Is Limbo Closed? (Where Do Unbaptized Babies Go?)

As this has come up again, Joe Heschmeyer has an excellent description of the current state of things:

So what happens to a baby who dies without Baptism? After all, neither Heaven or Hell seem like an obvious fit. On the one hand, they weren’t baptized, so they seemingly can’t enjoy the Beatific Vision: “For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). On the other hand, they didn’t sin, so it would be unjust to damn them.
For centuries, Catholics tended to believe that they went to Limbo. On surface, this idea doesn’t look Biblical: you won’t find the word “Limbo” anywhere in Scripture. What you will find, though, is the idea that the faithful who died before Christ descended into what’s “the Bosom of Abraham.” This is where Jesus describes Lazarus as going after death (Luke 16:23). It’s hell, inasmuch as it’s not the perfect rest and enjoyment of the Beatific Vision of Heaven… but it’s not damnation, and there’s no sense that Lazarus or anyone else in Abraham’s bosom suffered.

Read the rest here

This entry was posted in Apologetics. Bookmark the permalink.

47 Responses to Is Limbo Closed? (Where Do Unbaptized Babies Go?)

  1. Tom Fisher says:

    That was very interesting Raven, and cleared up a few misconception I had about it too. Thanks

  2. toadspittle says:

    “Persons, such as infants, who have not committed actual sin and who, through no fault of theirs, die without baptism, cannot enter heaven,* Says The Baltimore Catechism, which is, or was, considered infallible, I believe. (*my ‘bold’ emphasis.)
    Forget the rest – that is the bit that counts. Where the “persons, such as infants,” do go – is immaterial. The one place they categorically don’t go – is Heaven.
    Nor do Protestants, like C.S.Lewis, and certainly nor do Atheists, Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims. (Don’t know about Agnostics*.) Or so I was told. That’s a pretty substantial slice of the world’s population ruled out from the get-go. Very exclusive and picky religion Catholicism, despite the inclusive name.
    But maybe things have materially changed. Michael will know.

    *Joke.

  3. Robert says:

    Man has Free Will but for dependent children they must first reach the age of Reason. The Age when they become accountable for their own personal choices and begin to earned merits in their own Rights. Parents are responsible before God for their siblings and the Church has always recognised the imperative of the sacrament of Baptism.
    Toad as usual just goes way off at a tangent and reveals frankly naive prejudice and opinion that are unworthy of Christ. Free Will and invincible ignorance also apply. We have been told NOT to Judge. There is only ONE Judge God.
    The more you know of God the greater you will be judged by God against this knowledge. The Jews 2000 years ago were judged by God on their knowledge of the Messiah. The Gentiles were bereft of this knowledge. Today Catholics are being judged by Heaven in the same way. This is why the Irish Vote is Damning! Ireland has committed the same rejection of God as the Jews, because of Irelands greater knowledge of the Faith and the Gifts lavished on them by Heaven (Knock).
    Four nations were the pillars of the Rome Catholic Faith. England, Spain, France and of course Italy. These nations cited at La Salette have each over time rebelled and rejected Christ.
    Limbo and the Bosom of Abraham? The Patriachs (including St Joseph and St John The Baptist, St Anne; St Joachim) died before Our Lord’s Passion and Resurrection which conquered Death and Opened the Door to Heaven. So were these earlier souls Baptised? Notice however they had Free Will and were of the Age of Reason.
    We are looking at Eternity and viewing Heaven and Hell and this should concentrate Our Free Will choices in the very small time available to Us in Our Lives.
    Who knows but God what these Holy Innocents have in their Future, Justice would require that they have the Grace to be able to earn high places in Heaven through their Free Will. What is certain is they are NOT condemned because they died lacking Free Will choice, invincible ignorance.
    They are saved and presumably Heaven will provide the means and oppurtunity for these souls to gain Graces and Merits in their own right so they can enter Heaven.
    God is Love.

