Does original sin condemn unborn babies?

If invincible ignorance does not preclude the possibility of salvation, nor would the souls of unborn babies be automatically condemned. Nobody can be more invincibly ignorant than unborn babies.

Beyond that we do not know, but we must trust in God’s perfect mercy, and that God above all, is not a tyrant.

Absolutely, however nowhere in there it is explicitly affirm that all who die without baptism will go there. What it does say is that GOD can work as HE please and we believe HIM to be a just GOD.
The Church does believe that there are other “places” apart from Hell and from Heaven. Since Jesus Himself spoke explicitly about these and there is a tension between knowing that Baptism is the “normal” way for salvation and that there can be ways by which GOD can choose to save someone.
Remember, Baptism is the normal way for salvation but one can trow away that and choose perdition instead. It is up to us to choose.
The destiny of the souls of the infants that have died without Baptism has not been settled on this side of eternity. We don’t know and the Church allows for speculation. No Dogma on it.
Peace!

It just seems to me that it was the churches teaching and hasn’t been so much done away with as buried or rebranded.
Consider the quotes provided by rose:

The souls of those who die in mortal sin or with original sin only…immediately descend into Hell, yet to be punished with different punishments". —Pope Gregory X, Second Council of Lyons, 1274

“The souls of those who depart this life in actual mortal sin, or in original sin alone, go down straightaway to hell to be punished, but with unequal pains”. —Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, Laetentur Caeli , 6 July 1439

That is official church teaching, how do we reconcile this?

1 Like

I’ve given you my treatment of the question. I’m leaving this thread now.

Thanks for your input brother, peace.

It is a de fide teaching of the Church that those who die in mortal sin or in original sin alone both go to hell but suffer unequal punishments:

“The souls of those who die in mortal sin or with original sin only…immediately descend into hell, yet to be punished with different punishments". —Pope Gregory X, Second Council of Lyons, 1274

“The souls of those who depart this life in actual mortal sin, or in original sin alone, go down straightaway to hell to be punished, but with unequal pains”. —Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, Laetentur Caeli, 6 July 1439

When it comes to unbaptized infants, one cannot argue that because they have not committed any actual sin and are therefore “innocent,” they ought to go to heaven. A person is not saved by being “innocent,” but by having sanctifying grace, which requires baptism, whether by water, blood, or desire. Because baptism of blood and desire require an act of the will, infants can only be saved by baptism of water, which is why St. Thomas Aquinas urges mothers to have their children baptized as soon as possible, because for them there is “no other remedy.”

“It is not unjust to punish us for the sin of our first parents, because their punishment consisted in being deprived of a free gift of God…to which they had no strict right and which they willfully forfeited by their act of disobedience” (Baltimore Catechism, q. 257). No individual, even if he has not committed any personal sin, has any entitlement to a friendship with God; it is because of God’s love and mercy that Adam and Eve even had the possibility of the Beatific Vision! It is perfectly in-line with His justice if those who die in a state of original sin, with no personal sin, are still deprived of the Beatific Vision.

At the same time, though an individual who dies in a state of original sin alone cannot enter into heaven, he also cannot be punished for personal, actual sins, because he has committed none. The theory of limbo, a state of natural happiness in which unbaptized infants are deprived of the Beatific Vision but otherwise do not suffer, arose as a consequence of this theological dilemma. It is featured extensively in the writings of many saints, doctors, and fathers through the ages which have the full approval of the Church. While limbo is not explicitly mentioned in the aforementioned councils, it has become part of Catholic tradition and cannot be easily dismissed out of hand.

(cont’d)

The error many are making in this thread is assuming that only dogma is binding, and that anything that is not dogma is up for speculation. This is not the case, as many non-dogmatic teachings are indeed binding, because they belong to other levels of theological certainty. While limbo is not a dogma, as many here have correctly pointed out, it cannot be wholly disregarded as a mere “speculation,” because it is a theological conclusion that has been proposed by countless saints, doctors, and fathers, and thus is sententia ad fidem pertinens (i.e., theologice certa).

This is why under the heading “The Punishment of Those Who Die with Original Sin Only," Pius VI’s Auctorem fidei reads: “The doctrine which rejects as a Pelagian fable, that place of hell—usually called by the faithful ‘Children’s Limbo’—in which the soul of those dying with only original sin are punished by the pain of loss without any pain of fire; and this taken to mean that by denying the pain of fire one can thereby necessarily postulate a middle state or place involving neither guilt nor penalty between the Kingdom of God and eternal damnation, such as Pelagians have invented—false, rash, slanderous to Catholic schools."

—trans. from “Children’s Limbo, Theory or Doctrine?” by Father Joseph Le Blanc, C.J.M., American Ecclesiastical Review , September 1947, p. 167.

Hello rose, it seems as though you’ve answered my question, this is exactly how I took the traditional teaching, yet it seems harsh.

