Rorate Caeli

Cloud of Witnesses v. "Great Cosmic Mystery"

Professor Robert T. Miller presents what we believe is the best web-review so far of the ... indescribable document of the International Theological Commission (ITC) on the fate of unbaptized children. Some excerpts:

The ITC has now issued its document. (...) For all its faults, however, the document gets right the essential point: “Our conclusion is that [there are] . . . grounds for hope that unbaptized infants will be saved and enjoy the beatific vision” (no. 102), but “the church does not have sure knowledge about the salvation of unbaptized infants” because “the destiny of . . . infants who die without baptism has not been revealed to us, and the church teaches and judges only with regard to what has been revealed” (no. 79). In other words, after 42 pages, 135 footnotes, and more than 22,000 words, the ITC has said no more than what the Catechism had said back in 1994: (...).

In fact, the ITC even seems to back off slightly from the position taken in the Catechism, for the ITC expressly notes that the traditional teaching on limbo “remains a possible theological opinion” (no. 41). And no wonder, for in the section of the document treating the history of the question, the ITC assembles quite an array of authorities tending in various ways to oppose the view that unbaptized infants are saved. The list includes Pseudo-Athanasius, Anastasius of Sinai, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory Nazianzus, Augustine, Jerome, Fulgentius, Avitus of Vienne, Gregory the Great, Anselm of Canterbury, Hugh of St. Victor, Peter Abelard, Peter Lombard, Innocent III, Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, Robert Bellarmine, Paul III, Benedict XIV, Clement XIII, Pius VI, and Pius XII.

Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, what arguments does the ITC adduce to explain why it hopes that unbaptized infants be saved? After “provid[ing] a new context” by referring to the wars of the twentieth century, the modern temptation to despair, the improvement of global communications and travel, and the fact that we all feel bad when we see children suffer (none of which, of course, is in the least relevant), and after quoting and requoting (sometimes three and four times) the same passages from Scripture—passages that the ITC had already conceded don’t settle the issue (no. 9)—the argument comes down to this: God’s universal salvific will, plus the fact that Christ entered into solidarity with all humanity in a “great cosmic mystery of communion” (no. 92), give us “grounds for hope that unbaptized infants . . . will be saved” (no. 102). Given all the doctors, theologians, and popes on the other side of the question, one might think of this argument as being the triumph of hope over expertise.

Even calling it an argument, however, is generous. It amounts to nothing more than saying, “There seems to be a tension between . . . the universal salvific will of God on the one hand and the necessity of sacramental baptism on the other,” because the latter “seems to limit the extension of God’s universal salvific will” (no. 10).

The answer to this, of course, is obvious and well-known in sacred tradition. Although God wants all men to be saved, nevertheless some men are damned to hell (a fact the ITC acknowledges by quoting from the Synod of Quercy), and if God’s universal salvific will is compatible with some men being damned to hell, then there’s no problem at all with it being compatible with some unbaptized infants enjoying a natural but not a supernatural happiness in limbo.


Miller praises the honesty of the Commission in reaching its "conclusions" - but that was the least one could expect. We disagree with him on this point, and we would add that Vatican officials were irresponsible in allowing the typical dishonest Conciliar and post-Conciliar tactics of news-distortion which allowed the world (and most Catholics around the world who heard of the document, but who will never read it) to believe that "Limbo has been abolished".

Cardinal Levada should be the one explaining to the world what Miller so aptly does in a few paragraphs. The public release of the ITC document as well as its general perception as the document which "abolished Limbo" were a new triumph of the hermeneutics of rupture and discontinuity.

Read the whole piece at First Things. There is not much else to be said, unless one wishes to be just as repetitive and pointless as the document itself.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

I would highly reccommend the following articles from Jacob Michael of Lumen Gentlemen on this issue:

(Part 1)
http://www.lumengentleman.com/content.asp?id=334

(Part 2)
http://www.lumengentleman.com/content.asp?id=338

schoolman

Jordan Potter said...

Yeah, that ITC document does seem pretty pointless at best -- at worst, sure to spread confusion. If they weren't going to reaffirm the traditional belief in Limbo, I think they would have done best to leave well enough alone.

Lymington said...

How does an infant achieve Baptism of Water? By the consent of its Godparent.
Could not an infant achieve Baptism of Desire by the (implied) Desire of its parents when they administered the Sacrament of Marriage to each other?

Anonymous said...

