With all of the intellectual dishonestly on the part of so-called "traditional Catholics" regarding the recent statements from the International Theological Commission (ITC) (a bunch of intellectuals who got together and said, "Well, we don't believe in that..."), it is high-time for someone to state, explicitly, what the Ordinary and Supreme Magisterium of the Holy Roman Catholic & Apostolic Church teaches on the fate of infants who die without Baptism:
They do not go to Heaven. This is at least theologically certain; this has always been at least theologically certain, at least as far as the "common opinion" was concerned. (It is de fide that those who "dying in original sin alone" are forever excluded from Heaven, the Beatific Vision.) What has been in the realm of theological opinion is where, exactly, do these infants go. That they do not go to Heaven has never been the issue; they don't. Where exactly, then, do they go? There have been two opinions on this:
1) Infants who die without Baptism go to the Hell of Suffering. This is the view of Saint Augustine, who taught that infants would go to Hell proper but would only experience the "mildest of punishments," such that they would want to continue to exist, as compared to some of the other damned who might prefer annihilation. This view constituted the universal and common teaching of the Church, Popes and theologians included, for 800 hundred years, and as such, it is almost certainly de fide.
2) Infants who die without Baptism go to the Hell of Separation. This is the view of Saint Thomas Aquinas, the Church's principle theologian, who taught that such infants would also go to Hell proper but would experience no "pain of the senses" and would instead enjoy a natural happiness for all time and eternity. Some theologians after Saint Thomas postulated that such infants would enjoy a perfect natural happiness for all eternity. Thomas' view gained widespread acceptance, only to be abandoned by "dissenters" in subsequent centuries, and was never formally endorsed by any Pope and/or Church Council.
The regional Council of Carthage infallibly pronounced on the fate of infants who die without Baptism:
“It has been decided likewise that if anyone says that for this reason the Lord said: 'In my house there are many mansions': that it might be understood that in the kingdom of heaven there will be some middle place or some place anywhere where happy infants live who departed from this life without baptism, without which they cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven, which is life eternal, let him be anathema. For when the Lord says: 'Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he shall not enter into the kingdom of God' [John 3:5], what Catholic will doubt that he will be a partner of the devil who has not deserved to be a coheir of Christ?" (Pope Zosimus at the Council of Carthage XVI, Canon 3, Denzinger, 30th edition, p.45, note 2).
Now some claim that the Council of Carthage, being a regional Council of the Church, was not infallible. However, St. Pope Zosimus published Carthage’s canons as his own, which made them infallible and binding upon the universal Church. This is referred to in the Council of Ephesus. Pope Zosimus’ Tractoria was sent to the whole world:
“Pope Zosimus of blessed memory directs us, when writing to the bishops of the whole world.” (Ephesus; Denzinger 134)
“We[Zozimus], however, by the inspiration of God have referred all things to that of our brothers and co-bishops.” (Ephesus; Denzinger 134)
“The same teacher Zosimus trained us, who, when he spoke to the bishops of the whole world.” (Ephesus; Denzinger 135)
This is the beginning of his Tractoria and it tells us all things are referred to the African bishops, which is why the Council of Carthage received this great praise:
“Furthermore that which was determined in the decrees of the synod of Carthage [418 AD], we have embraced as the Apostolic See’s own.” (Ephesus; Denzinger 136), and,
“But although we do not dare to esteem lightly the deeper and more difficult parts of the questions which they [Augustine and Zozimus] have treated in more detail who have restrained the heretics, we do not consider it necessary to add what their writings, according to the aforementioned regulation of the Apostolic See, have taught us.” (Ephesus; Denzinger 142)
What about #1261 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church?
What about it? The CCC changes nothing nor could it ever do so (it would be equivalent to claiming 2 + 2 = 5), no matter how ambiguously it sometimes expresses the Catholic Faith. Many so-called "authorities" claim that the CCC never talks about Limbo; not true, 'Limbo' appears in the Index. And, its sole reference is #1261. Are we "allowed to have hope" that the Blessed Virgin Mary was not conceived without original sin??? Paragraph 1261, as was perhaps the "non-public" intent of Pope John Paul II (who promulgated the Catechism), may refer to Limbo and the "way of salvation" would be salvation from the Hell of Suffering. In that respect, our Lord Jesus Christ's words certainly "allow us to hope" that children who die without Baptism escape the Hell of Suffering, instead passing into the Hell of Separation, even if the latter, per Saint Augustine, would involve the "mildest of punishments."
If the Pope told you that Paris, France no longer existed, would you believe him? How about the North American continent? Or Planet Earth? Yet, that is precisely how the press reacted to the Pope's supposed "approval" of the ITC's report. Limbo, the uppermost level of Hell exists, just as Paris, France exists. Pope Pius VI was quite explicit about this fact:
“The doctrine which rejects as a Pelagian fable that place of the lower regions (which the faithful generally designate by the name Limbo of the Children) in which the souls of those departing with the sole guilt of original sin are punished with the punishment of the condemned, exclusive of fire, just as if by this very fact, that those who remove the punishment of fire introduced that middle place and state, free of guilt and punishment between the kingdom of God and eternal damnation, such as that about which the Pelagians idly talk: Condemned as false, rash, injurious to Catholic schools (Denz. 1526).”
