Young Children, Aborted Babies, and Salvation

I’m very sorry for your loss! :console:

I get testy over this subject because I’ve been told by numerous Catholics that she is not in heaven. A handful have actually told me she is in hell! :mad:

Thank you for your kind and hopeful post! :slight_smile:

Obviously there are pretenders who think they know their stuff. In this sort of things, a little knowledge is dangerous. It is better to admit ignorance than speak beyond their level of expertise.

I didn’t get around to name them, but I wonder from time to time where they are. Will they recognise me when I get to see them. Will they know me? So many questions with no answers. But I am at peace because I trust my Lord to take care of them. When I got married I swore to God I will bring my children up as Catholics. I believe parent consent and acting on behalf does count towards intent. As with infant baptism.

Drats! I get all emotional each time I think of them. Where’s my hanky…

It is an open question. However, certain magisterial teachings, considered together, seem to imply that they must be saved, especially in the case of the prenatal who dies in the womb (no opportunity for water baptism).

God wills all persons to be saved:

Cardinal Ratzinger: “It must therefore be firmly believed as a truth of Catholic faith that the universal salvific will of the One and Triune God is offered and accomplished once for all in the mystery of the incarnation, death, and resurrection of the Son of God.” [Dominus Jesus, n. 13-14]

Pope Saint John Paul II: “The universality of salvation means that it is granted not only to those who explicitly believe in Christ and have entered the Church. Since salvation is offered to all, it must be made concretely available to all.” [Redemptoris Missio, n. 10]

Therefore, salvation must be concretely available even to prenatals who die in the womb. The saying that they would have been saved, if they had been born and been baptized, is not concrete availability. The idea that these little souls go to limbo is not salvation. The Church teaches that salvation in Christ is fulfilled in Heaven.

Pope Benedict XVI: “Human beings cannot completely fulfill themselves, they cannot be truly happy without God.” [Homily, Sunday, 24 May 2009]

Pope John Paul II: “Without God, man cannot fully find himself, nor can he find his true happiness.” [Homily, 9 November 1999]

Only persons who commit a mortal sin can possibly be condemned to Hell:

“God predestines no one to go to hell; for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end.” [CCC 1037]

“Because God knows, searches and clearly understands the minds, hearts, thoughts, and nature of all, his supreme kindness and clemency do not permit anyone at all who is not guilty of deliberate sin to suffer eternal punishments.” [Quanto Conficiamur Moerore, n. 7.]

The above quotes seem to contradict the teaching that persons who die in a state of “original sin alone” are sent to Hell. But the conflict can be resolved: a person commits a mortal sin of omission if they fail to find sanctifying grace, by some form of baptism in their life despite ample opportunity. Only someone who has ample opportunity for some form of baptism can possibly die in a culpable state of original sin alone. Prenatals, infants, and little children do not have ample opportunity.

In summary, the Church teaches that:

  • God offers salvation to all human persons.
  • This salvation is concretely available to all.
  • Only persons who commit deliberate personal sin, specifically actual mortal sin, and who die unrepentant are punished in Hell.
  • No human person can be happy without grace and without God.
  • Prenatals and infants cannot commit any sin deserving of Hell.

Therefore, prenatals who die in the womb, for whom formal baptism with water is unavailable, must receive some type of non-formal baptism (of desire or blood) prior to death. Otherwise, the salvific will of God would not be universal, since it would exclude many billions of human persons.

What does the church teach? AFAIK The most recent publication of the Church on Limbo was released in 2004.

It includes the paragraph

  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:

*the creation of the human being in Christ and his vocation to communion with God;

the universal salvific will of God;

the transmission and the consequences of original sin;

the necessity of grace in order to enter into the Kingdom of God and attain the vision of God;

the uniqueness and universality of the saving mediation of Christ Jesus;

and the necessity of Baptism for salvation*.

These other ways are not achieved by modifying the principles of the faith, or by elaborating hypothetical theories; rather, they seek an integration and coherent reconciliation of the principles of the faith under the guidance of the ecclesial magisterium, by giving more weight to God’s universal salvific will and to solidarity in Christ (cf. GS 22) in order to account for the hope that infants dying without Baptism could enjoy eternal life in the beatific vision. In keeping with a methodological principle that what is less known must be investigated by way of what is better known, it appears that the point of departure for considering the destiny of these children should be the salvific will of God, the mediation of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit, and a consideration of the condition of children who receive Baptism and are saved through the action of the Church in the name of Christ. The destiny of unbaptised infants remains, however, a limit-case as regards theological inquiry: theologians should keep in mind the apophatic perspective of the Greek Fathers.

The church is open to any theory on the disposition of the souls of unbaptized infants, but we cannot answer a question without God’s revelation. We can only speculate.

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