In their defense, the ITC was merely doing its job. The Holy Father asked them to look into limbo.
They merely responded by saying, "There really isn't too much to look into!"
It's the media that's to blame for the misinformation, primarily.

Matt said...

We don't know how unbaptised infants could meet the requirements of baptism. Just like we don't know how baptism of desire in adults works, or in which occasions it might occur. These are mysteries that we will only know in heaven. Hope and pray for all to be saved, and very importantly do all that we can to assist the Holy Spirit in leading all to the faith, and for goodness sake see to it that you do what you can to make sure all babies are baptised. That's the point isn't it?

God Bless,

Matt

Anonymous said...

No Matt, the point of the article is the further obfuscation of traditional Catholic theology -- i.e. anything pre-conciliar must be open to "review" -- and for the love of God, "a great cosmic communion"??? Teilhard all the way.

Anonymous said...

As one who lost a child before it was born (because God took it, not man) I do agree that this a mystery. I believe that soul is in limbo, as are all children conceived and not born. Otherwise, abortion becomes preferable to birth. But, we shouldn't grieve for such souls, because they are receiving the measure of happiness assigned to them, just as all the souls in heaven are not assigned the same. Each measure is perfect unto itself, except for the souls of the damned. Catholic teaching never has, and never will, say that the souls of the unbaptized infant is anything less than perfectly happy in the state he or she has been assigned, in Limbo.

However, there must be a reason why Christ instituted the sacraments. I believe ITC is just another step towards modernism and syncretism. The logical conclusion of that snow-ball rolling down the hill into an avalanche is universal salvation. God is all of a sudden a great Teddy Bear in the Sky; and all who yearn for Him, however deep their innermost hidden desires may be, are saved. Well, that flies in the face of 2,000 of Catholic tradition and the adamant necessity of free-will.

alsaticus said...

"Cardinal Levada should be the one explaining to the world what Miller so aptly does in a few paragraphs. The public release of the ITC document as well as its general perception as the document which "abolished Limbo" were a new triumph of the hermeneutics of rupture and discontinuity."

"Cardinal Levada" then "should be" ... with these 2 expressions, you have the whole key of this new mess.
A new mess because in the same time cardinal Arinze is supposed to fight to implement "pro multis" right translation.
But the Levada endorsement of ITC de facto abolition of limbo is the consequence of 40 years of "for all" in liturgy and theology. Of 40 years of triumph of "hermeneutics of rupture and discontinuity" in every Catholic university and seminary, with very few exceptions.

Who has been appointing Mgr Levada prefect of CDF and cardinal ?
Certainly the most possible wrong man at the wrong place.
It's one thing to pay lip service to hermeneutics of continuity (and reform) and another one to make it real with proper bishops, Curian officials and cardinals.

Simon-Peter Vickers-Buckley said...

I wonder why He created persons who He knew through no fault of their own would be deprived of the greatest good? I guess the sins of the parents really are attached to the offspring in a beatific-denying way.

He created them for Himself and excluded them (through no fault of their own) in the same instant. That's just.

Unless of course they aren't real persons, i.e. they don't have free will, or, so having, are the only humans *ever* created that are prevented from using same to say aye or nay, or, in some mysterious way, making a choice for Him, and refused?

Perhaps they are in some way, given a choice for limbo or hell.

This only applies to persons (not born, or dying not baptized through no fault of their own before the age of reason) *after* bapitsm was instituted? LOL.

So that's okay then.

I'm convinced.

There is a practical, obvious, prudential reason why we don't know the answer for sure...think about it.

Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Very comprehensive explanation!

God bless

Simon-Peter Vickers-Buckley said...

Sorry about the tone of my last post.

I'll try to be clearer, and make it clear I am not trying to convince anyone, and make it clear I have no "personal-temporal-familial" bias.

I'll stick to the unborn aborted, except right at the end.

Either they are persons created by a Person (or Persons actually) or they are not. If they are persons, then, no matter how inchoate or nascent, they are created in His image, where image is defined as the ability to choose (likeness is the ability to choose the good, and the will to do it..."he gave power to *become* children of God...").

There are not three classes of humans: those who choose badly, those who choose well, and those who were denied a choice at all, unlike Satan, who was given the choice.

If God denies humans the choice for Him it is the functional equivalent of them not having free will, and they are not and never were human except in name only. HINO's.

It's heaven or hell, nowhere else.

