RSiscoe asked the following:
Which of these do you believe?
Evangelium Vitae: “I would now like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion.… You will come to understand that nothing is definitively lost and you will also be able to ask forgiveness from your child, who is now living in the Lord” (99).
The Council of Florence declared: “The souls of those who die in actual mortal sin, or only in Original Sin, immediately descend into Hell” (Denz.693).
Which should I believe: The Council of Florence, which was infallible and is consistent with what the Church has always taught, or John Paul II who teaches that an un-baptized baby is “with the lord”? Which do you believe?
My answer is: I believe both.
Firstly, *Evangelium Vitae *is a papal encyclical addressed to the universal Church. As such, it demands my consent. It is not merely the pope’s opinion, but a teaching that is also guided by the Holy Spirit.
According to Pius XII, *Humani Generis, *20:
Nor must it be thought that what is expounded in Encyclical Letters does not of itself demand consent, since in writing such Letters the Popes do not exercise the supreme power of their Teaching Authority. For these matters are taught with the ordinary teaching authority, of which it is true to say: “He who heareth you, heareth me”;
According to Vatican II’s Apostolic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, 25:
In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent. This religious submission of mind and will (religiosum voluntatis et intellectus obsequium)
must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence.
We can discuss *religiosum obsequium *and what that level of submission connotes. But one thing seems certain to me, religiosum obsequium is incompatible with explicit dissent of mind and will.
Secondly, those who die in mortal sin or merely original sin will certainly not attain eternal life. The Council of Florence affirms this and Pope John Paul II is not disputing or contradicting this teaching.
According to Jer. 1:5: “Before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee.” And of John the Baptist, Luke 1:15 says*: “He shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.*”
It is certain from Catholic dogma that God can and does sanctify infants in the womb, if that be his will. The Church has never taught that God does so in all instances, nor has the Church taught that He never does so. Does this contradict the Council of Florence? No. Then neither can Pope John Paul II be contradicting the Council of Florence in his teaching in Evangelium Vitae.
It seems then, that it is possible for God to sanctify an infant in the womb. When will that be? I dunno. But it is certainly not against any dogma of the Church to teach that infants who are aborted will be “in the Lord.” On the contrary, I am morally bound to give my religiosum obsequium to such teaching, especially since the Vicar of Christ has taught this to the universal Church in an exercise of his authentic magisterium, "***of which it is true to say: “He who heareth you, heareth me”***.