Miscarried Babies and Heaven

Like many other women, I once suffered a miscarriage. It all happened in such painful and traumatic circumstances that my baby was never baptised, something I have regretted deeply to this day. In all the years since I have wondered if my little Gerard (for that is what he would have been called) is now truly in Heaven among all the other holy innocents who, like him, tragically never had the chance of receiving God’s sanctifying grace in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. In his ASK FATHER series, Fr.Z gives a thoughtful and sensitive response to this troubling question. 

Does a miscarriage baby go to heaven if not baptized?

Baptized-Babies

One of God’s greatest attributes is His mercy. We read in the letter of James 2:13, that mercy triumphs over judgment. Mercy is a reflection of His being Almighty.

We know that, in justice, none of us deserves heaven. The sin of Adam and Eve broke our friendship with God. In justice, we stand condemned.

But God, in His mercy, sent His Son to suffer and die for us and to pay the price of Adam’s sin. Jesus Christ unlocked the gate to heaven and showed us the way to ascend to the destiny that our first parents lost. He told us that the way we follow Him, the narrow path set out for our salvation, includes baptism. In baptism we become members of His divine family and of His Body. Through baptism, we once again gain the opportunity to go to heaven.

We know with firm faith in what He has revealed that we know that baptism is necessary for salvation.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church 1257 states:

“The Lord himself affirms that baptism is necessary for salvation [John 3:5]. . . . Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament (Mark 16:16)”.

This is a normative necessity. It is not absolute in the sense that exceptions are not possible. We can’t place limitations on what God can do.

And so we also know, with the same firm faith in revelation, that God is also merciful.

What happens to those who are not baptized, including infants and all those who never even had a chance to be baptized? We don’t know. This fact can cause us some discomfort, especially in families grieving the loss of an unbaptized child. This discomfort also felt by converts who were the first in their family to hear and accept the love of Christ into their hearts. They think back to deceased loved ones who never had a chance to hear the Gospel.

But we know that God is merciful.

Can he bring to heaven someone who is unbaptized? YES, no question about that. On the Cross, Christ said to the unbaptized Good Thief, “this day you will be with Me in paradise.” Can he bring to heaven our beloved children – born and unborn – who are not baptized? Yes.

How does He do this without baptism? We don’t know, but He most certainly can.

He tells us clearly that baptism is essential. We should have no doubt of that fact. This knowledge should make us strive to bring all those we love to the grace of the baptismal font.

God is merciful.

Again, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states (cf. CCC 1260–1, 1283):

“Those who die for the faith, those who are catechumens, and all those who, without knowing of the Church but acting under the inspiration of grace, seek God sincerely and strive to fulfill his will, are saved even if they have not been baptized.”

The salvation of unbaptized infants is also possible, in God’s great mercy.

Even as we thank God for all the gifts He gives us, give Him also your cares and questions, always gratefully and with tear-tinged joy asking for mercy and graces for all your loved ones. We look forward to our joyous reunion in the life to come.

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10 Responses to Miscarried Babies and Heaven

  1. Feminine But Not Feminist says:

    “The Lord himself affirms that baptism is necessary for salvation [John 3:5]. . . . Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament (Mark 16:16)”.

    Miscarried (and aborted) babies that died in the womb haven’t had the Gospel proclaimed to them, nor have they had the possibility of asking for the Sacrament of Baptism. It seems like the same thing would be the case for newborns, if they were to die before their parents could get them baptised. I mean, it’s not a baby’s fault if they die before they’re able to decide these things for themselves, so I can’t see a loving and merciful God saying to a miscarried (etc) baby “your parents didn’t do this for you, so despite the fact that you had no control over that and might’ve chosen it for yourself when older, off to Hell you go!”

  2. Feminine But Not Feminist says:

    Oops. That should end with “to Hell” rather than “too Hell”…

  3. sixupman says:

    This matter concerns me almost every day of my life!

  4. johnhenrycn says:

    FBNF (21:22) – Much as I agree with your perception of what it means to be a loving and merciful God, I have to ask what version of the Bible it is where you found that passsage from Mark 16:16?

  5. Feminine But Not Feminist says:

    @ johnhenrycn

    I quoted it directly from the original post.

  6. johnhenrycn says:

    FBNF: I see now, having now read Fr Zuhlsdorf’s article on this issue, that you were quoting his extract from paragraph 1257 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church; but Fr Z made a mistake in suggesting Mk 16:16 says what he implies it says. The reference to Mk 16:16 in CCC paragraph 1257 is included as a “Cf” footnote to the teaching, not as an actual biblical quotation, and Fr Z has accidentally suggested otherwise.

    Again, I share your sentiments concerning a loving and merciful God, but the only answer we have concerning unbaptized infants is found at paragraph 1261 of the CCC.

  7. johnhenrycn says:

    1261:

    “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. All the more urgent is the Church’s call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.”

    Indeed, Jesus’ tenderness toward children allows us to hope that there is a way. Some hope that all of us may be saved.

  8. toadspittle says:

    “…my baby was never baptised, something I have regretted deeply to this day. “
    What could you have possibly done, Kathleen? Regret under such conditions is futile. It was not our fault. Are you regretting God’s will? Surely not?
    We are skirting nervously around the unmentioned idea of “Limbo” here, aren’t we? Which I was told, in the quondam days of my nonage, was “gospel” – and now turns out simply wasn’t – just something cobbled up to try to plug the intellectual lacunae currently under question here.
    Limbo was one of the first “teachings” that, by its clear “unfairness,” began to make me question the whole religious package. Not that that’s of much significance here.

  9. kathleen says:

    Toad, Limbo was never a doctrinal “teaching” of the Catholic Church; it was never more than a “concept” to give a possible explanation as to the final destiny for all those babies who died before Baptism (and thus the removal of Original Sin).

    I have since discovered that Pope Benedict XVI authorised the publication of a 41 page document in 2007, called “The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptised”.

    “The conclusion of this study is that there are theological and liturgical reasons to hope that infants who die without baptism may be saved and brought into eternal happiness even if there is not an explicit teaching on this question found in revelation. […] There are reasons to hope that God will save these infants precisely because IT WAS NOT POSSIBLE (to baptise them).”

    Apparently, in writings before his election as Pope in 2005, he made it clear he believed ‘the concept of Limbo’ should be abandoned because it was “only a theological hypothesis” and “never a defined truth of faith”.

    I intend to read the above-mentioned document, and I suggest you do too.

  10. toadspittle says:

    “..it (Limbo) was “only a ” theological hypothesis”

    Well, that’s a relief. We can forget anyone ever mentioned it, then.
    If only we could do that for all “theological hypothesises.”
    Who decides what constitutes a theological hypothesis, and what doesn’t? God, I suppose.
    Not Toad.
    Is Original Sin a theological hypothesis? Is the Miracle of Fatima?

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