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?
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.