At the insant the spirit is divorced from the body (or, if exceeding young, lets just say "matter") the spirit is raised to full maturity and, akin to the angels when they were given their choice (and even they weren't His children), each human will be given a choice, in full comprehension (unlike us here, which is another issue viz. merits and place in heaven) of the gravity of the situation and in an instant will make a choice, yes, or no. This does not mean some sort of universality, except in choice, image, free will, and in keeping with the mystery of iniquity, some of them might very well choose badly.

Tainted by original sin they are afforded a choice, in an instant, yes or no. They are brought to full maturity comphending all things necessary (and no more) for salvation. In an instant they are offered the "power" to "become" sons of God, or walk away into outer darkness.

This may not be true, but it is no more amazing than humans existing at all, Jesus deciding from all Eternity that He would be nailed to a Cross, the Immaculate Conception, The Incarnation, or Transubstantation.

This has nothing to do with emotivism, religious indifferentism, ecumania, or anything else. Jesus is JUST. The issue is HIM, HIM and no one else. Jesus does not nor has He ever settled for second best, and what is Limbo?

Perhaps many accept Limbo not really because x, y or z speak to it, but because in their heart of hearts they recognize that it is not just to condemn a human to hell without actual, personal fault. Yet there seems to be this rule excluding them from heaven...what to do? Not right for heaven, not wrong enough for hell.

On the other hand: no human who dies before reaching the age of reason and is innocent of personal sin is excluded, no person is cast away from Jesus unless they reject his passion, death and resurrection.

That is, all I am doing is tossing away the safety net of limbo and maintaining it is heaven or hell. I am not trying to excuse the bad behavior of humans of the age of reason and saying "keep on aborting...don't fret they all make it." First, because even if you buy all this, this raises issues of the degree of Beatific vision for these humans so it is not as though I am saying "no harm no foul"; second, even if you buy all this, the possibility does perhaps exist, that, stunningly, **many** of these humans raised in an instant will actually choose badly!

I totally accept any rebuke, correction, information, chastisement or anything else.

Anonymous said...

1) Even the un-born are persons created in the image of God.

2) Now traditional Catholic theology teaches that it is "certain" that God gives each (person) sufficent grace -- according to His Universal salvific will -- to save his soul.

3) Therefore, even un-born persons are given sufficient grace -- in a mysterious way known to God alone -- to save thier souls.

schoolman

Matt said...

Anonymous

No Matt, the point of the article is the further obfuscation of traditional Catholic theology -- i.e. anything pre-conciliar must be open to "review" -- and for the love of God, "a great cosmic communion"??? Teilhard all the way.


Sorry you misunderstood. The point of our work here is to santify ourselves and to aid the Holy Spirit in the salvation of all men , through our prayers and our actions (knowing full well that such will not be efficacious for all). peserving small t traditional Catholic theology is not an end in itself.


Otherwise, abortion becomes preferable to birth.


That's clearly an erroneous conclusion, because if it were true, baptism immediately followed by infanticide would be preferable to achieving the age of reason and opportunity for mortal sin.


Catholic teaching never has, and never will, say that the souls of the unbaptized infant is anything less than perfectly happy in the state he or she has been assigned, in Limbo.


This is true, so what? Catholic teaching never has definitively required the existence of Limbo in the first place.


simon-peters,

At the insant the spirit is divorced from the body (or, if exceeding young, lets just say "matter") the spirit is raised to full maturity and, akin to the angels when they were given their choice (and even they weren't His children), each human will be given a choice, in full comprehension (unlike us here, which is another issue viz. merits and place in heaven) of the gravity of the situation and in an instant will make a choice, yes, or no. This does not mean some sort of universality, except in choice, image, free will, and in keeping with the mystery of iniquity, some of them might very well choose badly.


I'm not sure what you say by "matter", are you suggesting that a human soul exists without a body? A body may have only one cell, but we still call it a body unless we're trying to de-humanize it (not saying you are, just asking for clarity).

Each human will be given a choice, in full comprehension? Can you provide some support for this belief? I don't see it in any of the teachings of the Church, although it is similar to a revelation of St. Faustina I believe (something about Christ knocking three times). It seems though that the theory ignores the fundamental truth that no soul is saved except by baptism or at least the implicit desire of it. It seems to suggest that perhaps, there is no need to have the Church or sacraments, just seek to do God's will, and then, once you're given all the facts you can decide if you want heaven or not?

God Bless,

Matt

NCTradCatholic said...

