Friday, July 10, 2020

The Roman Catholic Church On Limbo

        The Roman Catholic Church teaches that a person must be baptized in order to attain salvation. One question of debate amongst Catholic bishops and theologians during the Middle Ages was the fate of unbaptized babies. Limbo was a development put forward to answer this question, and is defined by the Encyclopedia Britannica as follows:

        "Limbo, in Roman Catholic theology, the border place between heaven and hell where dwell those souls who, though not condemned to punishment, are deprived of the joy of eternal existence with God in heaven. The word is of Teutonic origin, meaning “border” or “anything joined on.”

        While Rome never pronounced the idea an infallible dogma, it was approved and taught by the vast majority in positions of leadership. The Baltimore Catechism says the following:

        "Limbo: The place where unbaptized infants go.” (The New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism (No. 2), 1991 edition, p. 248., Imprimatur issued by Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York)

        Limbo is no longer taught by the Roman Catholic Church due to the influence of religious ecumenicalism. This concept was faded out as popes such as Pope Benedict XVI cast doubt on its veracity. The Encyclopedia Britannica provides details concerning the history of limbo:

        "The Roman Catholic Church in the 13th and 15th centuries made several authoritative declarations on the subject of limbo, stating that the souls of those who die in original sin only (i.e., unbaptized infants) descend into hell but are given lighter punishments than those souls guilty of actual sin. The damnation of infants and also the comparative lightness of their punishment thus became articles of faith, but the details of the place such souls occupy in hell or the nature of their actual punishment remained undetermined. From the Council of Trent (1545–63) onward, there were considerable differences of opinion as to the extent of the infant souls’ deprivation, with some theologians maintaining that the infants in limbo are affected with some degree of sadness because of a felt privation and other theologians holding that the infants enjoy every kind of natural felicity, as regards their souls now and their bodies after the resurrection."

        It is worth considering for a moment the dreadful implications of this concept. All are separated from God because of original sin. By logical deduction, the aborted and stillborns would be excluded from the kingdom of heaven because they had no opportunity to receive baptism. Unbaptized babies could not even receive burial in Roman Catholic cemeteries and were given no religious rites. Former Catholic priest Peter de Rosa details a number of the technicalities which came about as a result of belief in limbo:

        "Small children were once warned of what to do if they came across a dying baby and no priest was present. They had to pour water over the little one's head while saying the baptismal words. If words and pouring were not simultaneous, the poor wee thing would go not to heaven, only to Limbo. Doctors and nurses attending women in childbirth were told to baptise a baby in the womb if it was likely to die before birth, using a syringe. A devout Catholic couple told me of their terror at the thought of their baby being run down by a car on the way to church for baptism. They'd never see him again in this life or the next. Limbo was always a problem in the developing world when most babies died unbaptised. Rome simply said they could not be saved. The situation worsened when geneticists found that perhaps three quarters of embryos are aborted without the woman knowing it. This meant, according to the Vatican, that most humans have to be snatched out of the drain by their guardian angels and transported to Limbo."

        Jesus Christ would no doubt express derision at the burdens placed on the backs of people who follow the Roman Catholic hierarchy (Matthew 23:4-5). He implicitly affirmed that the kingdom of God does belong to children (Matthew 18:3; 19:14-15). Consider also the mourning of King David when the Lord took away his newborn child as discipline for acts of adultery and murder (2 Samuel 12:22-23) The text of 2 Samuel affirms that both the baby and David went to the same place at the moment of physical death. He did go to heaven (Hebrews 11:32-33).

        Since Rome no longer teaches the concept of limbo, that means priests and bishops have upheld a misguided notion for 1,500 years. How then can we trust them on other matters? Moreover, it is worth noting that the Magisterium has never pronounced an "infallible" ruling on this topic. Limbo was invented to solve a problem that Roman Catholicism itself created. The Catechism of the Catholic Church has the following to say regarding babies and the afterlife:

        "…allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism…” (CCC # 1261)

1 comment:

  1. Jesse,

    That's really sad that these poor Catholics are in bondage to Catholic baptism for these little souls. How depressing! According to "Limbo theology," there is little hope for babies, especially those millions who have been aborted!

    Great work on this article, Jesse. I have written articles on Purgatory, but never really did anything on Limbo. Thanks for your diligence!