Note the tense of the Pope's verb "departing." If I say, "I am riding my bike," what does that mean? Do not I mean that I am riding a bicycle? Unless I am lying, I could only mean what I say, that is, I am riding a bike. If I "text" that message to you, you can be assured that I am riding a bike, especially, if you receive my message within a minute or two of me sending it. At least you can be assured that I was riding a bike, unless, of course, I am lying.
The same is true of what Pope Pius VI declared -- not all children who end this life without sacramental Baptism in Water will go to Heaven. Some will (and have) go to Heaven, such as those who were martyred for Christ; others will be excluded from Heaven.
Perhaps #1261 is just making an historical observation?
This seems reasonable. The 16th-century theologian Cardinal Thomas Cajetan, in his commentary on Thomas' Summa, stated,
"that children still within the womb of their mother are able to be saved . . . through the sacrament of baptism that is received, not in reality, but in the desire of the parents."A century earlier Jean Gerson, a prominent theologian, stated at the Council of Constance,
"women great with child, and their husbands, to use their prayers for their infant that is not yet born, that (if it be to die before it come to the grace of baptism with water) the Lord Jesus would vouchsafe to sanctify it beforehand with the baptism of his holy Spirit. Nay, who would not devoutly hope, that he will not despise the prayer of his humble servants that trust in him? This consideration is useful to raise devotion in the parents, and to ease their trouble of mind, if the child die without baptism; forasmuch as all hope is not taken away. But yet there is, I confess, no certainty exists without a revelation."Neither Cajetan nor Gerson were condemned by the Church, although, the former had his opinions on infants who die without Baptism expunged by Pope St. Pius V. Nonetheless, Cardinal Cajetan was never formally censored, brought before the Roman Inquisition (as would occur with Galileo), forced to recant his views, burned alive at the stake for heresy, etc. No, instead, both he and Gerson ended their lives in full communion with the Church and with a full Mass of Christian Burial. With respect to infants dying without sacramental Baptism, both men were "allowed to hope," and to do so publicly.
St. Bernard of Clairvaux, a 12th-century theologian and a Doctor of the Church, wrote to a couple who had suffered a miscarriage,
“Your faith spoke for this child. Baptism for this child was only delayed by time. Your faith suffices. The waters of your womb — were they not the waters of life for this child? Look at your tears. Are they not like the waters of baptism? Do not fear this. God’s ability to love is greater than our fears. Surrender everything to God.”Saint Thomas Aquinas also stated,
“Children while in the mother’s womb have not yet come forth into the world to live among other men. Consequently they cannot be subject to the action of man, so as to receive the sacrament, at the hands of man, unto salvation. They can, however, be subject to the action of God, in Whose sight they live, so as, by a kind of privilege, to receive the grace of sanctification; as was the case with those who were sanctified in the womb.” (Summa Theologica IIIa, q.68, a.11, ad 1)However, Saint Thomas also taught,
"Those who are sanctified in the womb, receive indeed grace which cleanses them from original sin, but they do not therefore receive the character, by which they are conformed to Christ. Consequently, if any were to be sanctified in the womb now, they would need to be baptized, in order to be conformed to Christ’s other members by receiving the character." (Summa Theologica IIIa q.68, a.1, ad 3)St. Ambrose likewise states that,
"Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." No one is excepted, not the infant, not the one prevented by some necessity. They may, however, have an undisclosed exemption from punishments; but I do not know whether they have the honor of the kingdom."Perhaps this is why the Council of Carthage did not include the word "sacrament" (or, "sacramental," "sacrament of," etc.) in their definition, although, in directly referencing John 3:5, the Council is clearing implying Baptism in Water. Finally, consider what happened to Saint Jehanne la Pucelle (aka, "Joan of Arc"):
Trial of Condemnation -- Sixth Session, March 3, 1431:The above testimony would reconcile #1261 with Catholic Tradition, in that we are "allowed to hope" that children who die without Baptism do, in fact, die with Baptism, if only by a miracle.
Asked what was the age of the child at Lagny that she went to see,
She replied: The baby was three days old. And it was brought to Lagny to Notre Dame. And she was told that the maidens of the town were before [the statue of] Our Lady; and that she might like to go and pray to God and Our Lady that it might live. And she went there and prayed to God with the others. And finally life appeared in it, and it yawned three times; then it was baptised and immediately after died, and was buried in consecrated ground. For three days, they said, no life had appeared in the child; and it was as black as her tunic. But when it yawned, the colour began to come back. And she was with the maidens on her knees in front of [the statue of] Our Lady, offering prayers.
Asked if it were not said by the town that she had brought this about, and that it was by her intercession,
She replied: I never inquired.
Is #1261 offering "good hope"?