  4. mkenny114 says:

    Toad,

    Do you remember a couple of days ago, in response to similar concerns that you raised, that I referred to the section of the Catechism dealing with the four marks of the Church? I think it might be worth doing so again, as all the answers you need are in there, and there are plentiful references, so you can see when and where the citations come from. The following passage (846) is of particular importance:

    ‘Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.

    The following section then states that:

    ‘Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation.’

    So, you can see in these statements alone (though it is worth reading this whole part of the Catechism as well, as these points are fleshed out, supported and given more context) that neither is the unique role of the Church in salvation denied, nor any allowance made for those genuinely ignorant of its necessity for salvation. This is not a new idea either – how to reconcile the Church’s exclusive claims with the fate of those, for whatever reasons, who do not know of those claims, was discussed as early as the first half of the second century by Saint Justin Martyr; and he came to the same conclusions.

    An analogy I find useful is that the Church is to the world what the sacraments are to those within the Church. Just as the sacraments are the ordinary means of grace, but God’s grace is not limited to them, so is the Church the ordinary means of salvation, but He is not limited by the means He has Himself appointed. In either case though, knowing of the existence of Church/sacraments, and the need for them, one is culpable for rejecting them.

    http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P29.HTM

  5. mkenny114 says:

    Sorry, I meant to write ‘…nor is any allowance denied for those genuinely ignorant of its necessity for salvation.’

  6. toadspittle says:

    “Toad as usual just goes way off at a tangent and reveals frankly naive prejudice and opinion that are unworthy of Christ. Free Will and invincible ignorance also apply. We have been told NOT to Judge. There is only ONE Judge God.”

    No doubt, Toad’s opinions and prejudices are, “unworthy of Christ,” Rogebert.
    He’s only a toad.
    …You think your own opinions and prejudices are not? … Vanity of vanities.

    “We have been told NOT to Judge. There is only ONE Judge God.”
    Well, then, you’d better stop judging what Toad says, pronto, hadn’t you?
    …Not that Toad cares

  7. ginnyfree says:

    Only one thing to say: Baptism of Desire. Those infants who have passed without proper baptism have always been commended to the Mercy of God. St. Thomas Aquinas writes about the Baptism of Desire along with the Baptism of Blood. Together with Baptism they provide the means for God’s Mercy to reach those who some see as unreachable by ordinary means. Never underestimate the Mercy of God. It will not be spent till the last soul to be saved enters into Heaven. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  8. I haven’t read the article yet, but I would like to say that I believe, not only what you guys have said here, but also that these people who we say can also be saved without being baptized, will probably have some kind of baptism after death if baptism really is necessary like the bible and many protestants say it is. I don’t think the bible says we have to be baptized before we die.

  9. Robert says:

    The point is that Original Sin prevents entry into Heaven. The Duty of parents before God is to Baptise their siblings. Our Lord was circumcised and presented in the Temple when He was born as required under the old dispensation.
    Baptism and Free Will (but not under age of reason). Free Will that earns Us merits and or demerits Heaven and or Hell. The aborted have never had a chance of Life instead their Blood has been shed within Original Sin which frankly is an blood sacrifice to Satan whose realm is Sin. Before Our Lords Passion Man couldn’t enter Heaven so we have to be clothed in the sacraments to enter Heaven (put on Christ).
    Abortion (murder) is building up Satan’s reign.
    So the matter of Limbo is far from some airy fairy theological opinion it is a damning condemnation of a world that has chosen to remain within Sin and hence Satans domain.
    The world has chosen Satan and His domain. Divorce, Abortion, Beastility.
    But these little souls died before the age of Reason. God is Love and presumably they will have the opurtunity to exercise their free will and earn places in Heaven. The how and why Heaven hasn’t revealed.
    What should shock and horrify Catholics is SIN because the Price of this is before Us in the image of the innocent sinless Crucified! Stop procrastinating over SIN.

