Catholic Church Buries Limbo After Centuries


I don’t know if this is the correct forum to post this. I apologize if it is.

Catholic Church buries limbo after centuries By Philip Pullella
Fri Apr 20, 2:21 PM ET

The Roman Catholic Church has effectively buried the concept of limbo, the place where centuries of tradition and teaching held that babies who die without baptism went.

In a long-awaited document, the Church’s International Theological Commission said limbo reflected an “unduly restrictive view of salvation.”

The 41-page document was published on Friday by Origins, the documentary service of the U.S.-based Catholic News Service, which is part of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Pope Benedict, himself a top theologian who before his election in 2005 expressed doubts about limbo, authorized the publication of the document, called “The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptised.”

The verdict that limbo could now rest in peace had been expected for years. The document was seen as most likely the final word since limbo was never part of Church doctrine, even though it was taught to Catholics well into the 20th century.

“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,” it said.

“There are reasons to hope that God will save these infants precisely because it was not possible (to baptize them).”

The Church teaches that baptism removes original sin which stains all souls since the fall from grace in the Garden of Eden.


The document stressed that its conclusions should not be interpreted as questioning original sin or “used to negate the necessity of baptism or delay the conferral of the sacrament.”

Limbo, which comes from the Latin word meaning “border” or “edge,” was considered by medieval theologians to be a state or place reserved for the unbaptized dead, including good people who lived before the coming of Christ.

“People find it increasingly difficult to accept that God is just and merciful if he excludes infants, who have no personal sins, from eternal happiness, whether they are Christian or non-Christian,” the document said.

It said the study was made all the more pressing because “the number of nonbaptised infants has grown considerably, and therefore the reflection on the possibility of salvation for these infants has become urgent.”

The commission’s conclusions had been widely expected.

In writings before his election as Pope in 2005, the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger made it clear he believed the concept of limbo should be abandoned because it was “only a theological hypothesis” and “never a defined truth of faith.”

In the Divine Comedy, Dante placed virtuous pagans and great classical philosophers, including Plato and Socrates, in limbo. The Catholic Church’s official catechism, issued in 1992 after decades of work, dropped the mention of limbo.


This is good. I never liked the concept of a 4th place in the aferlife.


What other doctrines of the church will change in coming years? I really think re-marriage and denial of communion needs to be re-evaluated. It is too restrictive also IMO.

Is there a chance that the contraception doctirne could be modified in years to come. There are those rumors.


From what I’ve heard, none of this is binding- Deo Gratias. People are still free to believe in Limbo.


Limbo *was not * doctrine. It had been postulated as possible by theologians and was generally accepted.

The permanance of sacramental Marriage and the intrinsic evil of contraception are doctrine. Acceptance of them is a required part of the deal.


Where did the concept of “Limbo” originate from in the first place?


As my oldest son used to say when he was a very young boy, it was postulated by “old dead guys”.


Is the document that buried Limbo a infallible document?


This is from the Yahoo story:;_ylt=Ahfaw6xbFHyl17ba.bKHiZI7Xs8F

“While the report does not carry the authority of a papal encyclical or even the weight of a formal document from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, it was approved by the pope on Jan. 19 and was published on the Internet — an indication that it was intended to be widely read by the faithful.”


I’m always a little sceptical about secular news agencies writing articles about Church teaching. Zenit’s report sounds different than the one on Yahoo:

**Panel Backs Hopes for Unbaptized Infants Who Die

Pope OKs Publication of Report on Limbo **

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 20, 2007 ( Benedict XVI authorized the publication of a report that expresses the hope that babies who die without baptism are able to get to heaven.

The report by the International Theological Commission, published today, concluded that there are serious theological and liturgical grounds for the hope that such babies are saved and enjoy the beatific vision.

The commission says the theological hypothesis of “limbo” appeared to be based on an unduly restrictive view of salvation.

The 41-page document noted this is an “urgent pastoral problem,” especially because of the large number of unbaptized babies who die as victims of abortion.

The commission’s documents are not considered official expressions of the magisterium. But the commission does help the Holy See to examine important doctrinal issues.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church in No. 1261 explains: "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.”



Doctrine means teaching. It was the teaching of Catholic schools and bishops. I don’t know if it was ever the teaching of popes … anyone know?


Main Entry: doc·trine
Pronunciation: 'däk-tr&n
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French, from Latin doctrina, from doctor
2 a : something that is taught b : a principle or position or the body of principles in a branch of knowledge or system of belief : DOGMA c : a principle of law established through past decisions d : a statement of fundamental government policy especially in international relations e : a military principle or set of strategies

(merriam Webster)

I’m talking about definition 2B. Part of the body of principles that make up our Catholic faith. Limbo is not one of those things and never has been. Marriage and contraception are and always have been.

Limbo is a belief that many Catholics have held over the centuries, probably including popes. Belief in Limbo has never been a requirement for communion with the Church. Only things that are certain to be true are required beliefs. Others, even longstanding things like Limbo, and popular things like our Lady’s appearance at Fatima are approved, but not dogmatic.


Since we’re on the subject of infallible…what other precepts of the church may be up for question? BTW, I was taught about Limbo.



Limbo has only ever been dancing under a bamboo pole.

Feel free to believe in it still, though. BTW, Elvis is working at a truck stop in Grand Rapids too.