Certainly not. As I have pointed out above, #1261 is not even listed in the "Heaven" section in the CCC's Index. The 1983 Code of Canon Law is, however, extensively referenced in the CCC, which has this to say:
Can. 868 §1. For an infant to be baptized licitly:If #1261 could be read as offering "good hope" let alone "certain hope," for an infant who dies without sacramental Baptism, then Canon 868 §2 would be a sin against charity, Canon 870 would be presumptuous, and Canon 871 would be unnecessary. Note also the Code's reference to a "founded hope," an adjective that is altogether lacking in paragraph #1261. Anyone who claims that whenever the Church speaks of "hope" that somehow such a concept is monolithic is definitively not reading all the texts. Clearly, there are "degrees" of "hope".
1º the parents or at least one of them or the person who legitimately takes their place must consent;
2º there must be a founded hope that the infant will be brought up in the Catholic religion; if such hope is altogether lacking, the baptism is to be delayed according to the prescripts of particular law after the parents have been advised about the reason.
§2. An infant of Catholic parents or even of non-Catholic parents is baptized licitly in danger of death even against the will of the parents.
Can. 870 An abandoned infant or a foundling is to be baptized unless after diligent investigation the baptism of the infant is established.
Can. 871 If aborted fetuses are alive, they are to be baptized insofar as possible.
Consider also Pope Pius IX's Syllabus of Errors:
Condemned Error: 17. Good hope at least is to be entertained of the eternal salvation of all those who are not at all in the true Church of Christ. -- Encyclical "Quanto conficiamur," Aug. 10, 1863, etc.sNow, the 1983 Code of Canon Law:
Can. 1183 §1. When it concerns funerals, catechumens must be counted among the Christian faithful.
§2. The local ordinary can permit children whom the parents intended to baptize but who died before baptism to be given ecclesiastical funerals.
§3. In the prudent judgment of the local ordinary, ecclesiastical funerals can be granted to baptized persons who are enrolled in a non-Catholic Church or ecclesial community unless their intention is evidently to the contrary and provided that their own minister is not available.So, it is the "faith of the parents" which is necessary for an infant who has died without Baptism to have a Mass of Christian Burial.
Finally, consider Paragraphs #403, #405, #1250, and #1263 in the CCC:
403 Following St. Paul, the Church has always taught that the overwhelming misery which oppresses men and their inclination towards evil and death cannot be understood apart from their connection with Adam's sin and the fact that he has transmitted to us a sin with which we are all born afflicted, a sin which is the "death of the soul". Because of this certainty of faith, the Church baptizes for the remission of sins even tiny infants who have not committed personal sin.
405 Although it is proper to each individual, original sin does not have the character of a personal fault in any of Adam's descendants. It is a deprivation of original holiness and justice, but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it, subject to ignorance, suffering and the dominion of death, and inclined to sin - an inclination to evil that is called "concupiscence". Baptism, by imparting the life of Christ's grace, erases original sin and turns a man back towards God, but the consequences for nature, weakened and inclined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle.
1250 Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin, children also have need of the new birth in Baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God, to which all men are called. The sheer gratuitousness of the grace of salvation is particularly manifest in infant Baptism. The Church and the parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer Baptism shortly after birth.
1263 By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin. In those who have been reborn nothing remains that would impede their entry into the Kingdom of God, neither Adam's sin, nor personal sin, nor the consequences of sin, the gravest of which is separation from God.The Catechism does not contain all of the Catholic Church's teachings.
At least not directly. On the other hand, the authors of the Catechism never claimed that they were going to teach everything which the Catholic Church proposes as divinely revealed Truth. Consider the following:
Also, the souls of those who have incurred no stain of sin whatsoever after baptism, as well as souls who after incurring the stain of sin have been cleansed whether in their bodies or outside their bodies, as was stated above, are straightaway received into heaven and clearly behold the triune God as he is, yet one person more perfectly than another according to the difference of their merits. But the souls of those who depart this life in actual mortal sin, or in original sin alone, go down straightaway to hell to be punished, but with unequal pains. We also define that the holy apostolic see and the Roman pontiff holds the primacy over the whole world and the Roman pontiff is the successor of blessed Peter prince of the apostles, and that he is the true vicar of Christ, the head of the whole church and the father and teacher of all Christians, and to him was committed in blessed Peter the full power of tending, ruling and governing the whole church, as is contained also in the acts of ecumenical councils and in the sacred canons. (Council of Florence)Which was reiterated in the Roman Catechism:
And if the possession of a spacious and magnificent mansion contributes to human happiness, what more spacious, what more magnificent, can be conceived than heaven itself, which is illumined throughout with the brightness of God ? Hence the Prophet, contemplating the beauty of this dwellingplace, and burning with the desire of reaching those mansions of bliss, exclaims: How lovely are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! my soul longeth and fainteth for the courts of the Lord. My heart and my flesh have rejoiced in the living God. That the faithful may be all filled with the same sentiments and utter the same language should be the object of the pastor's most earnest desires, as it should also be of his zealous labours. For in my Father's house, says our Lord, there are many mansions," in which shall be distributed rewards of greater and of less value according to each one's deserts. He who soweth sparingly, shall also reap sparingly: and he who soweth in blessings, shall also reap blessings.Find the above teaching in the current Catechism. (If you do, email me!) It's "hinted" at, yes (such as in #1021), but nowhere will you find even a single paragraph devoted to it, which is ironic considering the present Catechism's propensity to repeat itself. More to the point, just because the Limbo of the Children is not mentioned in the Catechism of the Catholic Church is hardly proof that it was (and is) not authentic Church teaching. The ITC was lame to use this "argument." Likewise, one cannot find any mention of indulgences in the Roman Catechism, the Church's first universal catechism; by the logic of the ITC's "argument from silence," we should suppose that the Catholic Church's teachings on indulgences is not authentic, even though such is taught explicitly in the present CCC!
