Limbos suppressed on account of “unduly restrictive vision of salvation”

Source: FSSPX News


A 41-page document entitled The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptized, written by the International Theological Commission, and approved for publication on January 19, says that infants who die without baptism are destined for paradise, thus obliterating limbo which they called a “theological hypothesis”. Limbo, designating the place where unbaptized children would live for eternity without enjoying the beatific vision, is considered by the papal Theological Commission as reflecting “a too restrictive vision of salvation.” On the contrary, states the document, God is merciful and “wills all men to be saved.”

This text was published on April 20 by the American review Origins, and large excerpts were also given by the American bishops’ press agency, Catholic News Service (CNS), while the integral text in Italian, which is to be published in the bimonthly of the Society of Jesus, Civiltà Cattolica, is expected for May 5.

The International Theological Commission began to look into the question of limbo in 1994. At the time, the Commission was headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who had already expressed his personal opinion in 1984, saying that he would “drop what had always been but a theological hypothesis”. The documents from the Commission do not belong to the Magisterium, but they are meant to help the Holy See in its reflections on important theological issues, on which the pope may make a pronouncement later on, if he so wishes.

The document of April 19 takes up and develops what was stated in n° 1261 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church of 1992: “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.”

The members of the International Theological Commission, now presided over by Cardinal Levada, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, state: “Our conclusion is that the many factors that we have considered above give serious theological and liturgical grounds for hope that unbaptized infants who die will be saved and enjoy the beatific vision.” “We emphasize that these are reasons for prayerful hope, rather than grounds for sure knowledge,” they add that: “It must be clearly acknowledged that the Church does not have sure knowledge about the salvation of unbaptized infants who die.” Yet there are “grounds for hope that God will save infants when we have not been able to do for them what we would have wished to do, namely, to baptize them into the faith and life of the Church.”

It also adds that “infants, for their part, do not place any personal obstacle in the way of redemptive grace” “God can therefore give the grace of baptism without the sacrament being conferred, and this fact should particularly be recalled when the conferring of baptism would be impossible.” The magisterium of the Church has “articulated a more nuanced understanding as to the manner in which a saving relationship with the Church can be realized,” write the members of the Commission, without necessarily renouncing the idea that all salvation is accomplished through Christ and His Church: “there is no salvation which is not from Christ and ecclesial by its very nature.”

The International Theological Commission has deemed that the question had become an urgent pastoral need as the number of non-baptized infants has grown considerably in post-modern society, and many are victims of abortion.

On April 24, the religious chronicler for Le Monde, Henri Tincq, did not beat about the bush in expressing the satisfaction of progressive Catholics: “What were we to do with such a heavy heritage, defended from the Middle Ages up until the 20th century by a manipulating Church, which was only too happy to threaten limbo in order to incite parents to have their children baptize in haste? On this point, the theological reflection has, at long last, moved from intransigency to mercy.” – This passage from “dogmatic intransigency to mercy,” is actually the rejection of limbo, summarily called “a theological hypothesis”, and its replacement by a “prayerful hope” without “grounds for sure knowledge”.

It is now up to the International Theological Commission to explain to the faithful why the following practical conclusions must not be drawn from its document:

- Parents can indefinitely delay the date of their children’s baptism. In case of sudden death, the infant is assured to receive the grace of baptism without the sacrament being conferred.

- Infants who are victims of an abortion will go straight to heaven and their parents do not have to worry about the eternal salvation of these innocents.