Is limbo going away?


#1

I found an article stating that limbo might be going away in the Catholic church. I then found an article on a Catholic site saying that it might not be for all unbaptized infants.
“Thus, a Limbo for the unbaptized unborn and born infants continues to be held as worthy of belief in the Church, but in the mercy of God perhaps not all unbaptized infants go there.”

What do we believe?

Here is the original article:
western-star.com/school/content/shared/news/stories/LIMBO_1202_COX.html

Here is the Catholic article on “Catholic Culture”:
catholicculture.org/docs/doc_view.cfm?recnum=4387

Just curious, this has always been confusing for me.
God bless,
-Amy


#2

Amy, Limbo has never been an official teaching of the Church. That is why, in the current Catechism of the Catholic Church, one reads that one can trust in God to deal with the hoped for salvation of those unborn, unbaptized infants. Something like the idea of Limbo COULD be the way, but we don’t know if it IS the way. It was a possible explanation but never an official one.


#3

All limbo ever was (except for the limbo of the early Fathers before Christ) was a bad theological speculation. It was never part of the deposit of faith or the Magisterium. I’m glad to see it go.


#4

I think Limbo is the place the righteous waited until Jesus opened the gates of heaven afer he redeemed the world at the great sacrifice.


#5

It’s an area that clearly has not been fully revealed to us by God. I think the Church has tried to understand, and may be admitting it doesn’t completely understand because God has not revealed enough to us.


#6

I can’t resist…sorry…but Limbo appears to be in Limbo. :slight_smile:


#7

Thank you for all the thoughtful replies…especially you StCsDavid… it made me laugh… :stuck_out_tongue:

I guess limbo is just something that has never really been anything but an in-between place. I always assumed limbo was purgatory, like sheol or something. So, it’s not necessarily a bad place, just not quite heaven.

What got me upset a bit was when my local newspaper mentioned it in their “Hot/Cold” section… and the Catholic church was “Cold” because it took them so long to supposedly get rid of limbo… and I wondered if we really had gotten rid of it or what. Like I said, I always thought it was basically purgatory. I guess we’ll never know til we get there ourselves! :wink:

God bless!
-Amy


#8

This will now be used by heretical Catholics as “proof” that the Church was in error in the past and has changed its doctrine.

See! The Church even changed on limbo! One day women will be ordained. I am apart of the Church of the future. You are apart of the Church of the past, the old medieval Church.”

I never like the hypothesis of limbo, so I’ll be happy if they discard it. What many forget is that there are different degrees of receptivity (bliss) in heaven depending on the state of one’s soul. If you read a life of a saint like Therese, one may be surprised how she abandoned herself to the will of God in every little thing. She responded to the grace of God and made herself a capacity of divine grace by emptying herself of worldly desires and worries. That is no small achievement… trusting in God in everything thing and obeying His will at every moment (doing your duties/obligations with love, in effect making your life one continual prayer and offering before God).

The soul you die with carries over to the afterlife, obviously. And if a person makes a bedside confession and did not have time to toil with spiritual growth and development because that person died right after conversion, he/she will not be able to experience everything that Therese does in heaven. God desires to wholly engross our souls and fill it with divine love, but responding to divine grace is difficult and is not a one time deal (prayer this Jesus prayer and you’ll be saved, now go back to the quest for fame, fortune, worldly love & admiration). It is a day in & day out struggle.

Purgatory is the purification of the imperfect soul before entering heaven. But what is purified in purgatory will not yield any merit or bliss in heaven. The cleansing in purgatory is not the result of a soul responding to grace in obedience and love, as is the case here on earth (thus leading to spiritual growth). The souls in purgatory do not have a choice in their purification. They love God and died in a state of grace, and know their imperfect and stained souls must be purified.


#9

[quote=Hildebrand]This will now be used by heretical Catholics as “proof” that the Church was in error in the past and has changed its doctrine.

This is problematic because limbo is supposed to be an undocumented teaching, a common teaching, and yet it is clearly documented in the Baltimore Catechism.