Paragraph 1261 -- What it did not say.
Here it is:
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.The CCC states "allow us to hope..." It could have said "give us hope" or even "give us certain hope," "sure hope," "obliged to hope," etc. Don't read into the text words that are not there and note the lack of any footnotes for that paragraph even to the text of the Summa, which is unusual given the Catechism's copious references. Even if "a way of salvation" exists "for children who have died without Baptism," that would not mean that all such children are, in the end, saved; a "way of salvation" exists for adults, and if you look elsewhere on this blog, it will be clear that not all of them will (or have) been saved.
Note the text from #1261 in bold, which the ITC decided not to include in their 38-page report to the Pope. Now, if all unbaptized children, in fact, go to Heaven, "what's the urgency here?" On the other hand, if one reads #1261 in light of #1250, then it is clear that, in delaying the sacramental Baptism of a newborn baby especially out of neglect and/or contempt of the Sacrament, one could very well exclude that child from Heaven forever. Such has always been the universal teaching of the Church. Besides, if one were to believe that #1261 was teaching that all children who die without Baptism were destined for Heaven, one would be forced to conclude that #1250 & #1263 were teaching "null sets" devoid of any human beings; one would also be forced to conclude that "not to prevent little children coming to Christ" was just some "hypothetical" teaching which has no basis in reality, as it is "impossible" for it (i.e., "children coming to Christ") to ever not occur in the real World. Which brings me to my next point...
Null set theology, anyone?
The Council of Florence stated,
Also, the souls of those who have incurred no stain of sin whatsoever after baptism, as well as souls who after incurring the stain of sin have been cleansed whether in their bodies or outside their bodies, as was stated above, are straightaway received into heaven and clearly behold the triune God as he is, yet one person more perfectly than another according to the difference of their merits. But the souls of those who depart this life in actual mortal sin, or in original sin alone, go down straightaway to hell to be punished, but with unequal pains. We also define that the holy apostolic see and the Roman pontiff holds the primacy over the whole world and the Roman pontiff is the successor of blessed Peter prince of the apostles, and that he is the true vicar of Christ, the head of the whole church and the father and teacher of all Christians, and to him was committed in blessed Peter the full power of tending, ruling and governing the whole church, as is contained also in the acts of ecumenical councils and in the sacred canons.To say that all infants who die without Baptism are saved would be to say that the Council of Florence taught something which, in fact, never happens.
Saint Augustine vs. Saint Aquinas.
Without a doubt, Saint Augustine was of the clear understanding that infants who die without Baptism are forever destined to the Hell of Suffering, which means that they are destined to suffer some positive punishment for all time and Eternity, no matter how mild that punishment is going to be. It is also a historical fact that Saint Augustine's teachings and those of Carthage went undisputed within Catholic theology for 800 hundred years (with a handful of exceptions, such as St. Isaac the Syrian), until the time of the Medieval scholastics, when theologians began to abandon the near-universal and common teaching of Saint Augustine and Carthage. Given these facts and Saint Augustine's intimate proximity to the Council of Carthage, it is clear that his view may be the de fide dogma of the Roman Catholic Church, and the scholastics, while having the best of intentions, may have simply erred. (They are, after all, human, aren't they?)
Does this mean that Saint Thomas was wrong? No, not really. Just as Saint Thomas did not have a perfect understanding of the Blessed Virgin Mary's sinless nature, so too, the great Angelic Doctor embraced some theological positions that were later shown to be contrary to the defined dogmas of the Church, although, he did not see his ideas as such. (Hindsight is, after all, 20/20.) Still, Saint Thomas is an authority on many things, just not on all things.
Could it be that the Hell of Separation involves the mildest of the mildest positive punishments, that it is, for all practical purposes, the Limbo envisioned by Saint Thomas? Such seems like a reasonable possibility. After all, Saint Augustine and the Council of Carthage taught that unbaptized infants would be condemned to the Hell of Suffering, but they never defined how much suffering would occur for those unbaptized infants over the course of Eternity, and Saint Augustine made it clear that such infants still want to continue to exist.
While the infallible teaching of the Council of Carthage may be difficult for some to accept, such does nothing to change its immutable truths. Ultimately, "What is, is."
Additional Magisterial statements on the fate of infants who die without Baptism.
