Abortion and dying in original sin

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
1261 “As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus’ tenderness toward children which caused him to say: “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,” allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church’s call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.
Perhaps the best way to answer the question is what the International Theological Commission had to say in its address The hope of salvation for infants who die without being baptized:
The conclusion of this study is that there are theological and liturgical reasons to hope that infants who die without baptism may be saved and brought into eternal happiness, even if there is not an explicit teaching on this question found in Revelation”.
quoted from the apologist section

It should be noted that this is current teaching and has not always been the case.

  1. Take* “But the souls of those who depart this life in actual mortal sin, or in original sin alone, go down straightaway to hell to be punished, but with unequal pains”* is a definition from .ECUMENICAL COUNCIL OF FLORENCE (1438-1445). ewtn.com/library/councils/florence.htm

This states 3 things to those who die in original sin alone. a. They are punished,b they go straight to hell c. the punishment is less for those than those who have committed mortal sin. This is not a description of limbo but hell. This is the fate of infants and the aborted.

A second historical teaching of the church is that abortion is wrong because the aborted foetus loses not only its life but it soul “Who will not detest such an abhorrent and evil act, by which are lost not only the bodies but also the souls”? quoted from The Apostolic Constitution “Effraenatam” of Pope Sixtus V against abortionists. This teaching assumes the existence of limbo. (Popes believe in the limbo of the little ones") iteadjmj.com/aborto/eng-prn.html

St Peter and by extension Popes are permitted to change teachings**".I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."
**Mattew 16:19

Well the, I’m glad we never accepted the “Ecumenical” Council of Florence :thumbsup:

There are numerous ‘articles’ such as these which appear to contradict other Church teachings, when in reality they do not. Such complex issues are best left to God, and to theologians that have devoted their lives to serving God’s Church. If something appears contradictory on the surface, we are assured by faith and reason that the contradiction lies with our limited perception of the Truth; keeping in mind that pride begets spiritual (and even intellectual) blindness.

With regards to infant baptism, here are the words of Fr. William Most, a great Catholic theologian and scholar:

“The words of the Council of Lyons speaks of those who die in original sin as going to hell. The Latin word used is ‘nfernum’, which means the realm of the dead, and need not mean the hell of the damned. As to the word ‘poena’, often translated as punishment, in Latin it need not mean the positive infliction of suffering, but could stand for only the loss or deprivation of some good. If unbaptized infants are deprived of the vision of God, that is a ‘poena’, but would not have to involve any suffering. We are certain of this from the teaching of Pope Pius IX, in ‘Quanto conficiamur moerore’, August 10, 1863: “God… in His supreme goodness and clemency, by no means allows anyone to be punished with eternal punishments who does not have the guilt of voluntary fault.” Of course, the infants do not have any voluntary fault. Hence they cannot be in the hell of the damned.”

How many people can say that they knew this? Not many. How many are asked to? Not many. Understanding the ‘apparent’ contradictions in Church teaching- without a sound theological knowledge, and without being guided by faith- is an exercise in futility, especially considering the fact that the entirety of Church teaching (dogmas, decrees, doctrines, disciplines, pronouncements etc.) could not reasonably be digested by most (if not all) people. Fortunately, God does not ask us to understand every Church teaching; He does not command the impossible. It is all too easy to take a Church teaching, or even a number of teachings out of context. For those who are inclined to do so: don’t. You will only end up confused and lacking charity, which is what should be our main concern: “Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Mt. 6:33).

what is your point, exactly? are you accusing the catholic church of teaching that innocent babies go to hell? are you trying to show that the catholic church lacks the perspective to hand down any teaching on the state of the souls of unbaptized babies? are you trying to communicate something else?

you make two points, but not an argument. thus, any number of conclusions may logically be drawn from your post, but you yourself are not making one. please state your purpose more clearly so that discussion will be more relevant, specific, and productive.

I have the feeling Chaela_may was responding to the OP, and not our last poster.

BTW, Littlestsouls, that was an excellent post! :slight_smile:

yes, i was. i’m sorry. i should have clarified that. blush

The problem with the good father’s speculation is that it leaves out what the Council of Florence said about those who die in a state of mortal sin. If infernum means Hades and not hell then not only do those in a state of original sin go to Hades but also those in a state of mortal sin. Infernum is a common object so must have the same meaning for both subjects i.e 1. those who die in a state of mortal sin and 2 those who die in original sin alone.

