Baptism theology changed?


#1

Came from another RCIA class, not really sure what to make of this.

I was told that before, the Catholic Church taught that unbaptized infants went to Limbo (ie. the Limbo of the Patriarchs). Or rather, our previous understanding of hell, not Hell. But the Church changed it's position, and now says that unbaptized infants go to heaven. And that the belief it Purgatory is optional. Admittedly, I bought a older, used version of the Catechism....but Purgatory is indeed in there.

:confused:

The Church can change these positions? Does that mean it can change its position on the Immaculate Conception & the Assumption too? I understand traditions like the burial of those who committed suicide, or slapping the face at Confirmation being changed, but doctrine makes things questionable for me.

Simple, clear, traditional Catholic answer to avoid confusion please, thanks.


#2

My understanding of what is taught officially is that we do not know where unbaptized babies go, but instead entrust them into God's infinite and perfect Mercy. It was previously taught, though not as an infallible teaching, that babies went to some concept of "limbo" which resided between Hell and Heaven. I believe this was taught because the babies are born with Original Sin, but have not committed any personal sin. So they believed they could not go to Hell or Heaven, so they had to go somewhere in between. But with no real evidence, the belief is that we don't know. Though, I do believe it is still taught that they do not go to Hell because they haven't committed personal sin.

Teachings on purgatory are not optional.


#3

Limbo was a theological speculation. Purgatory is required belief.


#4

[quote="bzkoss236, post:2, topic:305174"]
It was previously taught, though not as an infallible teaching, that babies went to some concept of "limbo" which resided between Hell and Heaven. I believe this was taught because the babies are born with Original Sin, but have not committed any personal sin. So they believed they could not go to Hell or Heaven, so they had to go somewhere in between.

[/quote]

Limbo was in the "upper level" of Hell, not in between.


#5

[quote="devoutchristian, post:4, topic:305174"]
Limbo was in the "upper level" of Hell, not in between.

[/quote]

thanks


#6

When we are faced with a question to which we have not been given a direct answer, of course we speculate. Speculations being speculations, they are going to reflect the flavor of the environment they are created in. We have not been given the answer to the particular question of what happens to unbaptized infants, we are free to hope for their salvation. Limbo is another possibility, and we are free to speculate about that.

Purgatory is not a speculation. We've been told clearly that this is reality. it is a doctinre of the Church...and a tremendous number of Catholic practices don't make any sense at all without a belief in purgatory. Kinda hard to pray for the Holy Souls in purgatory without purgatory. And some RCIA classes are junk. But you already knew that.


#7

Just a note.. God can work without Baptism, He alone is free to save those who have not had the chance to be Baptised. We however are not free to disregard His laws, and therefore, since we were charged to Baptised, it is required of us. Not that this is directlly related, but it does help to clarify if unbaptised babies may go to Heaven.


#8

[quote="minion, post:1, topic:305174"]
Came from another RCIA class, not really sure what to make of this.

I was told that before, the Catholic Church taught that unbaptized infants went to Limbo (ie. the Limbo of the Patriarchs). Or rather, our previous understanding of hell, not Hell. But the Church changed it's position, and now says that unbaptized infants go to heaven. And that the belief it Purgatory is optional. Admittedly, I bought a older, used version of the Catechism....but Purgatory is indeed in there.

:confused:

The Church can change these positions? Does that mean it can change its position on the Immaculate Conception & the Assumption too? I understand traditions like the burial of those who committed suicide, or slapping the face at Confirmation being changed, but doctrine makes things questionable for me.

Simple, clear, traditional Catholic answer to avoid confusion please, thanks.

[/quote]

No more Limbo.
the rest remains.


#9

[quote="minion, post:1, topic:305174"]
Came from another RCIA class, not really sure what to make of this.

I was told that before, the Catholic Church taught that unbaptized infants went to Limbo (ie. the Limbo of the Patriarchs). Or rather, our previous understanding of hell, not Hell. But the Church changed it's position, and now says that unbaptized infants go to heaven. And that the belief it Purgatory is optional. Admittedly, I bought a older, used version of the Catechism....but Purgatory is indeed in there.

:confused:

The Church can change these positions? Does that mean it can change its position on the Immaculate Conception & the Assumption too? I understand traditions like the burial of those who committed suicide, or slapping the face at Confirmation being changed, but doctrine makes things questionable for me.

Simple, clear, traditional Catholic answer to avoid confusion please, thanks.

[/quote]

The Church has never taught Limbo for Infants. That was and is only a theological hypothesis.
The Church teaching on Purgatory is an infallible teaching which means it cannot ever be changed.


#10

[quote="minion, post:1, topic:305174"]

I was told that before, the Catholic Church taught that unbaptized infants went to Limbo (ie. the Limbo of the Patriarchs). Or rather, our previous understanding of hell, not Hell. But the Church changed it's position,

[/quote]

This is not correct. The Church did not teach Limbo for infants doctrinally. It was a theological speculation. I am sure that many people thought it was doctrine, and probably taught others as if it were since it is so common to hear people say that "the nuns" taught them this back in the day.

