Can Unbaptized Infants be Saved?


#1

Trent says no

The Catechism of the Council of Trent says: “The faithful are earnestly to be exhorted to take care that their children be brought to the church, as soon as it can be done with safety, to receive solemn Baptism. Since infant children have no other means of salvation except Baptism, we may easily understand how grievously those persons sin who permit them to remain without the grace of the Sacrament longer than necessity may require, particularly at an age so tender as to be exposed to numberless dangers of death.”

The CCC says yes

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.”

What do you say?


#2

I say yes. God can save anyone in ways which are unknown to us.

matthew


#3

Considering that the Catechism of the Catholic Church is more recent, I would have to say that there may be a way. I have given this issue a lot of thought. Some things to consider are that the Catechism says in paragraph 1257, “Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament.” By this logic, infants do not need baptism for salvation. Therefore, unbaptized babies cannot go to hell. This begs the question, “Do they go to heaven?” In my opinion, they should. I can even go so far as to say that they do. Without any actual sin, or sin that is actually committed by the person, one cannot be condemned. There are some that say that these babies go to some form of limbo. I have spoken with many priests about this and none of them believe that limbo exists. Limbo isn’t even a Catholic teaching anymore (it used to be believed that limbo existed, but that question was cleared up some time ago). Others can claim that the babies go to purgatory for cleansing from original sin. I am able to accept this possibility, especially over the scenarios involving limbo and hell. That’s my input. Any questions?


#4

[quote=FdeS2]Considering that the Catechism of the Catholic Church is more recent, I would have to say that there may be a way.
[/quote]

The Catechism is more recent, however not infallible. This is how someone worded it to me, “we must read the fallible/newer in light of the older/infallible statement, since the teaching of the Church is that no infallible doctrine can be contradicted or changed and because every new teaching has to be understood in light of the old, not the other way around. The Church builds upon what is already defined.”

So the issue is, we know that Trent is right because it was infallible. The Catechism on the other hand must either just be wrong on this topic, or we misunderstand it, and need to learn how it doesn’t contradict Trent.

I always believed in accordance with the Catechism, however I was unaware of this statement from Trent.

The paragraph you mentioned 1257 falls under the fallible category again. This doesn’t make it wrong, but many will claim that it is a blatant disregaurd for original sin, and a denial of the Gospel’s teaching on this.


#5

The Church doesn’t change her position. She tells us that it is permissible “to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without baptism”. However, we cannot know that this is the case. Only God knows. For this reason, it is very important to “not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.”


#6

I believe all babies who die without baptism go to heaven, for Jesus once said, referring to little children, “Such as these belong the kingdom of heaven.”


#7

[quote=Sarah Jane]The Church doesn’t change her position. She tells us that it is permissible “to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without baptism”. However, we cannot know that this is the case. Only God knows. For this reason, it is very important to “not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.”
[/quote]

You are right, the Church does not change her position. In 1547 Trent said we do not have hope. This was an infallible council. What I am looking for, is an explanation of how the Catechism is not in contradiction to Trent.


#8

Michael,

I think you’re confusing the “normative” path of salvation and the “extraordinary” path. The normative means is clearly taught by Trent, and is exactly right as far as that goes. The extraordinary means, however, is not being spoken of - indeed, we are not certain what the extraordinary means are. Rather, we are left to hope (CCC) in the infinite mercy and divine justness of God for those who die outside of communion with the ordinary means. Additionally, this “extraordinary path of salvation” may very well not be the “fullness” of salvation, further supporting Trent, with these unbaptized children not possessing the Beautific Vision while retaining eternal repose (Limbo).

A parallel: “Unless you eat of the flesh of the Son of Man, you have no life in you.” Does this mean that a catechuman, who has not partaken of the Eucharist, has no life in them and if they die before confirmation they will be eternally dead? The Church holds an opposing view, largely based in the extraordinary path to salvation. It’s a fine line, I’ll admit, but I think it exists.

Do you agree?

RyanL

P.S.
Thanks for the CDs. I’m working on my 5th set now, and they’re great! Also, I think I may have messed up the CDs I burned for you - no matter, the tracks were included on the ones you gave me! Who knew?


#9

My senior report in my college theology class was on this. PM me if anyone wants to read it.

There is not salvation outside the grace of the church, and baptism is the necessary, oordinary means in which we enter into the grace of the church. That is the infallible teaching of Trent.

The validity of a sacrament depends on 2 things: Form and intent. The intent of baptism is to die to self, sharing in the curcifixion of our Lord, that we may rise again in him, and enter into his grace. The oordinary form is the trinitarian form with water.