My father grew up reading the Baltimore Catechism. If the teaching of limbo is actually part of a Catechism, even if it is just the Baltimore Catechism and not the Catechism of the entire Catholic Church, why wouldn’t a practicing Catholic think anything other than that the teachings are something to put faith and practice into? Is that not what Catechisms are for?

As Fagin wrote, “Most Catholics, of course, made no distinction between defined doctrines and what appeared in the catechism. It was all church teaching, to be accepted without question”

Rev. Kurt Stasiak, O.S.B.Saint Meinrad School of Theology St. Meinrad, IN

Our catechesis today emphasizes that there is more—much more—to baptism than the remission of original sin. Yet, in the minds of some parents the relationship between baptism and original sin retains its fearful power. This fearful power is shown clearly in a chart I use when I teach the course on baptism to our first year seminarians. It is a copy of the layout of a Catholic parish cemetery. The graves, with the names of the deceased faithful, are arranged in neat rows. And then there is something peculiar: something that catches the twenty- or thirty-something seminarians by surprise; something that elicits a knowing nod and a sympathetic smile from the older generation. Outside the boundary of the cemetery—immediately adjacent to it, but clearly outside the fence—is a space reserved for “unbaptized babies.” This picture is worth a thousand words, for this diagram explains the concept of limbo quite clearly: those babies who died without baptism, i.e., with original sin still on their souls, were not really part of the Church. They were sort of “near” the
Church, as their placement just outside the cemetery fence indicates. But they did not really belong with—they were not really in the same place (both in this good earth and hereafter) as their deceased parents, relatives, and fellow parishioners. I dare say that every Catholic educated before Vatican Council II was taught that an unbaptized child would spend eternity in that state known as “limbo.” The child would not suffer physical pain, as Saint Augustine held, but, as was the common opinion from the Scholastic period onward, the child, while enjoying completenatural bliss, would be forever deprived of the beatific vision.

Food for thought.

Blessings,
Richard
[/quote]


#10

[quote=Richard_Hurtz]This is problematic because limbo is supposed to be an undocumented teaching, a common teaching, and yet it is clearly documented in the Baltimore Catechism.

My father grew up reading the Baltimore Catechism. If the teaching of limbo is actually part of a Catechism, even if it is just the Baltimore Catechism and not the Catechism of the entire Catholic Church, why wouldn’t a practicing Catholic think anything other than that the teachings are something to put faith and practice into? Is that not what Catechisms are for?
[/quote]

The Baltimore Catechism was prepared by a council of American bishops. A group of American bishops cannot declare anything to be infallible. More importantly, this is what the Baltimore Catechism says about limbo:

but it is the common belief

they [those who die without baptism & have committed no actual sin] will go to some place similar to Limbo, where they will be free from suffering, though deprived of the happiness of heaven.

**

Imagine if in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it stated: It is the common belief Jesus rose from the dead. It is the common belief Jesus was God. So the Baltimore Catechism did not teach it as doctrine.

Here is the Catholic Answer’s “Ask an Apologist” explanation about limbo:

http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=88713


#11

Pope St. Innocent, 414: “But that which Your Fraternity asserts the Pelagians preach, that even without the grace of Baptism infants are able to be endowed with the rewards of eternal life, is quite idiotic.” (Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol. 3: 2016.)

St. Augustine, Letter to Jerome, 415: “Anyone who would say that even infants who pass from this life without participation in the Sacrament [of Baptism] shall be made alive in Christ truly goes counter to the preaching of the Apostle and condemns the whole Church, where there is great haste in baptizing infants because it is believed without doubt that there is no other way at all in which they can be made alive in Christ.” (Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol. 3:1439)

Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, “Letentur coeli,” Sess. 6, July 6, 1439, ex cathedra: “We define also that… the souls of those who depart this life in actual mortal sin, or in original sin alone, go straightaway to hell, but to undergo punishments of different kinds.” (Denz. 693)

Pope Pius VI, Auctorem fidei, Aug. 28, 1794:

“26. The doctrine which rejects as a Pelagian fable, that place of the lower regions (which the faithful generally designate by the name of the limbo of the children) in which the souls of those departing with the sole guilt of original sin are punished with the punishment of the condemned, exclusive of the punishment of fire, just as if, by this very fact, that these who remove the punishment of fire introduced that middle place and state free of guilt and of punishment between the kingdom of God and eternal damnation, such as that about which the Pelagians idly talk” – **Condemned **as false, rash, injurious to Catholic schools. (1954 Denz. 1596).

