What is Catholic position on what happens to soul of unbaptized infant who dies?


Just curious what the position of Catholic Church is on the spiritual fate of an infant who dies unexpectedly before he or she could be baptized. Is there hope for the soul of such a child?. Thanks.


They are entrusted by the Church to the mercy of God.


Thank you very much, Mtatum1958.


From the Catechism:

Not what the Church teaches.

No. Limbo is not doctrine. It’s not that it’s “antiquated”; it’s that it’s not a magisterial teaching. None of your magisterial pronouncements teach ‘limbo’.


After a person leaves this mortal life they are immediately judged. The ones who accept God’s mercy enter the Beatific Vision (possibly through purgatory) and the ones who don’t are eternally damned through their own self-exclusion.


Unless the Church definitively teaches that Limbo is the destination of the souls of the unborn, it is more difficult to make the case that abortion is evil. Because if everyone thinks that aborted babies just directly go to heaven, then many will see abortion as a mercy rather than a sin. After all, those babies would avoid a life of hardship, suffering, possible eternal damnation, etc. and go straight to heaven. Basically, the Church seems afraid that Limbo will sound too mean and unfair to pronounce as a doctrine, and instead puts forth vague language such as “entrusted to the mercy of God” which implicitly reads like they go to heaven.


It would seem kind of harsh to me for the unbaptized infant to not be allowed heaven, especially if the parents had every intention to baptize the infant in the near future when the baby suddenly dies in the night of SIDS or some other cause before getting baptized. Would “baptism of desire” possibly come into play in such a case, if the parents had already scheduled a baptism date in the near future when the death of the infant occurred? Mainly just curious. By the way, I am Methodist and am not familiar with the term “limbo”. Is that similar to purgatory or is it a different state altogether? Thanks for taking the time to explain this to me. I appreciate it.


Limbo, as taught by the Church Fathers, is a region in hell in which the infants do not suffer in the same manner as those who condemned themselves due to their own personal mortal sins. This is because infants, not yet having attained the use of reason, cannot commit any personal sin. Thus, they live in a state of natural happiness in Limbo where they are deprived of the Beatific Vision, but do not feel that suffering because they do not know what they’re missing.


Thanks for the clarification, Spes_nostra


If the teaching had been consistent, universal, and throughout all times. It wasn’t.

No. The document @Mtatum1958 cited discusses this.

And, as taught by other Church Fathers, is a region in heaven. In other words, there’s no single consistent teaching on the matter. It just isn’t doctrine, plain and simple.


Re-read those quotes from the popes and the councils. They very clearly and definitively teach that those who die in a state of original sin only do go to hell, but to a different location in hell where they do not suffer the same pains as those who die in a state of mortal sin. As for your assertion that different Fathers held different opinions, quite clearly, the Church has already taken into consideration all of these views, and canonized the doctrine which was correct.


By that same logic, wouldn’t it be mercy to kill someone who has just been Baptised or who has just been to Confession?

The reason abortion is wrong is because it is murder. Murder is always wrong no matter how innocent or sinful the victim is.


From The Hope of Salvation for Infants who Die without being Baptized


How incredibly heartbreaking for all the parents who mourn the loss of the miscarried or stillborn child whom they never were given a chance to have baptized. They will never see that child again, if they, the parents make it to Heaven, since apparently their miscarried or stillborn child is doomed to Hell for all eternity because they died before birth.


Some teachings of the Church are difficult to accept, but the parents can take comfort in the fact that the child lives in a state of natural happiness where he does not suffer the same pains as those who died in mortal sin.


…unless God allows it. After all, He’s not constrained by the sacraments.

Except that the report authorized by Pope Benedict XVI, and accepted by him, says that while it’s possible to hold to the idea of Limbo, it’s not required.


Difficult? You bet it is!! There is NO comfort in knowing a child that died before birth and could NOT be baptized will NEVER be known to their earthly parents! That doesn’t sound like any kind of merciful God the CCC tells us about. What hope is there in that? Tell me, how do you think those of us who have lost a child, to NO fault of our own, feel reading what you have posted? Is this really what the Church teaches? To hell with the miscarried or stillborn? Is it??? I have dealt with all sorts of trauma in my life and have held fast to the teachings of the Church, but right now, this is making me question it all. This is not the God I grew up believing in, not the Church I grew up believing in, but you’ve managed to pull all of this out in the open and now I have no hope of ever seeing my beloved lost and very much wanted babies that died before birth. I wish the priests that I had spoke with told me this. I guess I’ve been lied to all these years.


I know He isn’t. That’s why there’s baptism of blood and desire, which do not apply to unbaptized infants who cannot make a choice for themselves.

Funny how everyone these days enjoy emphasizing just how binding ecumenical councils are…



I am truly sorry to hear of your loss and all the trauma you have been through. I do encourage you, however, to continue to hold fast to the teachings of the Church. On the Last Day, God will reveal to all His justice and mercy, and whatever does not make sense to us right now shall be disclosed and perfectly understood. Rest assured that you and your family are in my prayers.

In Christ,


Funny how everyone these days thinks they know better than Benedict XVI…

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