The formation of the African Union? Live Aid?? They've got to be kidding. This is a serious document?

Simon-Peter Vickers-Buckley said...

"Otherwise, abortion becomes preferable to birth.


That's clearly an erroneous conclusion, because if it were true, baptism immediately followed by infanticide would be preferable to achieving the age of reason and opportunity for mortal sin."

_________________

This is one reason this is hidden from us.

_________________

"I'm not sure what you say by "matter", are you suggesting that a human soul exists without a body? A body may have only one cell, but we still call it a body unless we're trying to de-humanize it (not saying you are, just asking for clarity)."

That is why I said "matter". Yes, even a cell has a body, a "cell body" I was just trying to differentiate between a body recognizable as such, i.e. with eyelashes, fingers, and a "body", a cell (or a few) that (still) has the soul infused. In other words, life begins at fertilization NOT conception and NOT when toes appear...that is what I meant.

_______________

"Each human will be given a choice, in full comprehension? Can you provide some support for this belief? I don't see it in any of the teachings of the Church,"

Nope, I cannot. This is my wild speculation based on readings from different sources totally unrelated to this issue: e.g. the attributes of God and His nature, free will, the human soul, the sacramental system, the fall of the angels and angelic comprehension, beatific vision...

____________

"It seems though that the theory ignores the fundamental truth that no soul is saved except by baptism or at least the implicit desire of it."

Like I said, my wild mind: but no, of course not. Picture this (always useful to see bodies in motion...that's why prots don't get Jesus saying to Peter, "And on this Rock..." because they can't see Him as a normal human in time and space looking around at those watching and bringing his hand down firmly on Peter's shoulder when He says "and on THIS rock..." but I digress.)

Aborted Human X, brought to full stature (33 years old same as Jesus) appears in an instant before Jesus. He kneels and confesses, "Thou art Jesus the Christ the Son of the Living God." Pause. Wait. Silence in heaven. Next, he says "Non serviam" and off he goes...not good.

Aborted Human Y, brought to full stature (33 years old, same as Jesus...same as us all in heaven) appears in an instant before Jesus. He kneels and confesses, "Thou art Jesus the Christ the Son of the Living God." Pause. Wait. Silence in heaven. Next, he says "Quis ut Deus?!" RIGHT THERE is your baptism of desire. Off he goes...good.

DESIRE properly understood is a movement of the will, it is in the WILL, this whole war is in the will.

Like I said, mad speculation.99% I am dead wrong, but so long as I am not horrifying Jesus directly or indirectly I can live with being wrong...

Jordan {Potter said...

"It's heaven or hell, nowhere else."

Correct -- and Limbo, properly and traditionally conceived, is the outermost "hem" of Hell (no torment of sense, but deprivation of the Beatific Vision). It's not a middle state or a third possible destination for the soul.

j hughes dunphy said...

Let me suggest the final word on this issue is St.Leonard of Port Maurice's fine sermon on "The Little Number Of Those Saved." Read it and realize how few, few are really saved in the end according to this incorrupt saint of the 1600's who wrote a splendid book on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and, also, wrote the remarkable most holy "Divine Praises" and vigorously taught: 'Salvation is a gift from God that very, very few take advantage of in this world, and he bases it all upon Church teachings, the Fathers, and Holy Scripture.'
God in his Divine Providence cannot be lessened in what the Church has taught on this subject and it is not with 'limbo'. We don't understand because it is another mystery, perhaps, of the faith until the Church defines absolutely. There are many, many out there living under the false umbrella of a mischievous ecumenism that wants all to be saved, no matter what God has said and revealed on this through Holy Scripture and the Catholic Church-- the one true and only path to heaven. Read St.Leonard of Port Maurice's sermon and you will see: it makes many a Catholic scrutinize most closely his own soul.

Besides, one abortion prevents a child from being Baptized and points to the utter horror of every abortion. A heinous crime that cries to heaven for vengeance. God from all eternity sees through His Divine Providence all of this and limbo just may be His Divine Mercy at work with souls who, if born, would have lost their souls anyhow.
God Bless Us Everyone!
j hughes dunphy
http://www.theorthodoxromancatholic.com

j hughes dunphy said...

Dear Rorate:
To all you great traditional and God fearing Catholics out there on the most appreciated Catholic website: You can find St. Leonard of Port Maurice's famous sermon on "The Little Number Of Those Saved" by just googleing in the title of the sermon. Remember, as he says, it is not for 'pious' souls. Read and pray for all of us sinners,
j hughes dunphy
http://www.theorthodoxromancatholic.com

Simon-Peter Vickers-Buckley said...

