I had a question from a member of the Baptist Church for me to explain the Catholic “teaching” of Limbo. As I referred to the CCC, I see Limbo referenced in the Glossary to 1261; which explains the belief of what happens to children who die without being baptised. This however, in no way even referrences a place called Limbo. I did not go to far into the CCC, but does the Catholic Church ever mention a place in it’s offical Catechism?
Limbo as a physical place does not hold merit. The CCC names it as a referrence, it’s definition is not applicable to a physical place such as a heaven or a hell.
Well, if I recall correctly, there are two distinct limbos to consider; the first is the Limbo of the Patriarchs; where those who died before Jesus rested and waited for his coming.
The second limbo is the one that most people think about when they say limbo. This limbo was a theory once proposed by the Church as a solution to what happened to infants who died before they were baptized. It was suppose to be a place of natural happiness; but forever separated from the supernatural happiness that comes from being with God.
Ultimately though, it was just a theory. The Church recognized that people were mistaking the theory for a teaching and pulled back from even discussing the theory.
No, you will not find Limbo in the Catechism because Limbo is not now, nor was it ever, a teaching of the Catholic Church.
What you find in the Catechism is what the Church teaches: For infants who die without baptism we have hope in God’s mercy.
Limbo is a possible answer to the question of what happens to infants who die without Baptism. It is not a revealed to us with certainity which is why you will not find it in the Catechism. The Church teaches supported in Scripture that those who die unBaptized cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. It also condems as supported in Scripture that those who do not commit any Mortal sins are condemed to the punishments of Hell. So we are left with the perplexing question if they are not in Heaven and are not in Hell , where are they? We din’t know.
Actually, I recall that there was a question/answer in a ‘Baltimore Catechism’ used in Catholic schools in the 1950’s that said the souls of unbaptized babies went to limbo. I’m remembering this to be maybe in 3rd or 4th grade (I believe the catechisms were done by grade level). But the sister teaching us did explain that this was a theory because we know that God is just and merciful. So someone with original sin couldn’t go to heaven but babies haven’t sinned so God wouldn’t send them to hell. As a child I thought that this wasn’t a very satisfactory theory because it ruled out their ever being able to see God.