The Pope may be getting ready to jettison limbo


What do non-Catholics think about this? Of course, limbo is not mentioned in the current catechism, but non-Catholics have used limbo against Catholics for years. I understand that limbo has never been an official doctrine of the Catholic Church.


Is this hearsay or is there an official link or something?


Here are 2 links:


The idea was never an official belief. It was (more so in the past then now) a common belief, but never supported by Scripture or Tradition. It dates no earlier than the early Middle Ages, and is only an attempt by early theologians to explain what happens to unbaptized babies and the righteous pagans after death.

Limbo was only ever a speculation. And it is best left to theologians to figure out. Let us therefore trust to the wisdom and mercy of God in this matter.


Duplicate post by the same poster

Sensationalism is no good my friend and it’s a commision that is discussing the issue, and the pope isn’t on the commission, and the commission was originally called for by Pope John Paul II, so unless there’s been an apparition (which would of course lead to his cause for sainthood) your title in both posts you have made are incorrect.


I heard the same thing,3-2387589,00.html


Well at least I see where the headline is coming from. I just think it’s a misleading headline in that it makes it sound as if the pope is making this decision unilaterally, and that is not the case. The commission made the decision the pope is simply going to abide by that decision which I am sure he supports anyway since he didn’t believe in Limbo to begin with.


I’m not sensationalizing anything. I would agree with this decision because it only makes sense. I just wonder what non-Catholics thought about it which would be something to be discussed on this forum.


I’m confused by this part:

“The theologians’ finding is that God wishes all souls to be saved, and that the souls of unbaptised children are *entrusted to a “merciful God” *whose ways of ensuring salvation cannot be known. “In effect, this means that all children who die go to Heaven,” one source said. The commission’s conclusions will be approved formally by the Pope on Friday.”

Am I wrong, or has the Church always taught what is in red,and what I have in blue would be a change in our 2000 year teaching…while we can hope they go to heaven, the Church has never claimed this…it just entrusts their souls to a merciful God.


[right]JMJ + OBT[/right]

Two resources you and the other forums members may find helpful:

The article on Limbo in the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia

An article published yesterday (Oct. 4, '06) on which relates an intereview with a young theologian who recently completed his doctoral dissertation on this subject: Unbaptized Children: Limbo, Vision of God or Rahner’s reincarnation?

Interestingly enough, this scholar – who in no way projects a radical or traditionalist mindset in answering the interviewer’s questions – came to a strong conclusion:

I would however like to point out two rarely noted problems I have encountered with these arguments [against the existence of Limbo of unbaptized infants and other unbaptized innocents]. The first is, that the concept of limbo is not as homogeneous as modern discussion often assumes. Thomas Aquinas, Bonaventure, Suarez and modern limbo theologians describe limbo quite differently. For this reason some critiques of limbo apply only to a certain variation of the limbo theory, leaving the others untouched.

The second problem in many modern works is the theological discussion of church documents. It might be true that there are no definitory statements on the questions, but there is a firm tradition in the ordinary magisterium, that can not simply be discarded. It is insufficient to state that limbo was never defined, and therefore unbaptized children might equally be thought to be in heaven. Historically the doctrinal alternative to limbo never was infant salvation, but a stricter Augustinian interpretation assigning also pain of sense to the state of the children. That limbo was never defined had much to do with leaving room for the Augustinian theory as a study of the Jansenist controversy helps to see. The non-salvation of children was not disputed, except for very limited exceptions (Cajetan and some others). In my opinion a detailed study is yet to be done of some church documents with a focus on the question, but in particular of the third canon of the Council of Carthage. It seems to decide the question in favour of non-salvation, but is missing in different collections of canons. In my study, I found, that the answer usually given, namely that Rome did not accept it because of its content, needs to be reviewed, as there are statements of popes before and after the ratification of that council to the same effect as the disputed canon.

But so much to the question whether the theory of limbo is to be considered outdated. I do not think so …

… As a dissertation it is an academic not a pastoral work, although the pastoral implications of the question are quite clear. Therefore it is directed at the scholarly community, at pastors and the theologically interested laity. It is not a pastoral guide for parents dealing with the unfortunate loss of a child, as it provides merely an insight into a chapter of the history of theology. I would however like to conclude with the following personal remark. In my study I found that limbo is not only valid as an explanation, it also has a greater probability than most other theories and as a model of non-salvation a longstanding tradition with authority. I do not rejoice over the fact, that such a state could be the state of unbaptized children. But then, there are many things in this world, I find hard and difficult. I often fail to understand why God permits this or that, but I do not believe in God because he conforms to my image, but simply because God is. I trust, that how he ordains things it is right, just and merciful. (Johannes M. Schwarz, PhD, Unbaptized Children: Limbo, Vision of God or Rahner’s reincarnation?)

[emphasis mine]

In the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.



I highly doubt that the revised understanding of the fate of unbaptised babies who die will boil down to ‘they all go to heaven.’

More likely it will boil down to more like "God’s perfect justice is beyond our comprehension. No one goes to hell unjustly. No one goes to heaven without the Grace that is infused by baptism. What has changed is the realization that baptism of desire counts."
This new doctrinal development on baptism fills in the gap that previously existed in catholic teaching, the one that theologians speculated up the idea of limbo to fill.


[right]JMJ + OBT[/right]

That’s not the conclusion reached by a level-headed Catholic theologian who recently completed his doctoral dissertation on this very subject; see my post above.

In Christ.



This is just a toss up idea but could we be expecting an Ex-Cathedra anytime soon on this issue?


Sounds familiar, but in simple words. What is limbo?


In the current Catholic understanding what happens to unbaptized aborted babies?


There seem to be multiple threads on this - can the mods combine 'em?


Can anyone state when the teaching first appeared on the scene? Who first authored the idea?

I think most people would agree that it was assumed to be part of the ordinary magisterium, at least until the early 20th century.

How many theologions have taught this doctrine in the past? What does Ott write on this topic? Does TAN have any books on the subject?

I am particulary interested to know if any local councils in the west ever pronounced on the subject.

I am convinced that most Roman Catholics believed this to be an eternal Truth in 1950 , but I have no good idea about when it was invented. Even if we can take for granted that this doctrine was never formally adopted by the church, does it not qualify as a belief always held? That is one of the criteria needed for a dogmatic pronouncement, is it not?


I see no reason to. Both forums have a unique focus, this would not be the first time multiple threads covered a news item from different perspectives.

Sometimes it just makes sense to have different threads going. :slight_smile:


What is jettison limbo?


Hello Sufi!

Limbo is apparently a popular myth. It is a spiritual state (or non-state) where someone might be relegated if he or she is not prepared to be in the presence of God Almighty after death, but has actually done no conscious sinful or evil thing. Some people have thought of it as the forecourt of heaven, not actually in heaven but not connected with suffering punishment in any way. It is considered that being denied a vision of God is already a great burden for eternity.

To jettison is to cast off, or throw away.

The theory of Limbo was apparently never formally proclaimed a Christian doctrine, but became a common idea anyway. The Pope is considering making a formal announcement that it is not doctrine and has never been doctrine.

Presumably this will clarify any misunderstandings in the public mind on the subject, but it comes as a surprise to a number of people.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit