Rorate Caeli

Limbo of the Children
New expiration date: 2008

At the eve of the closing Mass of this year's meeting of the International Theological Commission, when so much of the world media was reporting that "the Pope will abolish Limbo" (that is, the Limbus Infantium, or Limbo of the Children), including journalists we admire, such as Andrea Tornielli of Il Giornale, we decided not to publish an "opinion", but extremely important excerpts of Papal and Conciliar definitions on the matter.

Even though the Holy Father could not have been sterner in his homily yesterday (he did not "abolish" anything, but actually condemned those theologians who follow their huge egos), yet usually respectable sources (such as Korazym) still insist on stating, using some words of Archbishop Bruno Forte, an ITC member, that Limbo "never existed", it was "always a theological hypothesis"... After a week of idle speculation on the matter, the Italian media now states that the abolition of the Limbus Infantium will surely come in 2008...

This tiny example of news distortion serves as a reminder of what happened continously during the Second Vatican Council and its aftermath: it did not matter what a specific document said, or its actual magisterial relevance -- what mattered was what was expected as certain by "influential news organizations", what was "hyped" and, as such, immediately reported by the press, in a spiral of misinformation and distortion which could never be reversed in the mind of the people.

The Magisterial definitions, which no Pope may ever alter, and which the merely consultative ITC can never even touch, will remain unaltered, in 2006 as in 2008, in 2008 as in 1794...

Greatly recommended article: Could Limbo Be 'Abolished'?, by Father Brian Harrison.


  1. What are the fruits of such a pronouncement? It won't objectively affect the fate of the children in question. They will remain where God only knows - and He has never revealed where that "where" is.
    People will read earlier pronouncements and compare them with this novel approach and then they will conclude that the Church doesn't have a clue what She believes. They will have good reason to ask, "Why should we believe anything coming from Rome when Rome is just likely to change its mind to achieve some desired pastoral result?" This, and this alone, is sufficient reason to reject this entire project. To the extent that the Holy Father fails to see this or even encourages this kind of thinking, he becomes responsible for the harm that will undoubtedly follow. As Our Lord said, when the Son of Man returns, will He find any faith????

  2. It would appear that we are going to be held in Limbo on this as well as other matters for some time to come. Perhaps this is where the Latin Mass is heading for indultarians.

    Now, that "diabolical disorientation" from the top admonition of Sister Lucia and Cardinal Ciappi take increasing body from day to day.

  3. It does not matter what Fr Harrison writes. Once the matter was omitted from the catechism of Pope John Paul (RIP) II Limbo was destined to be for the conciliar axe. The modern church has established its intention to ignore Tradition and attempt to rewrite the place of the church in society. They have already virtually by-passed Original Sin using ecumenical and interfaith legerte-de-main.

    The more you deny and confuse, the more you can confuse and deny. Not many catholics seem to be able to distinguish truth from falsehood these days. Use of the media has assisted this process inestimably. The very tool the previous Supreme Pontiff used to immense effect to project his image on the modern church is being exploited to indoctrinate everyone into believing you can believe in anything. And still go to Heaven. After all, God is He not?

  4. I think Fr. Zuhlsdorf makes some important and very edifying observations here:

  5. Deleted posters:

    I do not have to answer anything here... Why don't you wait for the ITC document which will not "abolish" limbo (yet, may dismiss it as unnecessary, not the first interesting statement from this purely consultative body) ... or for the papal pronouncement abolishing it which will not happen at all?

  6. Okay, New Catholic, but what's wrong with respectfully discussing different aspects of the article in light of our understanding of Catholic tradition?

    Isn't what you want from your comment page? Isn't the following a question worth reading, considering and commenting on?

    "Can/will someone receive baptismal grace without baptismal waters if these waters are inaccessible to him for the duration of his earthly life?"

    For my part, I think it's worth showing (1) why many good Catholics down through history have believed in Limbo and also (2) why some good Catholics today are reconsidering this belief in Limbo. These latter are not modernists with novel approaches bent on destroying tradition. They are not unprincipled prelates who care about nothing other than some desired pastoral result.

    Delete this post if you think it's necessary, New Catholic, it's content is only intended for your consideration anyway.

  7. I agree, New Catholic. You don't have to answer. What is odd is not your failure to answer, but your nervous suppression of comments that refer to orthodox imprimatured Catholic sources, preconciliar and one from the papacy of St Pius X, that show that belief in the salvation of non-baptized infants, while by no means approved, was also regarded as not heretical, but strictly dogmatically possible. What on earth are you afraid of?

    I can tell you pastoral practice was changing before Vatican II. An old widow of our London UK parish lost a child in 1959-60, after birth, but before baptism. She told me that the priest appealed to Cajetan's opinion (explicitly uncondemned by Trent) that the child was saved by her mother's faith and desire, and gave the infant a Christian funeral. He did this very openly. No one in the Archdiocese of Westminster objected. But obviously the authorities knew less about the matter than you do. Funny that Joseph Ratzinger, as a private theologian, has never taken your view. But don't think it will help you to delete that observation. His view has been available in widely published form since the mid 1980s.

  8. That is a different way to present the matter, tom. Your previous comments made clear that the Limbo of Children could not be even contemplated as a theological possibility... and that there was Magisterial support for this absurd position. That is simply not correct. And that is why Limbo can never and will never be "abolished": because it is the best possible solution with the data of revelation which is available.

    What an English priest in the feverish late 1950s did does not mean anything other than that he acted against canonical rules as they then stood.


    Let me be clear: this whole matter was INFLATED by the secular press. What matters for them is to present the Church as ever-changing in her doctrine. The magisterial support for the damnation of infants who die in original sin is much stronger than, for instance, that which condemns contraception...

    What effect does this have on the practical level?... Many Catholics already take too long to have their children baptized, and baptism by water remains and shall remain till the end of times the only SURE means for the salvation of all those without the use of reason (not killed for the sake of Christ). Whose purpose does all this media talk serve -- except the purpose of that Spirit who hates all baptisms?

    I feel as my obligation in this very tiny part of the virtual world to protect the little faith of simple Traditional-minded Catholics, those who do not know what Ratzinger said or who do not understand misinterpretations of Cajetan. To them and to all I say: Limbo cannot be "abolished"! Have your children baptized as early as possible after their birth!

    End of discussion.