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Musings 2006/213

Limbo from the pulpit
As happened with the mass media some Priests have also allowed that Limbo no longer exists. The following quotation given recently by a Parish Priest, gives example:-
P The recent document from the International Theological Commission authorized by the Pope finally officially declares that "Limbo" reflects "an unduly restrictive view of salvation". This is nothing new. It was never a doctrine of the Church and is not taught in the Catechism. Some people did want it defined as a doctrine but that idea was rejected. P
This and other suggestive comments can lead to only one conclusion by his congregation, for the most part, i.e. that Limbo is now discarded once and for all by The Church.
The Actual Document:- The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptized (I will include the full document in he next issue)
I have finally obtained a copy of this document through EWTN (Library Documents) - with gratitude - and I note with interest, a further quotation from Clause 41:-

P These other ways are not achieved by modifying the principles of the faith or by elaborating hypothetical theories; rather, they

seek an integration and coherent reconciliation
of the principles of the faith
under the guidance of the ecclesial Magisterium

by giving more weight to God's universal salvific will and to solidarity in Christ (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 22) in order to account for the hope that infants dying without baptism could enjoy eternal life in the beatific vision.
In keeping with a methodological principle that what is less known must be investigated by way of what is better known, it appears that

the point of departure for considering the destiny
of these children should be the salvific will of God,
the mediation of Christ
and the gift of the Holy Spirit. P

There is some indication here that The Church might look again at Limbo and the unbaptised with a new optomistic view and in clause 7 there is further suggestion:-

It can be asked whether the infant who dies without baptism
but for whom
the church in its prayer
expresses the desire for salvation
can be deprived of the vision of God
even without his or her cooperation.

Do these statements not suggest even if unintentionally, exactly what I have been advocating. This is further supported:-

9. (v) The church must make "supplications, prayers and intercessions... for all" (1 Tm 2:1-8), based on faith that for God's creative power "nothing is impossible" (Jb 42:2; Mk 10:27; 12:24,27; Lk 1:37) and on the hope that the whole creation will finally share in the glory of God (cf. Rom 8:22-27).

Here the ITC looks at Scripture - where it acknowledges that the matter of the fate of the unbaptised children is given little mention - but the ITC here considers various scriptural teachings that give hope for them.
Indeed, the ITC consistently expresses the hope for salvation for unbaptised infants through God's Mercy and through
the intervention of The Church and I quote clause 42:-
As Vatican II affirms: "In Catholic doctrine there exists an order or 'hierarchy' of truths since they vary in their relation to the foundation of the Christian faith" (Unitatis Redintegratio, 11).
No human being can ultimately save him/herself. Salvation comes only from God the Father through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit. This fundamental truth (of the "absolute necessity" of God's saving act toward human beings) is

unfolded in history
through the mediation of the church
and its sacramental ministry.

Again and again the ITC appeals to God's Mercy in salvation and the authority of The Church in this.
And there are hints from page to page, that The Church definitely has authority in this matter - indeed, the very Power of Christ. E.g.:
82. The need for the sacrament is not absolute. What is absolute is humanity's need for the Nurserymen which is Christ himself. All salvation comes from him and therefore, in some way, through the church.
(I note in passing - this very, very bold statement that the need for the sacrament is not absolute. The ITC here makes a statement that breaks into new boundaries or so it seems to me - uncomfortable boundaries.)
I would have thought that the Sacraments, all instituted by Christ Himself, are absolute. We know that God is capable of anything He chooses to do, but I am convinced that He maintains His Power within the boundaries He has set in creation and in salvation.
Further, I would have thought that The Church, just as She proclaimed in the matter of Purgatory, could make proclamations regarding the Souls in Purgatory
and not excluding the use of The Sacraments as we know them. That is to say, The Church could extend the power of The Sacraments to Limbo, just as She approved the offering of Holy Mass for the Souls in Purgatory.
At Death
The ITC - in my view - is working on the assumption that, at death, the soul of a person is forever static; that is, it is impossible thereafter to change. The ITC therefore, in seeking ways by which the unbaptised infants may be saved,

concentrates on the possibilities before death.

It therefore places a heavy burden on itself and, I think, directs its very great talents away from the essence of the question.
Herein, I think a change of attitude is required.
Limbo before Christ, consisted of souls who awaited Christ's Coming for their release and, even though they were not baptised, they went with Christ into Glory.

It was only after death that they gained access to Eternal-life.

The souls in Purgatory also, while not in a state of perfection at death, gained that perfection after death and finally, enter Eternal-life.

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