Yes read St. Leonard: Lays it on a little thick. Not the sacred magesterium though is he? Taking him at HIS word is likely to induce a. servile fear and b. despair. IMO.

Still...

Right Jordan: that would be tradition with a small 't'.

Anyway. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

Anonymous said...

The following from Tanquerey sheds some light on this question:

schoolman

-----------------------------------
In Regard to Children Dying without Baptism

This question centers about children who cannot be baptized before the use of reason, especially about those who die in their mother's womb.

a. God has provided for children, even for those who die in the maternal womb before they can be baptized, means which are of themselves sufficient for salvation. This is the common opinion, for Christ died for little ones also. But in vain He would have died for them if He had not provided means of salvation for them.

b. It is difficult to explain how these means are proferred.

1) It is certain that God remotely at any rate provided for the salvation of all these children since He instituted a remedy for washing away original sin. Actually, this sacrament of itself was established for all; if de facto it is not applied to certain ones, this situation comes about from natural causes. As the Universal Foreseer, God is not bound to impede the force and effect of these natural causes by a miracle.

Tanquerey, Manual of Dogmatic Theology, Vol. II, pp. 165-166

Jordan Potter said...

"Right Jordan: that would be tradition with a small 't'."

No, the idea that Limbo is a part of Hell is founded on the Church's doctrine (not a small-t tradition) that those who die with only original sin go to Hell. If anyone is in Limbo, then they are in a precinct of Hell.

Simon-Peter Vickers-Buckley said...

So am I a material heretic?

That's a serious, not a flippant question.

Jordan Potter said...

Maybe. I'm not sure what your beliefs on this subject are. I think the magisterial teaching is clear that those who die in only original sin go to Hell (even if it involves no torment, but even natural happiness, it's still not Heaven and therefore is part of Hell). But if God has extraordinary means that remit the original sin of unbaptised babies, I don't know and we can't find out. We can't say He doesn't, though.

Anonymous said...

I posted a string of comments to this delicate question at the (forum) link below:

http://www.universalindult.org/forum/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=1809

schoolman

Matt said...

Simon-Peter Vickers-Buckley,

This is one reason this is hidden from us.


So you concede your conclusion is in err? or not?

"I'm not sure what you say by "matter", are you suggesting that a human soul exists without a body? A body may have only one cell, but we still call it a body unless we're trying to de-humanize it (not saying you are, just asking for clarity)."

That is why I said "matter". Yes, even a cell has a body, a "cell body" I was just trying to differentiate between a body recognizable as such, i.e. with eyelashes, fingers, and a "body", a cell (or a few) that (still) has the soul infused. In other words, life begins at fertilization NOT conception and NOT when toes appear...that is what I meant.


So why make such a distinction without a difference? By what do you mean "fertilization" vs "conception"? My understanding is that in common usage fertilization and conception are both the moment when the egg is fertilized and a new creature comes into existence?


"Each human will be given a choice, in full comprehension? Can you provide some support for this belief? I don't see it in any of the teachings of the Church,"

Nope, I cannot. This is my wild speculation based on readings from different sources totally unrelated to this issue: e.g. the attributes of God and His nature, free will, the human soul, the sacramental system, the fall of the angels and angelic comprehension, beatific vision...


I might suggest that such wild speculation ought to start with "I have no support for this, and it may be essentially heretical, but, I believe..."

"It seems though that the theory ignores the fundamental truth that no soul is saved except by baptism or at least the implicit desire of it."

Like I said, my wild mind: but no, of course not. Picture this (always useful to see bodies in motion...that's why prots don't get Jesus saying to Peter, "And on this Rock..." because they can't see Him as a normal human in time and space looking around at those watching and bringing his hand down firmly on Peter's shoulder when He says "and on THIS rock..." but I digress.)

Aborted Human X, brought to full stature (33 years old same as Jesus) appears in an instant before Jesus. He kneels and confesses, "Thou art Jesus the Christ the Son of the Living God." Pause. Wait. Silence in heaven. Next, he says "Non serviam" and off he goes...not good.

Aborted Human Y, brought to full stature (33 years old, same as Jesus...same as us all in heaven) appears in an instant before Jesus. He kneels and confesses, "Thou art Jesus the Christ the Son of the Living God." Pause. Wait. Silence in heaven. Next, he says "Quis ut Deus?!" RIGHT THERE is your baptism of desire. Off he goes...good.

