Confused about unbaptized infants and Catholic teaching


#1

I recently read that the Catholic church was backing away from the concept of Limbo. In research I dug up the following which appears to come from a Catholic source is this accurate. I sometimes have real problems believing what I see one the Internet

The definition of Carthage XVI that there is no place anywhere of rest and happiness and that infants are punished in the fire
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The canons of Carthage XVI are considered to be infallible by Roman Catholic theologians because Pope St. Innocent (-417) and Pope St. Zosimus (-418) approved of them as a rule of the faith. The canons include the following.
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“It has been decided likewise that if anyone says that for this reason the Lord said: “In my house there are many mansions”: that it might be understood that in the kingdom of heaven there will be some middle place or some place anywhere where happy infants live who departed from this life without baptism, without which they cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven, which is life eternal, let him be anathema. For when the Lord says: “Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he shall not enter into the kingdom of God” [John 3:5], what Catholic will doubt that he will be a partner of the devil who has not deserved to be a coheir of Christ? For he who lacks the right part will without doubt run into the left [cf. Matt. 25:41,46].”
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The canon was written by St. Augustine who was present at the council and condemns the doctrine of the Pelagians regarding the fate of unbaptized infants. It also defines his own doctrine about their fate, as the true doctrine of the Catholic Faith.
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Patrick J. Toner in his article on Limbo in the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1910 admits that the Fathers of Carthage condemned the “Pelagian teaching affirming the existence of ‘an intermediate place, or of any place anywhere at all (ullus alicubi locus), in which children who pass out of this life unbaptized live in happiness.’” He further admits that the canon means that “unbaptized infants share in the common positive misery of the damned”.
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“In the course of the controversy Augustine condemned, and persuaded the Council of Carthage to condemn, the Pelagian teaching affirming the existence of 'an intermediate place, or of any place anywhere at all (ullus alicubi locus), in which children who pass out of this life unbaptized live in happiness'. This means that St. Augustine and the African Fathers believed that unbaptized infants share in the common positive misery of the damned.” (Limbo, Catholic Encyclopedia)
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Toner tells us that this was admitted by St. Robert Bellarmine (-1621) and various other outstanding theologians who recognized that, “in excluding unbaptized children from any place or state even of natural happiness and condemning them to the fire of Hell, St. Augustine, the Council of Carthage, and later African Fathers, like Fulgentius, intended to teach no mere private opinion, but a doctrine of Catholic Faith.” They perceived that it “seemed to compromise the very principle of the authority of tradition” to depart from that doctrine.
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“Besides the professed advocates of Augustinianism, the principal theologians who belonged to the first party were Bellarmine, Petavius, and Bossuet, and the chief ground of their opposition to the previously prevalent Scholastic view was that its acceptance seemed to compromise the very principle of the authority of tradition. As students of history, they felt bound to admit that, in excluding unbaptized children from any place or state even of natural happiness and condemning them to the fire of Hell, St. Augustine, the Council of Carthage, and later African Fathers, like Fulgentius, intended to teach no mere private opinion, but a doctrine of Catholic Faith.” (Limbo, Catholic Encyclopedia)


#2

The canons of Carthage XVI is not an infallible teaching of the Church.

I understand that Limbo was never an official doctrine of the Church. It was a legal construct to cater for unbaptised babies (who were under the age of reason) and so couldn't be punished in Hell fire but certain biblical passages made it hard to insist that unbaptised babies would go to Heaven. So, it was taught that unbaptised babies went to an intermediate place which was dubbed 'Limbo'. The nuns taught us about Limbo but the concept of Limbo was dropped after Vatican II.


#3

The CCC states they are left to the mercy of God. Here is an old article that talks about how how a Vatican theological commission considered the question.

catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0605701.htm


#4

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#5

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