If Limbo exists

Right off the bat, let me make it clear that I know what the Church teaches about babies who die without baptism - that we can’t know whether they will go to Heaven or not, and that we can only hope and leave them to God’s mercy. Catholics are free to believe in the idea of Limbo of the infants, or to reject it.

My question is, if Limbo DOES exist, would that mean that those in Heaven would be unable to see/interact/etc with those in Limbo? For example, if a mother lost her baby to miscarriage, and she went to Heaven, would she be able to meet her baby, or would she be forever separated from him? Have theologians and saints specifically addressed this issue? Or does anyone have an argument to make a case one way or the other?

Again, to reiterate, this is NOT meant to be a debate about whether Limbo exists. I’m not looking for people to respond, “It doesn’t matter because Limbo doesn’t exist and they all go to Heaven,” or “Well, I personally don’t believe in Limbo” and so on. I know all that, I know it’s not a defined teaching, that Catholics are free to believe either way etc. I’m specifically asking, IF it does exist, then what does that mean for those who have loved ones there?

I guess I’ll say for those who are wondering that yes, I do have a personal reason for asking this. I’ve got family who died before birth, and frankly it’s tearing me apart this fear that I’m never going to meet them. I’m not even so worried about Heaven vs Limbo on the grounds that I know that whatever the truth is, they’ll be happy in either place. I’m just afraid I won’t get to meet them, and I guess it’s pretty selfish, and who cares so long as they’re happy, but I can’t seem to get over this, and no matter who I ask (I think I’ve asked at least half a dozen priests so far), no one can give me an answer on this.

As CS Lewis puts it, no “soft soap”, please. If you’ve good reason to think that no, those in Heaven would be completely separated from those in Limbo, then please tell me so. I’d rather know.

My initial thought is that they probably would be separated because if they weren’t, the children would know about heaven, and could feel sad that they don’t get to go there.

However I’m not confident that that’s a good reason. For one, perhaps it is possible to know about heaven, understand God’s justice, and accept it in love. In that case, why not also let them experience a limited communion with their family in some way, if it wouldn’t make them sad?

I’m not confident that’s a good reason either.

It seems to me anyone in heaven could visit anyone in Limbo, but not vice versa. Even the Lord can visit Limbo, and talk, and teach those people, and the children as he did on earth. Certainly all three members of the Trinity could visit Limbo, but those in Limbo are unable to enjoy the Beatific vision. A reward only for those in heaven.:slight_smile:

Limbo is for a person who is unwilling to commit himself for the salvation of many.

I do believe in limbo. To me it is the only logical solution that reconciles our sinful natures and the dogma of original sin that shut the doors of heaven and a good and loving God.

But here is something to ponder, if limbo exists then it is probably larger population wise than heaven. Think about it. We emotionally get involved when we know it’s a baby we lost. But think of all the unknown miscarriages or early miscarriages throughout the entirety of history. Not to mention abortions and birth control that can terminate or help terminate a new human.

I tend to reject the theological concept of Limbo and entrust these children to God’s Mercy.
Given God’s Mercy I hope and personally believe there is a good chance these children are in heaven.



Limbo is one potentially valid concept, but even then it is nebulous, as revelation simply remains silent in this area.

I think that one of the greatest misconceptions on planet earth is our tendency to project our earthly, temporal concerns onto the eternal. In our culture, we stress the beatific vision perhaps less than ever, and thus, heaven becomes more earth-like and less “heavenly.”

While we can only commit the care of all souls to the eternal and supremely merciful God, it is not actually our concern as to what He chooses to do with His creations. Do we ever ponder the beatific vision? Do we understand it? Do we comprehend the fact that our joy will be complete?

Earth and earthly concerns will have passed away. Non-existent. Gone. God does not burden us with concerns, but rather, calls us to absolute completion and joyfilled amazement in His presence, beholding Him.

If limbo is a comfort, then ponder it. However, if we truly desire to know the ultimate fate of pre-baptismal children, let each of us focus on attaining final perseverance.

If Limbo exists (and yeah, I’m one of those “entrust to the mercy of God” folks), then what would lead you to conclude “they’re forever separated” from those in heaven? That doesn’t necessarily follow logically.

The best I can wrap my head around your presupposition is a potential recourse to the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, where there was a ‘chasm’ between them in the afterlife – but even there, the rich man was in hell, not limbo!

The definition of limbo, per se, is a state of eternal happiness, but without the full experience of the Beatific Vision. There’s nothing there that suggests there are barbed-wire fences up that separate saints from Limbo-ites. In fact, part of the history of the notion of limbo is the Church teaching that there are two – not three – eternal destinations. That means that, even if limbo exists, it’s not a ‘separate’ place, but rather, a different way of experiencing eternal bliss. To my mind, then, it’s not a way of saying “you’ll be separated from your loved ones for eternity.” If you want to make that argument, you’ll have to show how you reach that conclusion, 'cause it isn’t obvious that this is the case…

Anything is possible with God.