Pope Pius VI condemns the idea of some theologians that infants who die in original sin suffer the fires of Hell. At the same time, he confirms that these infants do go to a part of the lower regions (i.e., Hell) called the limbo of the children. They do not go to Heaven, but to a place in Hell where there is no fire.

Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, Session 11, Feb. 4, 1442, ex cathedra: “Regarding children, indeed, because of danger of death, which can often take place, when no help can be brought to them by another remedy than through the sacrament of baptism, through which they are snatched from the domination of the Devil [original sin] and adopted among the sons of God, it advises that holy baptism ought not be deferred for forty or eighty days, or any time according to the observance of certain people…” (Denz. 712)

Eugene IV here defines infallibly that there is no other remedy for infants to be snatched away from the dominion of the devil (i.e., original sin) other than the Sacrament of Baptism. This means that anyone who obstinately teaches that infants can be saved without receiving the Sacrament of Baptism is a heretic, for he is teaching that there is another remedy for original sin in children other than the Sacrament of Baptism.

Pope Martin V, Council of Constance, Session 15, July 6, 1415 - Condemning the articles of John Wyclif - Proposition 6*: “*Those who claim that the children of the faithful dying without sacramental baptism will not be saved, are stupid and presumptuous in saying this.”- Condemned (Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, Vol. 1, p. 422.)
The arch-heretic John Wyclif was anathematized for this assertion.

Pope Paul III, The Council of Trent, On Original Sin, Session V, ex cathedra: “If anyone says that recently born babies should not be baptized even if they have been born to baptized parents; or says that they are indeed baptized for the remission of sins, but incur no trace of the original sin of Adam needing to be cleansed by the laver of rebirth for them to obtain eternal life, with the necessary consequence that in their case there is being understood a form of baptism for the remission of sins which is not true, but false: **let him be anathema.” **(Denz. 791).

This means that anyone who asserts that infants don’t need the “laver of rebirth” (water baptism) to attain eternal life is teaching heresy.

No. Limbo isn’t going anywhere. The best that will be done on any non-pronouncment pronouncement is that it will be politically suppressed and theologically obfuscated.


#12

[quote=TNT]Pope St. Innocent, 414: “But that which Your Fraternity asserts the Pelagians preach, that even without the grace of Baptism infants are able to be endowed with the rewards of eternal life, is quite idiotic.” (Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol. 3: 2016.)

St. Augustine, Letter to Jerome, 415: “Anyone who would say that even infants who pass from this life without participation in the Sacrament [of Baptism] shall be made alive in Christ truly goes counter to the preaching of the Apostle and condemns the whole Church, where there is great haste in baptizing infants because it is believed without doubt that there is no other way at all in which they can be made alive in Christ.” (Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol. 3:1439)

Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, “Letentur coeli,” Sess. 6, July 6, 1439, ex cathedra: “We define also that… the souls of those who depart this life in actual mortal sin, or in original sin alone, go straightaway to hell, but to undergo punishments of different kinds.” (Denz. 693)

Pope Pius VI, Auctorem fidei, Aug. 28, 1794:

“26. The doctrine which rejects as a Pelagian fable, that place of the lower regions (which the faithful generally designate by the name of the limbo of the children) in which the souls of those departing with the sole guilt of original sin are punished with the punishment of the condemned, exclusive of the punishment of fire, just as if, by this very fact, that these who remove the punishment of fire introduced that middle place and state free of guilt and of punishment between the kingdom of God and eternal damnation, such as that about which the Pelagians idly talk” – **Condemned **as false, rash, injurious to Catholic schools. (1954 Denz. 1596).