  10. ginnyfree says:

    Hello Louse. Nice to “meet” you. I don’t think I’ve ever responded to anything you’ve said so far, but since you seem interested I thought I should. Baptism is only for the living. There is no way to Baptise a person once they’ve passed from this life to the next. Baptism has three elements, form, that is the words used by the minister of the Baptism, matter, which is water and intent which is to say that the person giving the Baptism intends to Baptise and the person either an adult is desiring to be Baptised or in the case of an infant, those witnessing the Baptism, parents and Godparents, all are desiring the child’s Baptism. The form of the Baptism is the words of institution, ” I Baptise you _____ in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” and this is said over the person/child being Baptised while the water is being poured over them. That’s it. Pretty simple. Any person can Baptise if there is a danger of death but it should be done in Church by a Priest or Deacon.
    Those saints of the Old Testament were never Baptised but it has been said they received Baptism of Desire.
    Here is a good source for more info and follow the link for the rest. It is from Fr. Hardon, who just a few days ago passed away, may he rest in peace. He’s a pretty smart guy and the answers though brief are good ones.
    “Fr. John Hardon THE QUESTION AND ANSWER CATECHISM
    IS BAPTISM OF WATER NECESSARY FOR SALVATION? It is commonly taught by the
    Church that baptism of water is necessary for salvation for those who have
    not reached the use of reason.
    WHAT IS BAPTISM OF DESIRE? Baptism of desire is the implicit desire for
    baptism of water by a person who makes an act of perfect love of God,
    based on faith and with a sincere sorrow for one’s sins. Such was the case
    in the Acts of the Apostles, when Peter encountered pagans who, moved by
    the grace of the Holy Spirit, proclaimed the greatness of God. “Peter
    himself then said, ‘Could anyone refuse the water of baptism to these
    people, now they have received the Holy Spirit….?'” (Acts 10:46-47).
    IS BAPTISM OF DESIRE A SACRAMENT? Baptism of desire is not a sacrament;
    it does not imprint the baptismal character or enable a person to receive
    the other sacraments. Nevertheless, it does confer sanctifying grace.
    WHAT IS THE FATE OF UNBAPTIZED INFANTS? The fate of the unbaptized
    infants is left to the mercy of God. It is generally taught that the souls
    of those who depart this life with original sin on their souls, but
    without actual sin, go to limbo.
    WHAT IS LIMBO? According to St. Thomas, limbo is a place of perfect
    natural happiness but without the supernatural vision of God to which we
    have no natural right. https://www.ewtn.com/library/DOCTRINE/BAPTISM.TXT

    God bless. Ginnyfree.

  11. toadspittle says:

    “Hello Louse.”
    Hang on Ginnyfree, let’s not jump to conclusions here.

    “WHAT IS THE FATE OF UNBAPTIZED INFANTS? The fate of the unbaptized
    infants is left to the mercy of God. It is generally taught that the souls
    of those who depart this life with original sin on their souls, but
    without actual sin, go to limbo.
    WHAT IS LIMBO? According to St. Thomas, limbo is a place of perfect
    natural happiness but without the supernatural vision of God to which we
    have no natural right. https://www.ewtn.com/library/DOCTRINE/BAPTISM.TXT

    …In other words, God has built an entire, infinite, universe, with Planet Earth at its centre, (according to the Bible) where all the people Made In His Image live, and populated it with countless billions of them – virtually all of whom are not entitled to go to Heaven for one reason or another, – and will not do so, according to the Baltimore Book of Records .
    Hmmm. Funny old world, innit?
    Design flaw here, I suggest. Back to the old drawing board, maybe?

  12. GC says:

    I kind of like the idea that I can decide for myself which way, up or down, I can go for eternity, in spite of Mr Fisher-type quibbles. I feel “empowered” – that’s the right word these days, isn’t it?

    Perhaps that’s just me. Toads of course are just probably different.

  13. toadspittle says:

    “God is Love and presumably they (the unbaptised babies) will have the opportunity to exercise their free will and earn places in Heaven. “
    You know better than the Catechism, do you now, Rogebert? Well, so do I.