“But that which Your Fraternity asserts the Pelagians preach, that even without the grace of Baptism infants are able to be endowed with the rewards of eternal life, is quite idiotic.” (Pope St. Innocent, 414)Note that Pope Innocent was the Pope who confirmed the canons of Carthage which I quoted above. Note that he used the phrase "grace of Baptism," as opposed to the "sacrament of Baptism," a phrase which Saint Augustine used. Still, was he implying that all infants who die without sacramental Baptism go to Heaven? (Almost certainly not.) Continuing,
“Anyone who would say that even infants who pass from this life without participation in the Sacrament [of Baptism] shall be made alive in Christ truly goes counter to the preaching of the Apostle and condemns the whole Church, where there is great haste in baptizing infants because it is believed without doubt that there is no other way at all in which they can be made alive in Christ.” (St. Augustine, Letter to Jerome, 415)
“Therefore just as we declare that respect for the Easter sacrifice [Paschal time] should not be lessened in the case of any person, in like manner we wish help to be brought with all speed to children who because of their age cannot yet speak, and to those who in any emergency are in need of the water of holy baptism, lest it should lead to the destruction of our souls if, by refusing the water of salvation to those who desire it, each of them, when taking leave of this world, should lose both the kingdom and life. Indeed whoever suffers the peril of shipwreck, an enemy attack, the danger of siege or desperation resulting from some bodily infirmity, and so asks for what in their faith is their only help, let them receive at the moment of their request the reward of regeneration that they beg for. This much should suffice for my digression on this subject; now let all priests who do not wish to be wrenched from the firmly-fixed rock of the apostles, on which Christ built his universal church, hold fast to the aforesaid rule.” (Pope St. Siricius, 385)
"The quality of an evil life begins with lack of faith, which takes its beginnings from the guilt of original sin. In it, each one begins to live in such a way that, before he ends his life, which is ended when freed from its bonds, if that soul has lived in the body for the space of one day or one hour, it is necessary that it suffer with that same body the endless punishments of Hell, where the devil with his angles will burn forever. […] Hold most firmly and never doubt that, not only adults with the use of reason but also children who either begin to live in the womb of their mothers and who die there or, already born from their mothers, pass from this world without the sacrament of holy baptism, must be punished with the endless penalty of eternal fire. Even if they have no sin from their actions, still, by their carnal conception and birth, they have contracted the damnation of original sin." (St. Fulgentius, To Peter on the Faith 36, 70)
As stated above (Article 6), Christ's descent into hell had its effect of deliverance on them only who through faith and charity were united to Christ's Passion, in virtue whereof Christ's descent into hell was one of deliverance. But the children who had died in original sin were in no way united to Christ's Passion by faith and love: for, not having the use of free will, they could have no faith of their own; nor were they cleansed from original sin either by their parents' faith or by any sacrament of faith. Consequently, Christ's descent into hell did not deliver the children from thence. And furthermore, the holy Fathers were delivered from hell by being admitted to the glory of the vision of God, to which no one can come except through grace; according to Romans 6:23: "The grace of God is life everlasting." Therefore, since children dying in original sin had no grace, they were not delivered from hell. (Summa Theologica III, q.52, a.7)
"It is due to the mercy of Him “Who will have all men to be saved” (1 Tim. 2:4) that in those things which are necessary for salvation, man can easily find the remedy. Now the most necessary among all the sacraments is Baptism, which is man’s regeneration unto spiritual life: since for children there is no substitute, while adults cannot otherwise than by Baptism receive a full remission both of guilt and of its punishment. Consequently, lest man should have to go without so necessary a remedy, it was ordained, both that the matter of Baptism should be something common that is easily obtainable by all, i.e. water; and that the minister of Baptism should be anyone, even not in orders, lest from lack of being baptized, man should suffer loss of his salvation." (Summa Theologica IIIa, q.67, a.3)
The limbo of the Fathers and the limbo of children, without any doubt, differ as to the quality of punishment or reward. For children have no hope of the blessed life, as the Fathers in limbo had, in whom, moreover, shone forth the light of faith and grace. But as regards their situation, there is reason to believe that the place of both is the same; except that the limbo of the Fathers is placed higher than the limbo of children, just as we have stated in reference to limbo and hell (a. 5). (Summa Theologica Suppl., q.69, a.6)
Unbaptized children are not detained in limbo save because they lack the state of grace. Hence, since the state of the dead cannot be changed by the works of the living, especially as regards the merit of the essential reward or punishment, the suffrages of the living cannot profit the children in limbo. (Summa Theologica Suppl., q.71, a.7)
Although original sin is such that one person can be assisted by another on its account, nevertheless the souls of the children in limbo are in such a state that they cannot be assisted, because after this life there is no time for obtaining grace. (Summa Theologica Suppl., q.71, a.7, ad 1)
Although unbaptized children are separated from God as regards the union of glory, they are not utterly separated from Him: in fact they are united to Him by their share of natural goods, and so will also be able to rejoice in Him by their natural knowledge and love. (Summa Theologica App. 1, q.1, a.2, ad 5)Clearly, for Saint Thomas Aquinas, the Church's principle theologian, the Limbo of the Children was something more than just some theological "hypothesis" and/or "null set." For Saint Thomas, the Limbo of the Children was an actual place populated by actual souls. No one (and I mean, no one) contested Saint Thomas' teachings that there were children who were excluded from Heaven, the Beatific Vision, for want of sacramental Baptism in Water. Here is what the 1983 Code of Canon Law has to say about the teachings of Saint Thomas:
Can. 252 §1. Theological instruction is to be imparted in the light of faith and under the leadership of the magisterium in such a way that the students understand the entire Catholic doctrine grounded in divine revelation, gain nourishment for their own spiritual life, and are able properly to announce and safeguard it in the exercise of the ministry.Since Saint Thomas taught the existence of Limbo as an actual place with actual souls, we ought to be doing the same.