So in short if one argues that those who dies with original sin alone do not go to the hell of the damned one will also have to make that claim for those who die in a state of mortal sin which of course would be heresy.

to be exact unbaptised babies. Whether the council fathers saw them as innocent I have no idea. For as St Augustine says, “If little children are baptized, then, it is because they are sinners”. and “Why did Christ die for them if they are not guilty?” and “**God is just. If he condemns unbaptised children to hell, it is because they are sinners” **vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070419_un-baptised-infants_en.html

So, there is a tradition that unbaptised children were not innocent and deserved hell albeit not to the degree of those who committed mortal sins

i still don’t see a centralized argument. for example, your argument might be that the catholic church is wrong and can’t help us toward salvation because she teaches that little babies go to eternal punishment and that this is logically absurd. you could then back up your argument with the points that you make: ccc 1261, uncited quote from unknown source, quote from ecumenical council of florence, your own extrapolation of the above scattered references, a quote from pope sixtus v taken out of context (it sounds like you don’t understand our belief of purgatory), and matthew 16:19.

then again, you might not be making a real argument at all. are you just pointing out what you see as flaws in the church?

you make a more serious accusation when you say that popes have the power to change Christ’s teachings. does this pertain to the argument that you’re making, if you’re making one at all?

Which is probably why I never made such an argument. I try to avoid making absurd statements.

I never mentioned purgatory nor gave a definiton of it so I don’t know how you came to that conclusion:shrug: It would be helpful to say why you think I have quoted out of context and explain your reference to purgatory.

The clue is in my first sentence. “It should be noted that this is current teaching and has not always been the case” and is in response to The conclusion of this study is that there are theological and liturgical reasons to hope that infants who die without baptism may be saved and brought into eternal happiness",. which was written by one of the apologists on this forum. The quotes from an infallible ecumenical council and Sextus V obviously contradict current teaching. It is a very straight forward argument.

There is no direct scriptural teaching on what happens to unbaptised babies at death, so yes the Popes are the one’s who declare what Christ teaches on this matter. Some have said that they go to hell, others to limbo and others again to heaven. They can’t all be right This is also a matter of history and fact. The quote from Matthew, albeit provocative, suggests that God will support whatever position the Peter and the popes will take.

If my history or facts or interpretation are wrong, please say where and more importantly why. There is no need to look for look for arguments I have not made. I am happy to be corrected so long as that correction can be demonstrated with proof i.e church documents, scripture etc. This is much more helpful than being told that I don’t understand without following up with why you think that.

Jeremiah 1:5 - “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you…”

Matthew 18:14 - “So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”

Nimeniton, could you give me one good reason that qualifies you to teach Catholic doctrine after reading your history?

First of all I should put my cards on the table and state that I am neither Protestant nor Catholic and would describe myself as an atheist. In my early days I liked to debate with fundamentalist Christians but in recent years as my health has declined I have found my self re-visiting Catholicism; the religion I was born in and where I spent four and a half of my teenage years in a junior seminary. I will not say why I left the church, this is not my purpose here other than to show were my biases lie.

For example I assume that the Bible is not the word of God either literally or metaphorically and I assume that the teaching of the church (bearing in mind that not all teaching is dogma) has bent, even changed over the centuries and this is what I would expect of a human organisation as it adapts to the needs of different times. Those are my a priori assumptions which I know a Catholic would challenge.

Please remember that charity is essential to our discussions here. Thank you for your cooperation.

Not that I want this thread to veer in this direction, but are there different ‘degree’s’ of hell?

I choose to believe in God’s ultimate wisdom and mercy, when a small child meets an unfortunate and untimely dealth before being baptized by the Church, divine intervention from God, through Jesus, brings these little souls to heaven and does not condem them to an eternity in hell.

Life is much different today than it was when baptism first started, isn’t it? 2 working parents running around doing errands, etc… Was it easier or harder to coordinate a baptism 2000 years ago than it is today (practically speaking, from the time the child leaves the womb). Were there various ‘steps’ and planning and waiting lists and so forth that needed to take place 2000 years ago when a new baby was born into a villiage the way there is today to get a baby baptized in Church?

Just curious.

you misunderstand me, nimeniton. i’m asking for a point of reference. since i am not a theologian or a properly trained apologist, i’m asking you to put things in layman’s terms. again, i see some scattered points, but no thesis, no central argument.

let me reword the first time that you quoted me, because i wasn’t saying that you were making absurd statements: because the catholic church teaches the absurd notion that little babies can go to hell, the church can’t be the way to salvation.

that was my example of an actual argument that you might be making. i don’t know if that is the argument that you’re making. it was just an example of a statement that could be expounded on with the points that you made.

