those members in hell.

Now none of us 'deserves' heaven on our own merits (including unborn infants).

I agree, it would be a great grace if God does permit the children into heaven but it is not because the children 'deserve' heaven simply by virtue of being without personal sin.
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Old Jun 21, '10, 8:39 am
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Default Re: My unbaptized baby won't go to heaven!

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Originally Posted by Catholic20064 View Post
Some people have tried to tell me a little child cannot reason and is thus unable to have a baptism of desire. That doesn't make sense to me. I agree the main reason children need baptism is to obtain the infusion of grace that results from the indelible mark of baptism.
Since infants in Catholic and some mainstream Protestant faiths do believe in, and practice, Baptism of infants as a means to Salvation, it seems logical to me that the desire for Baptism on the part of the parents could also constitute the desire for their child on behalf of them.

Does that make sense?

Though the child is too young to fully comprehend the Sacrament, perhaps the parents desire would substitue for that of the pre-term infant. That is my personal hope and prayer for the baby that I lost, though as someone above stated, I trust in the mercy of our Savior to leave no little ones behind.

My understanding of this situation is that since there is no dogmatic belief stated by the CC, people are free to believe as they see fit. Faith and trust in God should be the underlying belief in any unproclaimed areas of church teaching.

BTW, the Mormons believe in Baptism of the dead, (even that of total strangers to the proxy performing the temple rituals), which is totally contrary to the need for willing consent that many non-mainline and Evangelical Protestant churches believe. So theories abound on the subject. The bottom line is that we must trust that God will leave no one behind if he wants to. His desire is that all mankind be saved and reside with him. It is man who separates himself from the will of God.
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Old Jun 21, '10, 8:39 am
CatholicGuyNY CatholicGuyNY is offline
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Default Re: My unbaptized baby won't go to heaven!

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Originally Posted by Catholic20064 View Post
Perhaps the reason this is so important to many parents is that claiming a baby cannot enter heaven also means they will not be united to their unbaptized children in heaven. While Catholics don't believe in "eternal families" as Mormons do, we do believe that our saved family members will be intimately united with us in heaven. Would God deprive the saved from union with their unbaptized children?
Right, this is a very emotional issue, and no one can imagine a Heaven without their children, especially when they didn't receive something through no fault of their own. I think that this is why the "prayerful hope" position is very attractive and the Church believes that this is a more consistent position based on what has been Revealed, rather than the Limbo belief. The Church also teaches that we don't have "sure knowledge" on the issue (like how we can say that if you die in mortal sin, you go to Hell). With this, its more like: if an unbaptized infant dies, we hope and have strong reasons to believe that God saves them, but we don't know for sure.

But yes, I can't imagine Heaven without one's unbaptized infant children, who did nothing wrong (hence why they also can't go to Hell to be punished for personal sins, since they don't have any).
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Old Jun 21, '10, 8:45 am
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KathleenGee KathleenGee is offline
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Default Re: My unbaptized baby won't go to heaven!

One thing that is coming to mind is the unbaptized infants who were aborted or were born of 'lost' parents and died. I can't see them in hell....but see them as waiting our prayers of 'baptism'....to bring them into heaven...like they are in the highest level of purgatory where they have no pain, they have the pleasure of seeing God face to face but need our prayers in Jesus Christ in the prayer of desire of baptism to release them....

just a thought...I had a prayer card from some pro life people that prayed the Apostles Creed then followed by the rite of baptism for all the infants who died that day around the world....
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