The church has also infallibly taught that there exist extraoordinary forms in which this sacrament may be ministered, such as Baptism of Desire, and Baptism of Blood. Finally, the church has also declared that the Holy Innocents also have been admitted to heaven, through facing death for the Christ child.

It is my personal belief that God would not have sent his son to die on the cross FOR ALL, not just for those that would have a chance to believe in him. With God displaying his infinte love and mercy with all these other means of extraoordinarily ministering baptism to those in need, I have no doubt in my mind there exists some other way in which the grace of the sacrament can be administered to those infants who die without.

Josh


#10

[quote=RyanL]Michael,

I think you’re confusing the “normative” path of salvation and the “extraordinary” path. The normative means is clearly taught by Trent, and is exactly right as far as that goes. The extraordinary means, however, is not being spoken of - indeed, we are not certain what the extraordinary means are. Rather, we are left to hope (CCC) in the infinite mercy and divine justness of God for those who die outside of communion with the ordinary means. Additionally, this “extraordinary path of salvation” may very well not be the “fullness” of salvation, further supporting Trent, with these unbaptized children not possessing the Beautific Vision while retaining eternal repose (Limbo).

A parallel: “Unless you eat of the flesh of the Son of Man, you have no life in you.” Does this mean that a catechuman, who has not partaken of the Eucharist, has no life in them and if they die before confirmation they will be eternally dead? The Church holds an opposing view, largely based in the extraordinary path to salvation. It’s a fine line, I’ll admit, but I think it exists.

Do you agree?

RyanL
[/quote]

Yes, this aligns with my beliefs. I was discussing with another Catholic who believes that the “normative” path is the only path. Are you aware of any Church documents that discuss the “extraordinary” path, and the nature of it?

Thanks for the comments Ryan!

Michael


#11

Extra ecclesiam nulla salus! That is what you want to search for - “Outside the Church there is no salvation”. The clarifying documentation helps to explain the “ordinary” vs. the “extraordinary” means. It gets a bit tough to discern through the language used, but the constant teaching of the Church is there.
From: ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/EXTRECCL.HTM

Pope Boniface VIII, in his bull of 1302 entitled , asserted in the strongest possible terms that “it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”

Pope Eugene IV issued the Bull in 1441, which states the following: (N)o one remaining outside the Catholic Church, not just pagans, but also Jews or heretics or schismatics, can become partakers of eternal life; but they will go to the “everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41), unless before the end of life they are joined to the Church… And no one can be saved, no matter how much alms he has given, even if he sheds his blood for the name of Christ, unless he remains in the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church (Denziger 715).

This dogma must be understood in that sense in which the Church herself understands it. For, it was not to private judgments that Our Saviour gave for explanation those things that are contained in the deposit of faith, but to the teaching authority of the Church (, in , 1952, vol. 127, pp. 308-15).

In other words, the magisterial texts…can only be interpreted in context and in the light of other, equally authoritative Magisterial teachings not only in order to avoid confusion or charges that the Church has changed her teaching, but because it is only in harmony with the Magisterium of today that magisterial texts of yesterday may be rightly understood.

The protocol mentions, for example, Pope Pius IX’s 1863 encyclical . In this document, while cautioning against the error of religious indifferentism, the pontiff simultaneously affirmed the inexhaustible mercy of God, who really does desire that all men be saved and come to full knowledge of the truth (cf. 1 Tim. 2:4).

Pope Pius XII, in his 1943 encyclical , to which the 1949 protocol also makes reference. The protocol summarizes the pope’s teaching by saying that while membership in the Church is indeed an absolute requirement for salvation, such membership does not necessarily have to be visible to the human eye, and can be characterized by even “desire and longing,” whether explicit (in the case of catechumens) or implicit (in the case of the invincibly ignorant). At the same time, however, the pope affirms that those souls in the latter case “cannot be sure of their salvation” since “they still remain deprived of those many heavenly gifts and helps which can only be enjoyed in the Catholic Church.”

Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience—those too may achieve eternal salvation (, #16).

Pope John Paul II’s 1990 encyclical repeats this same doctrine:

But it is clear that today, as in the past, many people do not have an opportunity to come to know or accept the Gospel revelation or to enter the Church… For such people, salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace which, while having a mysterious relationship to the Church, does not make them formally a part of the Church but enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation. This grace comes from Christ; it is the result of his sacrifice and is communicated by the Holy Spirit. It enables each person to attain salvation through his or her free cooperation.

God bless,
RyanL


#12

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.