Will Limbo Doctrine Be “Altered or Eliminated” Soon?


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2 comments on “Will Limbo Doctrine Be “Altered or Eliminated” Soon?

  1. Limbo to be Cast into the Outer Darkness?

    by John Vennari

    On November 30 the world’s press announced that the Vatican seems poised to abolish Limbo.1 A thirty-member theological Commission, under the auspices of Archbishop William Levada, newly-appointed Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is now studying the matter.

    Word in knowledgeable circles holds that the ancient Catholic doctrine of Limbo will be substantially altered or abandoned altogether. At least that is what will be attempted, since no one, not even the highest Church authority, has the power to change or discard objective religious truth.

    , Pope Pius VI condemned the rejection of Limbo as “false, rash, scandalous to Catholic Schools”.Auctorum fideiIn his papal constitution

    The reports from both the secular and religious press have been permeated with falsehoods, half-truths and omissions regarding the Catholic belief of Limbo, as well as with pathetic statements from progressivists. Yet the event itself is about more than Limbo. It is another indication of the triumph of liberal Catholicism in the highest echelons of today’s Church, a liberal Catholicism that every concerned Catholic must resist.

    “More than just a theory”

    The traditional Catholic doctrine of Limbo is in a higher category than that of a dismissible theological hypothesis. It is part of Catholic teaching since ancient times and is enshrined in magisterial pronouncements.

    Pope Pius VI’s famous Apostolic Constitution Auctorem fidei, which condemned the Errors of the Synod of Pistoia, denounced the rejection of Limbo as “false, rash, slanderous to Catholic schools.”2

    The theologian Father Joseph Le Blanc, in his 1947 article “Children’s Limbo, Theory or Doctrine?”, summarized two central points taught in this Papal constitution:

    “(1) There exists a Children’s Limbo, where the souls of children dying with original sin are detained; (2) the doctrine of Limbo as commonly accepted by the faithful, and taught by the schoolmen, is not a Pelagian fable, but an orthodox teaching.”3

    It is de fide — an unchangeable article of Faith — that souls who depart this life in the state of original sin are excluded from the Beatific vision.4 The Second Council of Lyons (1274) and the Council of Florence (1438-45) taught infallibly:

    “The souls of those who die in original sin as well as those who die in actual mortal sin go immediately into hell, but their punishment is very different.”5

    The teaching of Limbo flows logically from this infallible truth. Unbaptized babies, as cute as they are, possess souls stained by original sin, the sin inherited from Adam. Since “nothing defiled can enter Heaven” (Apoc. 21:27), these innocent souls who die before baptism, deprived of sanctifying grace, cannot gain Paradise. Now the good God, being just, will only punish a soul for sins he has personally committed. Since the unbaptized baby is guilty of no personal sin, he will not suffer pain of punishment. Rather, his soul will go to Limbo (which theologians hold is the outer circle of hell6), an eternal place of natural happiness in which he is deprived of the Beatific Vision…

    [ To continue reading, click on … www.fatima.org/news/newsviews/limbo.asp ]

  2. The “theory” of limbo as a non-dogmatic hypothesis and opinion was already subjected to theological clarification:
    “It is clear that the traditional teaching on this topic has concentrated on the theory of limbo, understood as a state which includes the souls of infants who die subject to original sin and without baptism, and who, therefore, neither merit the beatific vision, nor yet are subjected to any punishment, because they are not guilty of any personal sin. This theory, elaborated by theologians beginning in the Middle Ages, never entered into the dogmatic definitions of the Magisterium, even if that same Magisterium did at times mention the theory in its ordinary teaching up until the Second Vatican Council. It remains therefore a possible theological hypothesis. However, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992), the theory of limbo is not mentioned. Rather, the Catechism teaches that infants who die without baptism are entrusted by the Church to the mercy of God, as is shown in the specific funeral rite for such children. The principle that God desires the salvation of all people gives rise to the hope that there is a path to salvation for infants who die without baptism (cf. CCC, 1261), and therefore also to the theological desire to find a coherent and logical connection between the diverse affirmations of the Catholic faith: the universal salvific will of God; the unicity of the mediation of Christ; the necessity of baptism for salvation; the universal action of grace in relation to the sacraments; the link between original sin and the deprivation of the beatific vision; the creation of man “in Christ”.

    The conclusion of this study is that there are theological and liturgical reasons to hope that infants who die without baptism may be saved and brought into eternal happiness, even if there is not an explicit teaching on this question found in Revelation.”
    The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die without Being Baptised, ITC, April 22, 2007.

    It was never a dogma or infallible teaching. A theory or hypothesis in theology arrived at by deductive reasoning by theologians or even bishops is not necessarily a revealed truth of divine revelation that carries ontological certitude (e.g., in the same way as the divinity or Resurrection of Christ). The theory of limbo involves a few unstated conclusions regarding limitations on the power and mercy of God which cannot be held as certain: that God in His mercy and love would not act directly for the salvation of infants deprived of the waters of Baptism through no fault of their own. That does not fit with what we know about the mercy, love, and forgiveness of God. It remains a mystery what happens to such souls. If God were not all-merciful, one could lean toward the strict constructionist Jansenism on this, but He is. Not everything in theology is 100% clear.

    To rule out extraordinary means of grace or extraordinary mercy by God directly in such cases is a far from certain conclusion. Between the mercy of God and Baptism of Desire there is wide room for speculative deduction. It is not up to any human being to decide the fate of infants who die without being baptized. Why would one conclude that the prayers of the child’s parents would not be answered by a loving and merciful God? And make of God a merciless and pharisaical Jansenist? Does any Christian really believe that Guardian Angels do not intercede for souls right before they die? Or that God would refuse such prayers? How does anyone know for certain (with ontological certitude) that Christ himself does not baptize such children directly with his own hands? There would be no way to know that for certain about something like the mercy of God which extends beyond the powers of human reason. It is not a revealed truth of divine revelation that Christ does not extend such mercy.

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