DESIRE properly understood is a movement of the will, it is in the WILL, this whole war is in the will.


No of this resolves the question that such a theory eliminates the need for the Church. It seems to me that such an approach may resolve the issue of those who die outside the Church through no fault of their own, but not for those culpable for personal mortal sin, or excluding themselves from His plan for salvation before the end of their natural life.



Jordan Potter,

No, the idea that Limbo is a part of Hell is founded on the Church's doctrine (not a small-t tradition) that those who die with only original sin go to Hell. If anyone is in Limbo, then they are in a precinct of Hell.


Can you cite something on this? It is my understanding that this precisely not true. No one can be sent to hell for anything but a mortal sin which they are personally culpable for. Don't we understand it that we actually condemn ourselves by our choice to separate from God?

God Bless,

Matt

New Catholic said...

Checking the comments during recess...

Matt and others: Mr Potter is correct. Definition: "the souls of those who depart this life in actual mortal sin, or in original sin alone, go down straightaway to hell to be punished, but with unequal pains" (cf. Ecumenical Council of Florence, Decree for the Greeks - Dz 694/DS 1307).

There are several other important references.

Simon-Peter Vickers-Buckley said...

Matt:

"No of this resolves the question that such a theory eliminates the need for the Church. It seems to me that such an approach may resolve the issue of those who die outside the Church through no fault of their own, but not for those culpable for personal mortal sin, or excluding..."

I don't see how such a theory eliminates the need for the Chuch. God commands the possible and the Church as the ordinary means. That was my whole point, this only affects those who die outside the Church through no fault of their own and are not cuplable of actual sin.

The ONLY reason I mentioned "matter" and "body" was to forstall any objection on the basis that a few cells of a recently-fertilized egg are NOT a body as commonly understood. The point is not what we call it, the crux is when God infuses a soul into matter, commonly termed "the body"...but no one actually calls a day old, fertilized egg "the / a body." Do they?

No, there is a difference between fertilzation and conception, at least that was my understanding. That is, you, I, and 99% of the world think that fertilization and conception are one and the same thing. A couple of years ago I watched a lecture on video by a pro-life nurse who stated that conception (medically speaking) is when the fertilized egg implants in the womb wall.

This was being exploited by pro-aborts (pill pushing pro-aborts) who then claimed: "the Church says life beings at conception. Therefore there is nothing wrong with preventing a fertilized egg fom implanting in the womb."

The advice was to say "life begins at fertilization." In this light when one says "Tmmaculate Conception" we actually mean "Immaculate Fertilization."

It was merely meant to point our how slippery and cynical pro-aborts are. That is, the pill-pushers would claim (in theory) that the soul is infused at the instant the fertilized egg implants in the womb, and not before.

___________

Thanks everyone for you comments and advice. Am checking them all.

Anonymous said...

The document opens the doors for theologians to feel free to speculate about the problem of unbaptized infants. The document acknowledges certain limits (e.g. it is not possible to explicitly deny original sin), but these limits are less restricted than in the past.

If we imagine that limbo and contraception were equal doctrines, it would be as if the ITC had said, "It is still possible to view the prohibition of all methods of contraception as being opposed to the will of God - and we are not able to positively confirm that contraception definitely is contrary to his will - but we must point out there are other ways to view the problem that are equally consistent with Catholic faith and tradition rightly regarded."

For better or for worse, this is the real significance of the document, not that it abolishes limbo on an ecclesial level, but it permits/encourages individual believers and theologians to abolish it in their own minds.

New Catholic said...

Checking in for inappropriate comments...

Wow, anonymous, this last comment is just so revealing! Theologians have been speculating on the matter for 1800 years, and individuals and theologians have been rampaging the poor doctrine ever since the last Council... But it was a matter for conciliar and pontifical deliberation (even if not dogmatic definition) for hundreds of years; not a mere theological speculation. It does not matter if "individual believers and theologians" may abolish limbo "in their own minds": what matters is if limbo is a plausible description of reality in the afterlife. If the limbo of the infants is real (a considerable possibility for almost all Doctors of the Church considering the data of revelation and the dogmatic definitions on punishment for those who die in original sin only), then what theologians believe in their minds is irrelevant.