my understanding of purgatory includes something called the hell of the just. in the apostle’s creed, you’ll note that Jesus went to hell after He was crucified. catholic understanding of this is that Jesus was saving those souls in hell who, under the new covenant that He had just implemented, didn’t belong there. bear in mind that we had already been taught, in the the parable of lazarus and the rich man, that those who go to hell can’t come out. clearly, the hell that Jesus visited was a different kind of hell, one foreshadowed in maccabees and referred to by Jesus when he said that you wouldn’t get out of prison (in reference to the afterlife) until you paid your debt in full (matthew 5:26). clearly, he wasn’t talking about heaven, where go those souls who are in perfect communion with God, nor was he talking about the bad hell, where there is no escaping eternal torment. he was referring to another place of fire, a place where souls are purified so that they can go to heaven. the reason that there might be souls there who never actually sinned, i imagine, is because purgatory is where you go to perfect your relationship with God. you can’t be in heaven, obviously, if you have no relationship with God at all, but neither can you go to hell if you never sinned. purgatory is an uncomfortable place, but then, so is earth. the purposes of souls in both places is similar. i saw a painting once, in a little catholic church in the czech republic, that puts into an image what i’m struggling to put into words.

that’s why you were taking what pope sixtus the v said out of context. he wasn’t saying that abortionists were sending the souls of the unborn to eternal torment. he was saying that they were being denied a chance to find God here on earth, leaving them only to find Him in purgatory. you can read up on what the catholic church teaches about purgatory in the ccc 1030-1032

the popes do not have the power to change Christ’s teachings. Jesus was a jew speaking to jews; he was clarifying the law, altering those things that needed to be changed and leaving the rest alone because salvation comes from the jews. that’s why there’s so much that He didn’t address. He was building on a foundation that had already been laid by God the Father. He didn’t need to build it again. when non-jews were included in the new covenant, they needed clarification. we also need clarification as time goes on and we lose understanding of the culture in which Jesus lived. Jesus did not specifically refer to the souls of those who die very young, unbaptized, and neither did the previous covenant, but we weren’t given to know everything. we were given the information that we do need: God is loving, there is a place where souls can go if they’re not ready for heaven so that they don’t go to eternal damnation, and that we can depend on the church that He founded for information when we’re confused. while we don’t have a clear answer, we are given enough information to let the matter rest, knowing that all is well.

popes extrapolate the truth from existing teaching: scripture and tradition. they do not innovate.

if some popes said that they go to hell, others to limbo, and others go heaven, then they can all be right. purgatory can be called the hell of the just and it can also be called limbo. everyone there goes to heaven once they have a perfect relationship with God. very simple, really.


I don’t claim to teach Catholic doctrine but I do comment on it as an outsider. I have become very interested in the variety of ways that the limbo question is addressed by Catholics.

Ok I certainly agree with your definition of purgatory as a place where those are purged of their sins and assured of heaven. However, I disagree that Sixtus V in Effaenatam is referring to purgatory. iteadjmj.com/aborto/eng-prn.html. He ceratinly does not say that the aborted child is purged of its sin and goes to heaven. He says that the crime is terrible because not only does the child lose its life but also its soul. Now we all know what losing the soul means.

And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? Matthew 16:26

So Sixtus is saying that the unborn child’s soul is lost and not that it is purged. Further he makes it clear that the aborted child is denied the company of angels, the divine vision, a place in the heavenly mansions etc all of which are descriptive of heaven. We know that those who go to purgatory are not denied these things because they are assured of heaven.

So, I don’t believe I have misunderstood or taken his statement out of context. In no way is he saying aborted children go to purgatory and are assured of heaven.

Hi, sorry to bother you but do you happen to know if Sixtus, together with the College of Bishops, was making a declaration of Church Teaching or was he simply expressing his personal, theological opinion? (sorry, don’t have time to read the link right now!)

God Bless,

Hello, Clem. . .

If you do open the link some time soon, the part that stood out to me was this wording:

Here is the English translation of “Effraenatam”, somewhat abbreviated and with some parenthetical commentary.

We do not have the complete encyclical and we don’t know if the translation is accurate, given the forewarning that it is “abbreviated,” nor do we know which part is commentary. It not a dogmatic statement that falls under Divine Revelation with certain guidance regarding faith or morals. No pope can bind his successors with regard to development of doctrine, and we understand that the Church now refers to these older theories as theological speculation, without any promulgation to date of a defined dogma.

It seems rather obvious to me that we are bound to listen to the current teachings of Vatican II and lay aside older speculative theology, as the Holy Spirit makes known deeper aspects of Truth. These are not all laid out in the first century :wink: but must grow in the Church’s understanding until such time as God reveals it definitively and there is a solemn dogma attached to it.

We are not bound to believe in Limbo or any of its theologies.

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