What happens to an un-baptized child who dies?

A friend of mine, years ago, gave birth to a stillborn child. She was later told by a Catholic that it was a shame that the child did not live long enough to be baptised because the child could not go to heaven. Everytime I hear something strange like this, I research it and find that the position of the Church makes a tremendous amount of sense. I am assuming that the Catholic was mistaken. I cannot find the answer to this question in the Catechism. Can someone tell me what the Church teaches on this subject?

Thanks and God Bless You All, Tim

Dear Tim,

This is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says on the Subject:

#1261 “As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus’ tenderness toweard children whcih caused him to say: ‘Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,’ allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church’s call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.”

I might add, that the Holy Innocents who died in the place of the Christ child and whom the Church celebrates as saints in heaven–were not baptized.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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