    “So the matter of Limbo is far from some airy fairy theological opinion…”
    …very far indeed, I suspect.

    Not that we care what the fairies think, do we?
    …Even the theological ones.

  14. mkenny114 says:

    In other words, God has built an entire, infinite, universe, with Planet Earth at its centre, (according to the Bible) where all the people Made In His Image live, and populated it with countless billions of them – virtually all of whom are not entitled to go to Heaven for one reason or another

    I take it the quotations from the Catechism and the Church/sacraments analogy above didn’t help then Toad? Shame, as their thrust is that those who are genuinely ignorant of what is necessary for salvation cannot be held culpable on that very basis, and I would have thought this would be grounds for a very real ‘reasonable hope’ for such people.

  15. toadspittle says:

    All I ask , GC is that people (not you, of course) read what I write – automatically give me the thumbs-down – and then we all get on with our miserable lives.
    So, far, so good.
    …But why am I not “Mr. Toad, ” seeing as Tom is “Mr. Fisher?” My amour-propre is discombobulated.
    Somewhat.
    “I kind of like the idea that I can decide for myself which way, up or down, I can go, “
    To paraphrase Carlyle, (he won’t care – he’s dead) “By God, you’d better!”

  16. toadspittle says:

    “I take it the quotations from the Catechism and the Church/sacraments analogy above didn’t help then Toad? “
    Nope.

  17. mkenny114 says:

    Haha! Any particular reason(s) why?

  18. toadspittle says:

    No particular reason for assuming they are any more (or less) true than any other unverifiable statement. They might be. But let’s not get carried away.
    But why didn’t an omnipotent and kindly God ensure that everyone on earth got an equal chance at the big prize? Just that.
    Not beyond Him, surely? (Oh, don’t bother answering that, Michael – or there’s no end to it all, is there?

  19. toadspittle says:

    “The point is that Original Sin prevents entry into Heaven.”
    Then we must abolish it as soon as possible.

  20. mkenny114 says:

    No particular reason for assuming they are any more (or less) true than any other unverifiable statement. They might be. But let’s not get carried away.

    Haha-classic Toad! Completely ridiculous of course – apart from anything else, if you really see all statements regarding religious truth as ‘unverifiable’ (meaning what exactly – that they can’t be weighed on scales or held over a bunsen burner?), then one wonders why you persist in wasting your time on them; there is, in the light of such an assumption, clearly no case to be made and so no point in bothering with them – but entertaining nonetheless.

    But why didn’t an omnipotent and kindly God ensure that everyone on earth got an equal chance at the big prize?

    I know you asked me not to bother answering this, but it really does seem to me that, unless one wants to remove free will from the equation, that is exactly what He has done. The quotations from the Catechism make it clear that noone will be judged for what they cannot be held culpable for. Of course, God could have created us to automatically choose Him whether we liked it or not, but then we would be no more than robots – unless you would actually quite like the robot scenario, what more do you want?

  21. toadspittle says:

    Yes,I know all this is nonsensical, Michael, but doesn’t it say “Unless you are baptised of water and The Holy Spirit YOU WILL NOT enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” ? No talk about desire, or intentions, orinnocence, or suchlike obscurantist tripe. What about the catechism I quoted a few hours ago? Unbaptised people can’t, and don’t, and won’t, go to Heaven. Full stop. Chopped liver, apparently. No problem, chuck them on the Limbo scrapheap.
    I can never get a straight answer, to all this, never will, and you are right in asking why I bother bashing my head against the wall. I’m just thick.

  22. toadspittle says:

    over
    and
    out.

  23. mkenny114 says:

    Toad,

    I think these answers/responses are fairly straightforward. Whether you like them or not is another thing entirely, but there we go:

    doesn’t it say “Unless you are baptised of water and The Holy Spirit YOU WILL NOT enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” ? No talk about desire, or intentions, orinnocence, or suchlike obscurantist tripe.