§2. Students are to be instructed in sacred scripture with special diligence in such a way that they acquire a comprehensive view of the whole of sacred scripture.
§3. There are to be classes in dogmatic theology, always grounded in the written word of God together with sacred tradition; through these, students are to learn to penetrate more intimately the mysteries of salvation, especially with St. Thomas as a teacher. There are also to be classes in moral and pastoral theology, canon law, liturgy, ecclesiastical history, and other auxiliary and special disciplines, according to the norm of the prescripts of the program of priestly formation.
Condemned: “Those who claim that the children of the faithful dying without sacramental baptism will not be saved, are stupid and presumptuous in saying this.” (Pope Martin V, Council of Constance, Session 15, July 6, 1415 -- Condemning the articles of John Wyclif, Proposition 6)Note that the Council of Constance could have said, "The children of the faithful dying without sacramental baptism will be saved." Simpler and shorter! But still, was the Council of Constance teaching the existence of a "null set"?? (No.) Continuing,
"With regard to children, since the danger of death is often present and the only remedy available to them is the sacrament of baptism by which they are snatched away from the dominion of the devil and adopted as children of God, it admonishes that sacred baptism is not to be deferred for forty or eighty days or any other period of time in accordance with the usage of some people, but it should be conferred as soon as it conveniently can; and if there is imminent danger of death, the child should be baptized straightaway without any delay, even by a lay man or a woman in the form of the church, if there is no priest, as is contained more fully in the decree on the Armenians." (Council of Florence)Note that an alternate (and, more literal) translation to the above is:
"Regarding children, indeed, because of danger of death, which can often take place, when no help can be brought to them by another remedy than through the sacrament of baptism, through which they are snatched from the domination of the devil and adopted among the sons of God..."Is Florence implying "another remedy"? A "null set"? Continuing,
Pope Paul III, The Council of Trent, On Original Sin, Session V, ex cathedra: “If anyone says that recently born babies should not be baptized even if they have been born to baptized parents; or says that they are indeed baptized for the remission of sins, but incur no trace of the original sin of Adam needing to be cleansed by the laver of rebirth for them to obtain eternal life, with the necessary consequence that in their case there is being understood a form of baptism for the remission of sins which is not true, but false: let him be anathema.” (Denz. 791)Trent could have said, "If anyone says that infants who die without sacramental Baptism in Water will be saved, let him be anathema." Much simpler and shorter. Continuing,
"The faithful are earnestly to be exhorted to take care that their children be brought to the church, as soon as it can be done with safety, to receive solemn Baptism. Since infant children have no other means of salvation except Baptism, we may easily understand how grievously those persons sin who permit them to remain without the grace of the Sacrament longer than necessity may require, particularly at an age so tender as to be exposed to numberless dangers of death." (Catechism of Trent)"Baptism" is unqualified, as with the Council of Carthage. The Roman Catechism could have said "sacramental," "sacrament of," "in Water," etc. to qualify Baptism, or even repeat the adjective "solemn." They could have also deleted the "grace of the" phrase, which would have emphasized "the Sacrament" as being the only means of salvation for infants. Note also the phrases "with safety" and "necessity may require"; clearly, the "house is not on fire" here. But, once again, was the Catechism teaching that all children who die without sacramental Baptism go to Heaven? It is just plain silly to say that. Read the words.
The current Catechism states this about the Roman Catechism:
9 "The ministry of catechesis draws ever fresh energy from the councils. The Council of Trent is a noteworthy example of this. It gave catechesis priority in its constitutions and decrees. It lies at the origin of the Roman Catechism, which is also known by the name of that council and which is a work of the first rank as a summary of Christian teaching. . . ." The Council of Trent initiated a remarkable organization of the Church's catechesis. Thanks to the work of holy bishops and theologians such as St. Peter Canisius, St. Charles Borromeo, St. Turibius of Mongrovejo or St. Robert Bellarmine, it occasioned the publication of numerous catechisms.Continuing,
"Calvin says that infants born of parents who have the faith are saved, even though they should die without Baptism. But this is false: for David was born of parents who had the faith, and he confessed that he was born in sin. This was also taught by the Council of Trent in the Fifth Session, number Four: there the fathers declared that infants dying without Baptism, although born of baptized parents, are not saved, and are lost, not on account of the sin of their parents, but for the sin of Adam in whom all have sinned." (St. Alphonsus Maria Liguori, Explanation of Trent)Trent does not say this, although, the Council certainly could have meant this. They could have, in a few short words stated "that infants who die without sacramental Baptism do not go to Heaven." Note, once again, how St. Alphonsus did not qualify "Baptism" with "sacrament," "sacrament of," "in Water," etc. Continuing,
1891 Baltimore Catechism
Q. 632. Where will persons go who -- such as infants -- have not committed actual sin and who, through no fault of theirs, die without baptism?