Thank you very much for revealing to our readers the secret old desire of all "progressive Catholics": that the "mere doctrine" of the Church regarding contraception may receive the same treatment as the "mere doctrine" of the limbo of the infants. If the severe warning of Auctorem Fidei regarding the error of dismissing Limbo may be thrown away like that, why not those warnings of Casti Connubii, Humanae Vitae, and Evangelium Vitae regarding the moral error of contraception and which were never "formally defined"?...

Catholics, beware!

Matt said...

Anon,

I don't agree that re-considering Limbo is the same as re-considering everything else such as artificial contraception. Limbo is a hypothesis that was created to resolve the tension between the need for baptism in order to be saved, and the clear injustice of a baby who is free from personal sin could go to hell. That is not the same case with contraception as you have suggested.

God Bless,

Matt

Simon-Peter Vickers-Buckley said...

New Catholic:

can you tell me then, in simple terms, what it is that I am *required* to believe about Limbo?

"If the limbo of the infants is real...then what theologians believe in their minds is irrelevant."

I posted a video two days ago of the SSPX-affiliated Transalpine Redemptorists on Papa Stronsay in the Orkneys, and one of the priests said something very similar to a visting non-Catholic and that mans "belief" that "hell" was "nothing[ness]".

Something like, just because you believe a table is a marshmallow, doesn't make it so, spiritual reality is as real as matter.

thank you.

New Catholic said...

Dear sir,

Who am I to tell you what you are required to believe?... I can only ask you and anyone else interested in this matter to find a traditionally-minded priest who may guide you in this theological pursuit. I cannot stress this enough.

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For information purposes only, I add the following.

The magisterial data we have include two main points: the already mentioned definition that "the souls of those who depart this life in actual mortal sin, or in original sin alone, go down straightaway to hell to be punished, but with unequal pains" (there are several Magisterial references); and the condemnation as an error against the faith of those who simply dismiss the doctrine of the Limbo of the Infants (Auctorem Fidei; cf. Dz 1526; DS 2626: "The doctrine which rejects as a Pelagian fable, that place of the lower regions (which the faithful generally designate by the name of the limbo of children) in which the souls of those departing with the sole guilt of original sin are punished with the punishment of the condemned, exclusive of the punishment of fire, just as if, by this very fact, that these who remove the punishment of fire introduced that middle place and state free of guilt and of punishment between the kingdom of God and eternal damnation, such as that about which the Pelagians idly talk,—false, rash, injurious to Catholic schools.").

In other words, yes, the Limbo of the Infants is a "theological construct" in the sense of it being a "part of hell"; yet, it remains the best theological option truly based on the data of Revelation and Tradition. What is not a theological construct is that those who die in original sin only go to hell (it should be unnecessary to mention baptism of desire here, since those who die in this circumstance do not die in original sin).

Wouldn't it have been much easier for the theologians of the past to "save" unbaptized children? It would -- but they labored in honesty and faithfulness to what has been actually revealed, not establishing new revelations based on personal views of hope. The theology of the Doctors of the Church is timeless, while the ITC document already sounds anachronistic, as if it had been written in 1967...

Anonymous said...

May I stake some ground around Jordan Potter's?

If the word "Limbo" means "edge" or "border", is it the outer edge of Heaven or that of Hell, since these are the only two choices available?

Our Baltimore Catechism says that God is not unjust in requiring baptism of us because he hasn't taken away anything to which we have an absolute right.

ITC admits that many of these souls are in Hell, at least if we read carefully. We don't HOPE for something which is already a sure thing. We don't hope that George Bush won the last election, for this is a fact. We don't hope that planes don't crash into the Twin Towers, for this has already happened. We HOPE for that which is possible, but by no means sure.

If all unbaptised children go to heaven, abortionists are doing us all a favor. This is, I trust, absurd, but it is the logical conclusion of the "without personal sin" circumlocutory cul-de-sac.

dcs said...

anonymous writes:
If all unbaptised children go to heaven, abortionists are doing us all a favor.

I'm not sure this argument really holds water. We know, for example, that baptized children who have not reached the age of reason go to heaven when they die. Yet we dare not say that child murderers are doing us a favor. "Thou shalt not kill" is a moral absolute even if one knows that one's victim will go to heaven.

New Catholic said...

The study says many things, schoolman, and your position is clear since your first comment. We do not need greater confusion in this matter and whoever wishes to read the document by himself may do so.

Since we wish to avoid a circular thread, we will close it for the time being.