    Yes, it does say that, but as the Church does not, and never has, employed a ‘Scripture alone’ approach, then this is not a problem. Our Lord founded a Church, which He gave authority to teach in His name and which He guaranteed would be led by the Holy Spirit in order to discern the authentic interpretation of His words in response to the many changing circumstances He knew we would be met with. He never intended us to work with the Bible alone, and to reject the possibility of doctrinal development – development is, in fact, inevitable; so He gave us the means to know which developments are authentic and which are erroneous.

    What about the catechism I quoted a few hours ago? Unbaptised people can’t, and don’t, and won’t, go to Heaven. Full stop. Chopped liver, apparently. No problem, chuck them on the Limbo scrapheap.

    The catechism you quoted from was by Fr. John Hardon – one man. While he may enjoy (and deservedly so as far as I know) a very good reputation, he is not the Church.

    I can never get a straight answer, to all this, never will

    You’ve had plenty of straight answers, on this and many other topics, from many different people. If it’s really all as meaningless as you say, then there is no point debating the finer points of any doctrine. Personally I think you must actually sense there to be some meaning in all this, otherwise you wouldn’t persist in asking the questions, but that may well be wrong.

  24. ginnyfree says:

    Toad, face it. If you had your hand in Creation, everything would resemble a lilypad. Ribbit. About that drawing board,,,,,,,,,,,,

  25. mkenny114 says:

    Unbaptised people can’t, and don’t, and won’t, go to Heaven. Full stop. Chopped liver, apparently. No problem, chuck them on the Limbo scrapheap.

    P.S. Furthermore, this is not even what Fr. Hardon’s catechism says. It specifically says that the fate of unbaptised children is left to the mercy of God, not that they ‘can’t or won’t go to Heaven’, and it is ‘generally taught’ that they go to limbo, not that they definitely do, or that this is an official teaching. Seems pretty clear to me.

  26. mkenny114 says:

    Oops, looking back I see you meant the Baltimore Catechism. Nevertheless, this is still not a catechism for the whole Church, and still says nothing inconsistent with what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says – i.e.; limbo is a theory (a ‘common belief’). The Catechism neither denies nor confirms this theory, but entrusts all unbaptised children to the mercy of God. Actually, I would have thought you’d quite like the Church’s teaching in this area, as what is basically being said is that we don’t know, and so will not provide a definitive answer.

  27. johnhenrycn says:

    The Gospel According To Toad:
    “Persons, such as infants, who have not committed actual sin and who, through no fault of theirs, die without baptism, cannot enter heaven, says The Baltimore Catechism, which is, or was, considered infallible, I believe.”

    No, [t]he Baltimore Catechism is not infallible and was never considered to be so, nor does it say what you say it does. Show me where it says that.

  28. johnhenrycn says:

    “Infants cannot receive the baptism of desire since they have not yet the use of reason. However, their lack of Baptism may be supplied in a way we do not know, perhaps even by the desire of the mother.”

    A Catechism in Pictures: My Catholic Faith – A Manual of Religion
    Most Reverend Louis LaRavoire Morrow, D.D., Bishop of Krishnagar, Sarto House, Kansas City, MO, 1949

  29. johnhenrycn says:

    ..page 253, column 2 (to complete the citation). As a footnote, His Excellency says:

    “Some pious Doctors of the Church believe that little babies who die without Baptism may even receive it from an angel. But since this is only pious belief, parents sin mortally if they neglect the Baptism of their children.’

  30. johnhenrycn says:

    …I rely on the relevant parts of The New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism No. 2 (1962) edition, which I now see may be at odds with the original (?) version of that catechism, which is cited in the Heschmeyer link. Whatever, neither of those catechisms is infallible or was ever considered to be so.

  31. johnhenrycn says:

    …Sorry…Sarto House, Kansas City, MO, 1954 (Third Edition). Again, sorry, except I note that Bishop Morrow mentions on his Acknowledgments page that:

    “All material from ‘A Catechism of Christian Doctrine, No. 3 Revised Edition of the Baltimore Catechism‘…is reproduced in this book with the permission of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C.”