A. Persons, such as infants, who have not committed actual sin and who, through no fault of theirs, die without baptism, cannot enter heaven; but it is the common belief they will go to some place similar to Limbo, where they will be free from suffering, though deprived of the happiness of heaven.
Q. 642. Is it wrong to defer the baptism of an infant?
A. It is wrong to defer the baptism of an infant, because we thereby expose the child to the danger of dying without the Sacrament.Once again, the phrase "die without baptism" is unqualified; the catechism could have added, as before, "sacrament of," "sacramental," "in water," etc. to qualify the word "baptism." Indeed, the Baltimore Catechism states,
Q. 321. How can those be saved who through no fault of their own have not received the sacrament of Baptism?
A. Those who through no fault of their own have not received the sacrament of Baptism can be saved through what is called baptism of blood or baptism of desire.
Q. 322. How does an unbaptized person receive the baptism of blood?
A. An unbaptized person receives the baptism of blood when he suffers martyrdom for the faith of Christ.
Greater love than this no one has, that one lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)Presumably, the above would apply to unbaptized infants, also, but once again, it is extremely unlikely that the Baltimore Catechism was teaching the existence of a "null set". Continuing,
Pope Pius X Catechism
11 Q. When should infants be brought to the Church to be baptized?
A. Infants should be brought to the Church to be baptized as soon as possible.
12 Q. Why such anxiety to have infants receive Baptism?
A. There should be the greatest anxiety to have infants baptized because, on account of their tender age, they are exposed to many dangers of death, and cannot be saved without Baptism.
13 Q. Do parents sin, then, who, through negligence, allow their children to die without Baptism, or who defer it?
A. Yes, fathers and mothers who, through negligence, allow their children to die without Baptism sin grievously, because they deprive their children of eternal life; and they also sin grievously by putting off Baptism for a long time, because they expose them to danger of dying without having received it.
17 Q. Can the absence of Baptism be supplied in any other way?Once again, the noun "Baptism" is unqualified, but it is clear that, in capitalizing "Baptism," Saint Pope Pius X is talking about sacramental Baptism, and is, apparently, teaching that negligence (and, presumably, abortion) would exclude an infant from Heaven. However, he does not exclude infants from Paradise who suffer martyrdom, neither does he rule-out the possibility of "sanctification in the womb." He could have said, "The absence of Baptism can only be supplied..." In fact, later on (Q.19), he states, "Since Jesus Christ is our only mediator with God, why have recourse also to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin and the Saints?" It is equally clear, however, that the saintly Pope was not teaching a "null set" either!
A. The absence of Baptism can be supplied by martyrdom, which is called Baptism of Blood, or by an act of perfect love of God, or of contrition, along with the desire, at least implicit, of Baptism, and this is called Baptism of Desire.
Note that Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, had this to say about the Catechism of St. Pope Pius X (from Wikipedia):
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, when discussing the forthcoming Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church referred to the catechism of Saint Pius X.: “The faith, as such, is always the same. Therefore, St. Pius X's catechism always retains its value, … There can be persons or groups that feel more comfortable with St. Pius X's catechism. ... that Catechism stemmed from a text that was prepared by the Pope himself [Pius X] when he was Bishop of Mantua. The text was the fruit of the personal catechetical experience of Giuseppe Sarto, whose characteristics were simplicity of exposition and depth of content. Also because of this, St. Pius X's catechism might have friends in the future.”Continuing,
"All that we have said about the protection and care of natural life is with even greater reason true of the supernatural life, which the newborn child receives with baptism. In the present dispensation there is no other means of communicating this life to the child, who has not yet the use of reason. And yet the state of grace is absolutely necessary for salvation: without it supernatural happiness, the beatific vision of God, cannot be attained. In an adult an act of love may suffice to obtain him sanctifying grace and so supply for the lack of baptism; to the child still unborn, or newly born, this way is not open. If therefore we remember that charity towards our neighbor obliges us to assist him in case of necessity; that this obligation is graver and more urgent according to the greatness of the good to be procured or the evil to be avoided, and according to the inability of the needy one to help himself; then it is easy to understand the importance of providing for the baptism of a child, devoid of the use of reason and in grave danger or even certainty of death." (Pope Pius XII, Acta Apostolicae Sedis, December 20, 1951, p. 854)Pope Pius XII is, clearly, teaching that "Baptism of Desire" is not available for an infant, but how about martyrdom? He doesn't say. Continuing,
Holy Office under Pope Pius XII -- 1958
"The practice has arisen in some places of delaying the conferring of Baptism for so-called reasons of convenience or of a liturgical nature a practice favored by some opinions, lacking solid foundation, concerning the eternal salvation of infants who die without Baptism. Therefore this Supreme Congregation, with the approval of the Holy Father, warns the faithful that infants are to be baptized as soon as possible..." (Acta L, 114)Again, "Baptism" is unqualified but what would be the point of the Holy Office teaching about things which supposedly "never" happen???