Speaking of abortion, Pope Sixtus V wrote:
For who would not detest a crime as execrable as this — a crime whose consequence is that not just bodies, but — still worse! — even souls, are, as it were, cast away? The soul of the unborn infant bears the imprint of God’s image! It is a soul for whose redemption Christ our Lord shed His precious blood, a soul capable of eternal blessedness and destined for the company of angels! Who, therefore, would not condemn and punish with the utmost severity the desecration committed by one who has excluded such a soul from the blessed vision of God? Such a one has done all he or she could possibly have done to prevent this soul from reaching the place prepared for it in heaven, and has deprived God of the service of this His own creature.
Pope Sixtus V, Effrænatam, 29 October 1588

On the necessity of baptism for salvation, Pope Eugenius IV wrote:
With regard to children, since the danger of death is often present and the only remedy available to them is the sacrament of baptism by which they are snatched away from the dominion of the devil and adopted as children of God, [the holy Roman church] admonishes that sacred baptism is not to be deferred for forty or eighty days or any other period of time in accordance with the usage of some people, but it should be conferred as soon as it conveniently can; and if there is imminent danger of death, the child should be baptized straightaway without any delay, even by a lay man or a woman in the form of the church, if there is no priest, as is contained more fully in the decree on the Armenians.
Pope Eugenius IV, Bull of union with the Copts, 4 February 1442

The souls … of those who die in mortal sin or with only original sin descend immediately into hell; however, to be punished with different penalties and in different places.
Pope John XXII, “Nequaquam sine delore” (Letter to the Armenians) 1321
[Denzinger, Sources of Catholic Dogma, 493a]

The punishment of original sin is deprivation of the vision of God, but the punishment of actual sin is the torments of everlasting hell.
Innocent III, Letter to the Archbishop of Arles,” 1201
[Denzinger 410]

I don’t think any of these statements are meant to define a dogma, however.


Read Humanae Vitae.


Limbo , was the place where all persons who were saved before Christ’s Incarnation went. It was/is also known as Abraham’s boosom ( sp?). It was a temporary place in which these souls stayed until Christ died and then brought them into heaven. Hence, the Apostles Creed, ’ and then He descended to the dead"- in latin the word used is infernus which means lower levels, not neccesarily hell. What i was taught by a priest, is that after Christ took these souls to heaven limbo was “closed” if you will. But as someone said before, Limbo was never a doctrin, and the Catechism does not teach that unbaptized children go to limbo.


I personally believe in Limbo, because Holy Mother Church, in years past, has clearly stated that Baptism is necessary for Salvation. There could be exceptions (such as Baptism of Desire or Baptism of Blood), but as a general rule, those who die without Baptism do not enter Heaven. I like how the Baltimore Catechism handles the question.


Limbo was a concept through which we tried to understand God’s judgment, not necessarily an actual place.

Today we have instead better understood the concept of God’s mercy. Notice that nothing at all in the document states that “God will”, or “God does”, but merely expresses a hope.

Given the fact that some 40 million unborn innocents have been killed through abortion in the U.S. alone, we have an even greater need to ponder God’s mercy and justice. For truly, if indeed these children were condemned to hell, virtually every one of us here over the age of 18 or so is almost guaranteed to be condemned to hell as well, because we stood by. We cooperated. Many actively assisted at one time or another; many silently assented simply by not speaking up. We are all guilty of this ‘silence’.

Those 40 million, if in hell, are our judges and in their own silent ‘standing by’ in witness will condemn us. We ask for God to have mercy on us–but some apparently think that we can’t ask God to have mercy on them???

God forgive us.


Despite news reports, the Catholic Church has not buried the concept of limbo, nor can she do so.

Even though it is not a dogma, limbo is a valid theological conclusion solidly based on the dogma that those who die in original sin only are in some manner penalized for this state of sin in the next world. The penalty is deprivation of the beatific vision. This dogma was taught by two general councils: Lyons II in 1274 and Florence in 1439. (The old Denzinger numbers are 464 and 693; the new Denzinger numbers are 858 and 1306. See also old Denzinger number 410 and new Denzinger number 780.)

What has just happened is merely this: a group of theologians has dissented from the above dogma. In doing so, they have made a mistake. If the citations in media reports are accurate, the members of the International Theological Commission (ITC) are not even sure about their disagreement with Catholic doctrine, for they have contended that unbaptized infants may (not will) achieve the beatific vision.

What the ITC has done is very much in the same category as what Pope Paul VI’s birth control commission did when its majority report disregarded irreversible Catholic moral teaching on the sinfulness of artificial contraception. Even though Paul VI had continued his predecessor’s approval of the establishment of this commission, its contradiction of Catholic teaching had absolutely no weight for a serious Catholic, and Paul VI himself, by issuing the encyclical Humanae vitae in 1968, eventually put an end to the scandal caused by the commission’s defection from the truth of Catholic doctrine.

“But the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has permitted publication of the ITC statement on limbo!” Granted, but the fact of papal infallibility does *not *cover such actions, as every well-instructed Catholic should know. In this case, too, there is a parallel from Church history: in the fourteenth century, Pope John XXII erroneously taught, but in a non-ex cathedra manner, that the souls of the blessed do not achieve the beatific vision until the final judgment. (The new Denzinger numbers are 990-991.) This mistake, which did not compromise either John XXII’s authority as the Vicar of Christ or the truth of Catholic doctrine, had to be corrected later.

We should *not *allow the Devil to use the ITC statement on limbo to injure our faith. We should *not *start asking: “In addition to the dogma of original sin, which other dogmas or moral teachings will be overturned?” No dogma or moral teaching has been or will be reversed. Our Lord has promised that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Catholic Church, and the Mother of God is always crushing all heresies.

We must especially avoid the false solutions of “traditionalist” schism and sedevacantism. Please remember that St. Paul opted for neither of these dead ends when St. Peter, the first Pope, scandalized the Catholics of Antioch (Gal 2:11). We must not make the crisis in the human dimensions of the Church worse than it already is.

We should pray for the millions of Catholics who will scandalized by what the ITC has done. We should ask Our Lady of Fátima to guide the Holy Father and to strengthen our faith.

Keep and spread the Faith.

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