Is limbo true?

May I ask a question about something I was informed about by a practising Catholic. The word LIMBO was used. I had just buried my child of less than a year old. I was knocked sideways to be told bluntly that my child was in Limbo. My only comfort at the time was believing my child was safe in heaven. The blunt statement given to me was horrifying and destructive. It caused me to despair and to leave the church. After many years I am cautiously trying to return. Please can you tell me the true answer. Thankyou.

There was a theological concept in the Church that unbaptized infants and righteous pagans who never heard of Christ would go to a place called Limbo when they died. The idea was that it was a place of natural happiness but it lacked the supernatural happiness of beholding the Beatific Vision. It was never formally defined or declared by the Church and thus remained simply a very popular theological proposal. In the 20th century this idea quickly lost popularity amongst the laity and theologians. While the idea has never been formally accepted by the Church it has also never been formally condemned and thus remains a valid, if unpopular, theory.

As the International Theological Commission’s document The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptized notes:

This theory, elaborated by theologians beginning in the Middle Ages, never entered into the dogmatic definitions of the Magisterium, even if that same Magisterium did at times mention the theory in its ordinary teaching up until the Second Vatican Council. It remains therefore a possible theological hypothesis. However, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992), the theory of limbo is not mentioned. Rather, the Catechism teaches that infants who die without baptism are entrusted by the Church to the mercy of God, as is shown in the specific funeral rite for such children.

  1. Secondly, taking account of the principle lex orandi lex credendi, the Christian community notes that there is no mention of Limbo in the liturgy…
  1. …Papal interventions during this period, then, protected the freedom of the Catholic schools to wrestle with this question. They did not endorse the theory of Limbo as a doctrine of faith. Limbo, however, was the common Catholic teaching until the mid-20th century.
  1. Therefore, besides the theory of Limbo (which remains a possible theological opinion), there can be other ways to integrate and safeguard the principles of the faith grounded in Scripture…

We live by faith and hope in the God of mercy and love who has been revealed to us in Christ, who once said to let the children come to him for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them (Matthew 19:14).

I will keep you and your child in my prayers…

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