Pope Pius VI condemns the idea of some theologians that infants who die in original sin suffer the fires of Hell. At the same time, he confirms that these infants do go to a part of the lower regions (i.e., Hell) called the limbo of the children. They do not go to Heaven, but to a place in Hell where there is no fire.

Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, Session 11, Feb. 4, 1442, ex cathedra: “Regarding children, indeed, because of danger of death, which can often take place, when no help can be brought to them by another remedy than through the sacrament of baptism, through which they are snatched from the domination of the Devil [original sin] and adopted among the sons of God, it advises that holy baptism ought not be deferred for forty or eighty days, or any time according to the observance of certain people…” (Denz. 712)

Eugene IV here defines infallibly that there is no other remedy for infants to be snatched away from the dominion of the devil (i.e., original sin) other than the Sacrament of Baptism. This means that anyone who obstinately teaches that infants can be saved without receiving the Sacrament of Baptism is a heretic, for he is teaching that there is another remedy for original sin in children other than the Sacrament of Baptism.

Pope Martin V, Council of Constance, Session 15, July 6, 1415 - Condemning the articles of John Wyclif - Proposition 6*: “*Those who claim that the children of the faithful dying without sacramental baptism will not be saved, are stupid and presumptuous in saying this.”- Condemned (Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, Vol. 1, p. 422.)
The arch-heretic John Wyclif was anathematized for this assertion.

Pope Paul III, The Council of Trent, On Original Sin, Session V, ex cathedra: “If anyone says that recently born babies should not be baptized even if they have been born to baptized parents; or says that they are indeed baptized for the remission of sins, but incur no trace of the original sin of Adam needing to be cleansed by the laver of rebirth for them to obtain eternal life, with the necessary consequence that in their case there is being understood a form of baptism for the remission of sins which is not true, but false: **let him be anathema.” **(Denz. 791).

This means that anyone who asserts that infants don’t need the “laver of rebirth” (water baptism) to attain eternal life is teaching heresy.

No. Limbo isn’t going anywhere. The best that will be done on any non-pronouncment pronouncement is that it will be politically suppressed and theologically obfuscated.

[/quote]

There is more than one way to achieve Baptism.


#13

[quote=TNT]This means that anyone who asserts that infants don’t need the “laver of rebirth” (water baptism) to attain eternal life is teaching heresy.
[/quote]

No Catholics I know of are asserting infants shouldn’t be baptism. Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI, is no Anabaptist. He believes in infant baptism.

Baptism by water is not the only way to be baptized:

catholic.com/library/Necessity_of_Baptism.asp

The above link does not cover possible ways for infants to be baptized without water. I’ve heard if parents desire to baptize their child, but the child dies before receiving baptism, the parents’ “baptism of desire” is sufficient for the child. This is probably nothing more than another theological theory concerning what happens to those who die without water baptism (like Limbo). :confused:

Should that theory also be taught with other theological theories? I don’t think it should. If Catholics ask such questions, the priest/theologian can answer by saying what may happen. For far too long, many Catholics have believed that is what happens, not what may happen.

Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, “Letentur coeli,” Sess. 6, July 6, 1439, ex cathedra: “We define also that… the souls of those who depart this life in actual mortal sin, or in original sin alone, go straightaway to hell, but to undergo punishments of different kinds.” (Denz. 693)

Doesn’t the above quote rule out Limbo? A person dies in original sin = straight to hell. There is no such thing as Limbo for those who die in original sin (without any baptism). Am I right, or am I wrong? I don’t know, I am not a theologian.


#14

[quote=Hildebrand]No Catholics I know of are asserting infants shouldn’t be baptism. Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI, is no Anabaptist. He believes in infant baptism.
The question is do they NEED baptism to obtain heaven (eternal life)?
Baptism by water is not the only way to be baptized:

catholic.com/library/Necessity_of_Baptism.asp

The above link does not cover possible ways for infants to be baptized without water.
So why bring it up?