This document is a very thorough treatment of the subject:

vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070419_un-baptised-infants_en.html

[quote="minion, post:1, topic:305174"]
and now says that unbaptized infants go to heaven.

[/quote]

This does not follow from the clarification regarding Limbo. The Church teaches all it can on the matter, since the fate of unbaptized infants has not been revealed to the Church. The Church does not teach that they are in heaven. The Church teaches we can hope that there is a way known to God by which they are saved.

See the document I linked to, and the Catechism:

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,"63 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.

[quote="minion, post:1, topic:305174"]
And that the belief it Purgatory is optional.

[/quote]

Purgatory is a de fide doctrine of the Catholic Church. It is most certainly not optional nor changeable.

vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P2N.HTM

[quote="minion, post:1, topic:305174"]

The Church can change these positions?

[/quote]

Yes regarding Limbo since it was never actually a teaching of the Church.

No regarding Purgatory because it is a doctrine of the Church.

[quote="minion, post:1, topic:305174"]
Does that mean it can change its position on the Immaculate Conception & the Assumption too?

[/quote]

No. These are dogmas defined by the Church, they cannot change.

[quote="minion, post:1, topic:305174"]

I understand traditions like the burial of those who committed suicide, or slapping the face at Confirmation being changed, but doctrine makes things questionable for me.

Simple, clear, traditional Catholic answer to avoid confusion please, thanks.

[/quote]

If these topics are being improperly explained in RCIA, I encourage you to approach your priest with the facts. This is very serious.


#11

As if it’s not already confusing enough, let me add one more piece of info. The ‘limbo’ of unbaptized infants and the “Limbo of the Patriarchs” are two distinct concepts, and either you or your RCIA class seems to have conflated the two. As other have mentioned, the “limbo of unbaptized infants” was theological speculation, not doctrine.

However, the “limbo of the patriarchs” is something that the Church teaches – it’s the way of describing what happened to the righteous dead prior to Jesus’ resurrection. Those who died, and who would have gone to heaven (if it were possible) are seen as having waited – in the “limbo of the patriarchs” – until Jesus rose. It is to these that we refer when we say that Jesus “descended to the dead” – his resurrection made it possible for them to attain heaven.


#12

I was told that before, the Catholic Church taught that unbaptized infants went to Limbo (ie. the Limbo of the Patriarchs).

As others have noted, the Limbo of Infants was always just theological speculation. The truth is that the Church has no certitude on what happens to unbaptized infants, one way or the other.

One thing to note is that the Limbo of the Infants is distinct from the Limbo of the Patriarchs.

The existence of the Limbo of the Patriarchs is a theological certainty and is doctrinal. That was where the holy saints of the Old Testament (those who died and were saved under the Old Covenant) went to await the Resurrection. That was where Christ descended to upon His death.

The Limbo of the Patriarchs was emptied at the time of the Resurrection and remains empty to this day.


#13

No more Limbo.
the rest remains.

What, the theological speculation that a lot of misinformed nuns taught as dogma for centuries is no longer a speculation?

;-)

It was and remains a possible answer to the question, people's emotional position on it notwithstanding.


#14

Thank you for the answers everyone.

Every time I hear a teaching that nags at me, I'll be sure to ask "Is this theological speculation, or Catholic doctrine?"

Tricky church, TRICKY CHURCH


#15

[quote="minion, post:14, topic:305174"]
Thank you for the answers everyone.

Every time I hear a teaching that nags at me, I'll be sure to ask "Is this theological speculation, or Catholic doctrine?"

Tricky church, TRICKY CHURCH

[/quote]

One thing to make clear:

The Church teaches theology to anyone who wants to learn it. If you wish, you can enroll in classes and get bachelor's, licentiates (= master's), and doctoral degrees in sacred theology. If you do so and start writing about the faith, you'll be a theologian.

But that doesn't mean you speak for the Church.

When the other posters on this thread are saying that the limbo that unbaptised infants may or may not go to is "theological speculation," what they're saying is that some theologians thought that might be the explanation for what happens to them when they die. It was not theological speculation by the Church.

People within the Church are free to speculate about what the answer to various questions might be -- What happens to unbaptized infants when they die? What happens to people's souls when they are cryopreserved? If two people did a mutual brain transplant, where would their souls be? -- and to publish what they think the answers are. Occasionally such an answer gives great comfort to laymen who are asking the same question. But theological speculation -- which is a perfectly valid exercise, as far as it goes -- is not the same thing as theology taught by the Church.

So the Church hasn't changed its position on limbo as it relates to unbaptized infants. It has, however, spoken on the subject and said that we have no basis for speculating that it might be true.

Hope this helps.


#16

[quote="Godfollower, post:15, topic:305174"]
If you wish, you can enroll in classes and get bachelor's, licentiates (= master's), and doctoral degrees in sacred theology.