    …which is to say that Morrow’s views are in conformity with the Baltimore Catechism, as it was before Vatican II. Has there been a new edition after 1962? I shudder to Google.

  32. johnhenrycn says:

    “The point is that Original Sin prevents entry into Heaven.”

    Discuss.

  33. johnhenrycn says:

    “Oops”
    Point of order, mkenny: “oops” is a visual idiom that loses its cachet, and also its sachet – if I may be so bold – when the first letter thereof is capitalized.

  34. johnhenrycn says:

    Looking at MKenny’s comment at 20:27 on 07 June 2015 is enough to prove that the ‘Reply’ button on this blog should be euthanised. But, I defer to our Christian Doctor In The House who may decide to exercise heroic measures and extraordinary means to keep that function alive.

    …Speaking of the sanctity of life, in the province where I was born:

    “Proposed Quebec legislation would impose heavy fines and jail time for serial animal abusers and go so far as to criminalize flushing live goldfish down the toilet.”

    http://findlaw.ca/news/news-id-8286

    “Oops!”, as MKenny might say.

  35. Looking at MKenny’s comment at 20:27 on 07 June 2015 is enough to prove that the ‘Reply’ button on this blog should be euthanised.

    Modern
    Poetry,
    JH,
    it’s
    Modern
    Poetry
    (well
    that’s
    what
    it
    looks
    like
    to
    me).

  36. johnhenrycn says:

    Haiku, more like:

    “I wake reluctant,
    too cold,
    to get out of bed,
    but I need
    to pee.”

  37. johnhenrycn says:

    My glasses gave out, TF – about half way down – but respect, anyway:

    Skiddle de bee bop
    Doodle de tee top shoe shop
    Wabba wee doop dip

  38. Brother Burrito says:

    OK guys, I have reduced the comment nesting level from 10 to 6.

    Comments should be less squeezed now, though waistlines may still need some support.

  39. mkenny114 says:

    Interesting point JH… Do you have any alternatives to suggest, should I (highly likely) need to begin a sentence with an admission of error again in the future?

  40. Michael says:

    Maybe ‘ahem’, ‘ah’ or ‘golly’, or perhaps (to Transatlanticise things) ‘shucks’? I’m concerned these might all be visual idioms as well though, in which case their sachets might also be lost…

  41. Tom Fisher says:

    Interesting point JH

    Do you know what JH meant re “oops”? I read it three times, then tried reading it again upside down with a hat on. Still none the wiser.

  42. Michael says:

    Do you know what JH meant re “oops”? I read it three times, then tried reading it again upside down with a hat on. Still none the wiser.

    Haha – no, I’m not entirely sure myself either! The only thing I can think of is that the word ‘oops’ is associated with some kind of visual manifestation of error, like stumbling or falling over. Otherwise, I am not sure how it is any more a visual idiom than any other similar phrase. As for why it should therefore not begin with a capital letter, I have absolutely no idea!

  43. ginnyfree says:

    Hello John Henry. Baptism of Desire applies post mortem. It isn’t a sacrament. It is an outpouring of the mercy of God. It works on the assumption that the soul upon which it is conferred, if given the opportunity to choose Baptism for themselves would in the positive embrace this grace. It is more than an adult dying before their actual Baptism can happen when they are catechumens. Read up on it before you decide. Besides all the theology, keep in mind God can do all He wills and isn’t bound by the “rules” we are expected to keep regarding Baptisms. Those rules apply to us and are honored by Him, but since He is there Author, He can suspend them as He will. God is omnipotent and can do all He wills, bestowing mercy on whoever He wills, whenever He wills and withholding as He will as well. God is after all, well, God. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  44. ginnyfree says:

    Very nice Tom Cat. Will you ever lend your tail to try my better mouse trap? It shouldn’t hurt much……..honest. God bless. Ginnyfree.

  45. johnhenrycn says:

    I hope (and like to think) you’re right, GF.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s