Further to our discussion last Sunday, Peter found the interesting articles below.
ROME - 23 April 2007 - 200 words
Vatican issues report on 'limbo'
The theological hypothesis of 'limbo' appears to have been based on an "unduly restrictive view of salvation," according to a report published on Friday by the International Theological Commission.
The 41-page document says the issue presents an "urgent pastoral problem" because of the large number of unbaptized babies who die through abortion. It concludes that there are serious theological and liturgical grounds for the hope that such babies are saved and enjoy the beatific vision.
The commission's documents are not considered official expressions of the magisterium. But they do help the Holy See examine important doctrinal issues.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church in No. 1261 explains: '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 toward children which 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.'
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The End of Limbo What happens to all the babies who used to be there?
By Michelle Tsai
Posted Monday, April 23, 2007, at 6:59 PM ET
The Vatican announced on Friday the results of a papal investigation of the concept of limbo. Church doctrine now states that unbaptized babies can go to Heaven instead of getting stuck somewhere between heaven and hell. If limbo doesn't exist, what happened to everyone who was supposed to have been there already?
They've probably been in heaven all this time, but no one knows for sure. Until the recent announcement, the limbo crowd was thought to include anyone who hadn't been baptized but would otherwise deserve to go to heaven—like infants (including aborted fetuses), virtuous pagans, and pre-Christian Jews. Those who had been baptized, on the other hand, either joined God in heaven, made up for their sins in purgatory, or suffered forever in hell.
If limbo never existed in the first place, you might assume that these souls passed straight through St. Peter's gates. But the carefully worded document from the Vatican's International Theological Commission stops short of certainty in this regard, arguing only that there are "serious theological and liturgical grounds for hope," rather than "sure knowledge."
The fate of unbaptized babies has confounded Catholic scholars for centuries. According to church catechisms , or teachings, babies that haven't been splashed with holy water bear the original sin, which makes them ineligible for joining God in heaven. At the same time, as innocent beings, they surely don't deserve eternal torment. St. Augustine concluded in the fourth century that the babies must be punished in the fire of hell, but only with the " mildest condemnation ." Eight centuries later, Thomas Aquinas thought infant souls wouldn't go to heaven, but they wouldn't suffer in the afterlife, either (and they wouldn't even know what they were missing