My question came up when reading the EO perspective on the Immaculate Conception.

In my readings the question of unborn/unbaptized babies didn’t come up, but rather it was stating that the idea of the Immaculate Conception doesn’t necessarily conflict with eastern orthodox teaching as they believe that all are born sinless, yet inheriting from Adam’s original sin a fallen nature the punishment of which is death, hence no need to define that Mary was immaculately conceived only that she continued throughout life without sin.

Well reading about this it dawned on me the question of original sin and unbaptized or unborn babies, this question may have come to me because my wife and I lost a baby due to miscarriage.
Now I find myself with conflicting beliefs wondering if the traditional Catholic teaching is correct or if not the EO teaching is correct.

It almost seems to me that the EO teaching is correct and if they are correct on this teaching, are they possibly correct on other teachings?

The more I ponder this, I am more confused.
Honestly it’s headache inducing.

CCC, section 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,"64 allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism.

1 Like

I have heard of an abortionist in Eastern Europe, who had a dream with St Thomas aquinas in it. Apparently in the dream he was in heaven and, all these children were there playing, and apparently when they seen him the children ran away, to a monk clothed in a robe. The monk then approached him and told him that he was St Thomas aquinas, and the children were running away from him because he killed them. Apparently after this he converted to Catholicism and never done abortions again. I think he still alive too.

1 Like

The Church doesn’t know.

Ultimately we only have theological speculation on what happens to unbaptized persons who pass away before the age of reason. “Limbo” is generally seen as a part of Hell (broadly construed). St. Thomas Aquinas taught that such babies and children would be resurrected, that they would not have the supernatural happiness of the beatific vision, but that they would have a natural happiness in their existence, experience a natural level of goodness, and would not suffer the pains of Hell, even the pain of loss.

The Church has somewhat retreated from speculation (we shouldn’t treat that as a dirty word in this context, though) and instead seems to just say we don’t know but we can hold out hope in the mercy of God to forgive them of original sin.

The limbo is a place of great natural happiness. And this is where God sends unborn babies. It is called limbus puerorum. This isn’t declared dogma (yet).

Remember that God is Justice, so He would neve send innocent people to hell, which is eternal suffering.

It is also important to understand that every human is stained by original sin. However, this isn’t a punishment on us by God because of our fathers’ sin. Instead, think of this as if we were a generation of a community that lives where a nuclear bomb exploded not long ago because our fathers messed up. We didn’t explode it, but we have to deal with the radiation nonetheless.

God can cleanse them of original sin gratuitously. St. Thomas Aquinas explains:

Children while in the mother’s womb have not yet come forth into the world to live among other men. Consequently they cannot be subject to the action of man, so as to receive the sacrament, at the hands of man, unto salvation. They can, however, be subject to the action of God, in Whose sight they live, so as, by a kind of privilege, to receive the grace of sanctification; as was the case with those who were sanctified in the womb.

http://www.newadvent.org/summa/4068.htm#article11

If He chooses not to, then they would be excluded from the beatific vision. He has not revealed what He chooses for each soul. Pray for their salvation.

Things like this are just not for us to know. We should entrust them to the mercy of God.

1 Like

Limbo is a dubious concept in CATHOLOCISM I think.
The Nicene Creed seems to have spurred on a necessity for limbo. ( He desended into hell).
And something I haven’t yet researched is the first 1000 years where Ransom Theory of Atonement was predominant.
Satan didn’t seem to have a two tier system of souls ( contemplated by the theory). This Christian/ Catholic theory of Atonement overlaps the Nicene Creed. “Hell” should have been consistent for both. It doesn’t change until Saint Anselm.
The passages of Saint Augustine and later Saint Thomas on this subject with children represent the ones I found most difficult to swollow.

Limbo is not a condemnation; it’s “happily ever after” in the most natural way, though “deprived” of glory (which they will never experience as a deprivation since they were never in sanctifying grace). The demons will not torment those souls. We are free to believe that. Baptism is still ordinarily necessary for eternal glorification. We are also free to believe that God gives the Beatific Vision to whomever he wills, and we cannot limit his mercy. A mother whose child is miscarried or who regrets an abortion can pray that God grant an extraordinary grace so they can join them in heaven.

I don’t disagree with your explanation being accurate.
I just have a million problems with Limbo.
( As opposed to purgation)
Our purpose is Divine Union with God.
Anything other than Divine union represents the very definition of Hell to many.
I don’t go in for demons with pitch forks but I do consider our purpose, Divine union, central to my faith.
Limbo does not seem to fit. Either you are with God or not. Not is hell.

Again, you hit a right point. If it is to be accepted, Limbo is still not a third final state. It is hell. That’s why it’s called limbo to begin with.

There is," he who pass these gates hath no hope," hell, and this other place. The other place is apparently not purgatory either, as purgation does not help.

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.