God can do whatever He desires.

We should not concern ourselves with things we won’t know or understand in this life.


Aborted babies are created souls who haven’t been Baptized but birth control is not in the same category. Sperm & egg did not begin to form a human being.
If you have flour, milk & eggs but don’t mix them together to make a cake…then you didn’t destroy a cake. :rolleyes:

Just a couple of thoughts…One, some saints can interact with people on Earth with God’s permission so that same interaction would seem to be possible to a person in Limbo. Second if Limbo is a place of perfect natural happiness, then wouldn’t it make sense that if that interaction was necessary for happiness it would be permitted?

There will be a final judgment where everyone will be judged and either go to heaven or hell. That is Church teaching. How does this fit in with Limbo? Limbo was never a Church teaching, and it only goes to illustrate the confusion that can be caused when we try to speculate on things that have not been revealed to us. God has not revealed everything to us, and some things we just have to leave in His hands and not speculate on.

My first reaction to this question is that it is one of those questions that would remind me of two blind people discussing and arguing over the color blue.

We can only speculate and imagine. Until we see God face to face, we are not going to have the answer to this one.

It depends on the birth control. With a condom you are correct however we have no way of knowing if fertilization occurred but implantation did not with something like the pill. So we really don’t know the potential humans that could have been destroyed. This is the same for Norplant and others.

Thanks as always Clare! :hug1:

Please explain as this does not make sense.

Whether their relatives are in hell or in limbo, those in heaven will experience the Beatific Vision, and they will thereby understand the utter justice involved in their relative’s eternal state.

I actually don’t know. Can you actually interact with say, a 3 month fetus’ soul?

I don’t think limbo exists (if it does, that’s one of the saddest things about the faith ever), but if it does and it’s possible to interact with those souls, I’m sure God allows some “visits”?

In my opinion, limbo, as an idea, is very merciful and a great joy, if it is true. Why would it be sad?

However, it is worth pointing out that several Fathers and Doctors of the Church seem to suggest that unbaptized infants can go to heaven, at least in some cases.

395 A.D. - St. Gregory of Nyssa - “[He] who has purged himself of [sin]…receives the due reward of his diligence, when he enters [a life of grace after death]; while he who refuses [grace]…gets himself into an unnatural state, and so is estranged from [a life of grace after death]… Whereas the innocent babe has no [sin] before its soul’s eyes obscuring its measure of light, and so it continues to exist in [a] life [of grace after death].” (On Infants’ Early Deaths)

~1270 A.D. - St. Thomas Aquinas - “Children while in the mother’s womb have not yet come forth into the world to live among other men. Consequently they cannot be [baptized], 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." (Summa Theologiae Part 3 Question 68 Article 11)

1500s A.D. - Cardinal Cajetan - “[C]hildren [who are] still within the womb of their mother are able to be saved…through the sacrament of baptism that is received, not in reality, but in the desire of the parents.” (Commentary on the Summa Theologica Part 3 Question 68 Article 11)

St. Bernard of Clairvaux is also worth mentioning here. He is a Doctor of the Church from the 1100s, and he apparently taught the possibility of salvation for unbaptized infants based on the faith of their parents in his book On Baptism. I haven’t found an English translation yet, and my own attempts at translating the relevant passage have so far proved ineffective, but here it is in Latin with a significant portion underlined:

“Sed forte aliquis dicat, eos quidem qui non audierunt, etsi non de contemptu judicari, damnari tamen propter originale peccatum, a quo utique nisi per lavacrum emundari minime potuerunt. At vero quis nesciat et alia praeter Baptismum contra originale peccatum remedia antiquis non defuisse temporibus? Abrahae quidem et semini ejus, circumcisionis sacramentum in hoc ipsum divinitus traditum est (Gen XVII, 10). In nationibus vero, quotquot inventi sunt fideles, adultos quidem fide et sacrificiis credimus expiatos, parvulis autem solam profuisse, imo et suffecisse parentum fidem. Porro hoc ita quidem usque ad Baptismi tempora perdurasse: quo uno substituto, vacasse caetera.” (De Baptismo Chapter 1 Paragraph 4)

If anyone wants to try to translate that passage, that would be awesome! Allegedly, it teaches that it is possible for the parents’s faith (and others’s?) to save infants who die without Baptism.

If pigs fly…

What is the real question?

Are you asking about the Communion of Saints? That is professed in the Apostles’ Creed.

Or are you wondering about the Mystical Body of Christ? Membership does not depend on when a person dies.

Are you asking about the Beatific Vision?

Are you asking about the Divine Power of God to touch a soul?

I realize that the idea of Limbo is still around. However, when one checks CCC 1260 and last line of CCC 1257, one learns that the idea of Limbo is not necessary. Those interested in Scripture can go deep into the meanings (plural intended) of Genesis 1: 26-27.

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