The Limbo Status Is Incorrect
*** Scroll down for updates ***
ORIGINAL POST - Dec. 01, 2005
It's always bothered me when people would say children who die unbaptized aren't allowed into Heaven. Jesus himself told us that if we don't become like children, we won't see God's Kingdom. So, how could anyone deny them Heaven?
But here's some good news:
THE Catholic Church is preparing to abandon the idea of limbo, the theological belief that children who die before being baptised are suspended in a space between heaven and hell.
The idea of limbo was developed as a response to the harshness of early Church teachings which insisted that any child who died before he or she was baptised would still be stained by Original Sin and so would be condemned to hell.
However, an international commission of Catholic theologians, meeting in the Vatican this week, has been pondering the issue and is expected to advise Pope Benedict XVI to announce officially that the theological concept of limbo is incorrect.
Instead, the new belief is expected to be that unbaptised babies will go directly to heaven.
Pope Benedict had already expressed his doubts about limbo when, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he was head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Church's doctrinal watchdog.
In an interview in 1984, he said: "Limbo has never been a defined truth of faith. Personally, speaking as a theologian and not as head of the Congregation, I would drop something that has always been only a theological hypothesis."
John Haldane, a professor of philosophy at St Andrews University in Scotland was quoted in the report:
"The idea of limbo conjures up the image of God as some kind of government bureaucrat who says to people, not just babies, 'Sorry, you don't have your passport stamped with baptism, you'll have to wait over there'.
"Instead, God's powers are such that He can overcome the issue of Original Sin as He chooses, according to special circumstances."
If children and babies have no place in Heaven, then none of us do.
UPDATE Dec. 2, 2005
In Year of The Family, late Pope John Paul II wrote in his letter to the children:
In Children there is something that must never be missing in people who want to enter the kingdom of heaven. People who are destined to go to heaven are simple like children, and like children are full of trust, rich in goodness and pure. Only people of this sort can find in God a Father and thanks to Jesus, can become in their own turn children of God.
Source: Pope John Paul II: In My Own Words
I guess this sum it all.
UPDATE Apr. 22, 2007
It's official, the Catholic church has abolished the limbo status:
A Vatican committee that spent years examining the medieval concept published a much-anticipated report Friday, concluding that unbaptized babies who die may go to heaven.
The Vatican's International Theological Commission issued its findings — with the approval of Pope Benedict XVI — in a document published by the Catholic News Service, the news agency of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The commission is advisory, but the pope's endorsement of the document appears to indicate his acceptance of its findings.
Limbo, the commission said, "reflects an unduly restrictive view of salvation."
"Our conclusion," the panel said in its 41-page report, is that there are "serious theological and liturgical grounds for hope that unbaptized infants who die will be saved and brought into eternal happiness." The committee added that although this is not "sure knowledge," it comes in the context of a loving and just God who "wants all human beings to be saved."
This conclusion should have been reached hundreds of years ago. Oh well, better late than never.
In My Own Words