[/quote]

Actually, the bachelor in sacred theology degree (STB) is a graduate-level degree, not to be confused with an undergraduate degree (BA or BS). The licentiate (STL) is a second graduate degree which, among other things, makes one eligible to teach at a seminary. Neither of them is a masters degree (MA), though. The STx and MA are different kinds of degrees, with different types of requirements and different goals.


#17

[quote="Burdensome1, post:13, topic:305174"]
What, the theological speculation that a lot of misinformed nuns taught as dogma for centuries is no longer a speculation?

;-)

It was and remains a possible answer to the question, people's emotional position on it notwithstanding.

[/quote]

There the story goes that the guys on Limbo did want to leave it ....


#18

[quote="minion, post:1, topic:305174"]
Came from another RCIA class, not really sure what to make of this.

I was told that before, the Catholic Church taught that unbaptized infants went to Limbo (ie. the Limbo of the Patriarchs). Or rather, our previous understanding of hell, not Hell. But the Church changed it's position, and now says that unbaptized infants go to heaven. And that the belief it Purgatory is optional. Admittedly, I bought a older, used version of the Catechism....but Purgatory is indeed in there.

:confused:

The Church can change these positions? Does that mean it can change its position on the Immaculate Conception & the Assumption too? I understand traditions like the burial of those who committed suicide, or slapping the face at Confirmation being changed, but doctrine makes things questionable for me.

Simple, clear, traditional Catholic answer to avoid confusion please, thanks.

[/quote]

As always, it is only a hope.

Read it here from the Vatican: vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070419_un-baptised-infants_en.html

"...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. However, none of the considerations proposed in this text to motivate a new approach to the question may be used to negate the necessity of baptism, nor to delay the conferral of the sacrament. Rather, there are reasons to hope that God will save these infants precisely because it was not possible to do for them that what would have been most desirable— to baptize them in the faith of the Church and incorporate them visibly into the Body of Christ.[size=3]"
[/size]
Previously we read in Baltimore Catechism No. 3

Q. 401. Whither did Christ's soul go after His death?
A. After Christ's death His soul descended into hell.
Q. 402. Did Christ's soul descend into the hell of the damned?
A. The hell into which Christ's soul descended was not the hell of the dammed, but a place or state of rest called Limbo, where the souls of the just were waiting for Him.
Q. 403. Why did Christ descend into Limbo?
A. Christ descended into Limbo to preach to the souls who were in prison -- that is, to announce to them the joyful tidings of their redemption.
Q. 416. Who were present at the ascension and who ascended with Christ?
A. From various parts of Scripture we may conclude there were about 125 persons -- though traditions tell us there was a greater number -- present at the Ascension. They were the Apostles, the Disciples, the pious women and others who had followed Our Blessed Lord. The souls of the just who were waiting in Limbo for the redemption ascended with Christ.
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.

The Baltimore Catechism is an approved teaching of the Magisterium, so it is not wrong to quote it. There is a distinction that is often missed: there is more than the two states of Heaven and Hell (Gehenna), there are also other states (example Purgatory). There is more than salvation to our futures, there is also greater glory for those that have great good works, and lesser glory for those that have lesser good works. From the Vatican, under Greek Fathers we read some of the logic that has been used:"Pseudo-Athanasios says clearly that an unbaptised person cannot enter the Kingdom of God. He also asserts that unbaptised children will not enter the Kingdom, but neither will they be lost, for they have not sinned."
vatican.va/roman_curia/co...nfants_en.html


#19

I wish we could just settle this whole limbo thing.

Limbo is not and was never dogmatic/doctrinal teaching. It was taught with varying frequency in the past, perhaps with not enough nuance as to precisely what kind of assent is required (none). It was and is a theological speculation. We do not know where the souls of unbaptized infants go. We can hope that God will provide a means of salvation, but we cannot be certain of it. There are three distinct possibilities: Heaven, Hell, Limbo (which is conceptualized as being an "upper level" of Hell).

My personal view is that Limbo was first thought of as partially a result of our sensibilities being violated by thinking of an unbaptized baby's soul being in Hell. I do not feel certain that I can know the reality.


#20

[quote="YoungTradCath, post:19, topic:305174"]
I wish we could just settle this whole limbo thing.

Limbo is not and was never dogmatic/doctrinal teaching. It was taught with varying frequency in the past, perhaps with not enough nuance as to precisely what kind of assent is required (none). It was and is a theological speculation. We do not know where the souls of unbaptized infants go. We can hope that God will provide a means of salvation, but we cannot be certain of it. There are three distinct possibilities: Heaven, Hell, Limbo (which is conceptualized as being an "upper level" of Hell).

My personal view is that Limbo was first thought of as partially a result of our sensibilities being violated by thinking of an unbaptized baby's soul being in Hell. I do not feel certain that I can know the reality.

[/quote]

Since it is not dogma, but ordinary teaching, it will not be settled, because individuals can believe it or not. We know for sure that:

CCC 1022 Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven-through a purification 594 or immediately, 595 -- or immediate and everlasting damnation. 596 At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love. 597

CCC 1261 "As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God..."


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