I’ve heard if parents desire to baptize their child, but the child dies before receiving baptism, the parents’ “baptism of desire” is sufficient for the child.
This is probably nothing more than another theological theory concerning what happens to those who die without water baptism (like Limbo). :confused:
So why bring it up? I quoted from the Magisterium.
Should that theory also be taught with other theological theories? I don’t think it should. If Catholics ask such questions, the priest/theologian can answer by saying what may happen. For far too long, many Catholics have believed that is what happens, not what may happen.
May is subjective theology. The Magisterium teaches objective doctrine.
I’d say for too long the subjective keeps running over the objective doctrine until it’s nothing but a pancake.

Doesn’t the above quote rule out Limbo? A person dies in original sin = straight to hell. There is no such thing as Limbo for those who die in original sin (without any baptism). Am I right, or am I wrong? I don’t know, I am not a theologian.
[/quote]

No. It does not rule it out. It confirms it. There is only Heaven or hell in the end. Limbo is a non-tormented level of hell. It may even be a place of natural contentment without, however the supernatural contentment obtained only in heaven.
Our Lord said unless…born again he shall not enter the kindom of heaven. He said nothing about the consequences of the alternative. He thus refuses to disclose about the many levels of hell as he mentioned the many “mansions” of heaven.
But we do know that He taught about the mitigated or more merciful treatment of the ignorant.


#15

[quote=TNT]Our Lord said unless…born again he shall not enter the kindom of heaven.
[/quote]

That is why I brought up the link. There are some in heaven who have never been baptized with water. They are baptized nonetheless. “Baptism by blood” and “baptism by desire” are forms of baptism.


#16

I’m actually not against Limbo or for it. I think the problem everyone has is with Limbo is that our neo-rific modern world wants to believe that everyone goes to Heaven and so Limbo sounds horrible…

But if you think about it, traditionally Catholics thought that unbaptized went to Hell. The theological construct of Limbo is a very charitable effort to either lessen their suffering or make allowances that those would be in a “natural happyness”.

I hope that unbaptized babies are in Heaven, but then again I hope that every person on earth makes it to heaven. That doesn’t however make it true. That is why the concept of a Limbo is not really a bad deal.

I will personally wait till the Church pronounces on this, but honestly the tradition of the church seems to point really hard toward limbo.

It may not have been infallably declaired but the Church would still have a big “woopsie” on it’s hands if it now declaired limbo as false. It wouldn’t “proove” that the Church was not the true Church or any such nonsence, but the Church may have to say a big “I’m sorry” to the millions of mothers who thought their babies would never make it to Heaven.

Honestly as much as I am not a fan of Limbo it really makes theological sence to me.


#17

[quote=Hildebrand]The above link does not cover possible ways for infants to be baptized without water. I’ve heard if parents desire to baptize their child, but the child dies before receiving baptism, the parents’ “baptism of desire” is sufficient for the child.
[/quote]

The point I’m making is that the Church ‘hedged its bets’ and the laity (as well as the ordinary magesterium) was convinced that without “water baptism” a child went to Limbo. This evidence is clear from the actions of the parents and their priests in those situations where the child was in danger of death.

Link
As late as 1966, when I began the study of moral theology, my course notes on the morality of the sacraments included several graphic pages on the procedure for interuterine baptism in cases where the fetus was in danger of death.

Now if the parent’s ‘baptism of desire’ for the child was equivalent sacramentally in the eyes of the Church to water baptism, why go to all of the trouble of Interuterine Baptism?

You indicate that you are not a theologian, nor am I. However, it was the theologians who were teaching how to perform such a procedure. So the question I have is if Limbo was only a theological construct or theory how was it possible that the laity and the priests performing the sacrament were convinced of Limbo’s reality? The theologians instructing the seminarians seemed to be convinced of the necessity in performing the sacrament.

This actually touches on a more important issue. If the seminarians were being instructed of a ‘necessity’ that didn’t exist why didn’t ‘the Church’ correct that error?

Blessings,
Richard


closed #18

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