PETER LOMBARD AND THE SACRAMENTAL SYSTEM
IV. That suffering and faith and contrition take the place of baptism.
There are also some, as we said above, who receive the thing and not the sacrament. For those who shed their blood for the name of Jesus, even if they do not receive the sacrament, receive the thing. Wherefore Augustine: "Whoever die for the confession of Christ, even though they have not received the washing of regeneration, yet it suffices to remit their sins, as much as if they were washed in the sacred font of baptism." — You have heard that suffering received for the name of Jesus takes the place of baptism. Not only does suffering take the place of baptism, but also faith and contrition, when necessity prevents the sacrament, as Augustine clearly shows when he says: "The blessed Cyprian, in the fourth book on Baptism, thinks that what was said to the thief who had not been baptized : 'This day shalt thou be with me in paradise,' affords no slight proof that suffering sometimes takes the place of baptism. I have considered this repeatedly and find that not only suffering for the name of Christ, but even faith and turning of heart, can supply what was lacking by baptism, if by chance, owing to the shortness of time, a man cannot be succored by celebrating the mystery of baptism. Nor indeed was that thief crucified for the name of Christ, but for the sake of his crimes ; nor did he suffer, because he believed, but while he suffered, he believed. How much therefore can faith accomplish, even without the sacrament of visible baptism—is shown in the case of that thief, as the Apostle says: 'With the heart we believe unto justice, but with the mouth confession is made unto salvation'; but this is accomplished invisibly, when not contempt for religion, but the pressure of necessity prevents the mystery of baptism." "And certainly baptism can take place when there is no turning of the heart; whereas turning of the heart can exist when baptism has not been received, but it cannot exist when baptism is despised; nor can it in any way be called turning of the heart to God, when the sacrament of God is despised." — So, here you have it, that not only suffering, but also faith and contrition confer remission, where the sacrament is not despised as is shown in the case of that thief, who not by suffering, but by faith was saved without baptism. But some say that Augustine retracted this. He did indeed retract his example but not his opinion. For he says: "When I said iri the fourth book that suffering can take the place of baptism, it was not enough that I mentioned the example of the thief, because it is uncertain that he was not baptized." It is established therefore that without baptism some are justified and saved. wherefore Ambrose on Valentinian : "'My bowels are in pain,' to employ prophetic eloquence, because I have lost him whom I was about to regenerate; yet truly he did not lose the grace, which he sought." But there seems a contradiction to these views in what the Lord says : "Unless a man be born again of water and of the holy Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven."—For if this is generally true, the views expressed above do not seem to be true. But this is to be understood as applied to those who can be baptized and scorn it ; or else it is to be understood thus : unless a man be born again of water and of the holy Spirit, that is, by that regeneration, which is accomplished through water and the holy Spirit, he will not be saved. This regeneration moreover is accomplished not only through baptism, but also through penance and blood. Wherefore, the authority tells us, for this reason the Apostle said that "the foundation of baptism is plural, because there is baptism in water, in blood, and in penance." Moreover he does not say that the sacrament of baptism can be performed only in water, but that its virtue, that is, sanctification, can be given not only through water, but through blood or inner penance. Reason indeed urges this. For if baptism suffices for infants who are not able to believe, much more does faith suffice for adults willing but not able to be baptized. Wherefore Augustine : "Do you ask, which is greater: faith or water; I have no doubt what I should respond: faith. If therefore that which is less can sanctify, does not that which is greater? that is faith, of which Christ says: 'Whoever shall believe on me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.' —But some say that no adult believes on Christ or has charity without baptism, unless he sheds his blood for the Lord, supporting their view with the subjoined testimonies. Augustine says: "From the time that the Saviour said ; 'Unless a man be born again of water and of the holy Spirit' etc., without the sacrament of baptism no one, except those who shed blood in the Church, can receive eternal life." The same : "We believe that no catechumen although dying in good works, has eternal life, except he die in martyrdom whereby the whole sacraments of baptism are completed." The same: "We believe that the way of salvation is only for the baptized."—But the statements he makes less fully here he supplements in the chapters quoted above; and for that reason these passages are to be thus understood, that only those who have time to be baptized and are not, are excepted from salvation. For if anyone having faith and charity wishes to be baptized, and cannot because prevented by necessity, the goodness of the Almighty will supply what has been lacking in the sacrament. For while he can perform it, he is bound, unless he do perform it; but when he is not able, but wishes to do so, God, who has not bound his power to sacraments, does not impute it to him. But that there is invisible sanctification in some without the visible sacrament, Augustine clearly teaches, saying in his commentary on Leviticus, "Invisible sanctification exists and benefits some without visible sacraments; but visible sanctification, which comes from the visible sacraments, can be present, but cannot benefit without the invisible. However the visible sacrament is not for that reason to be despised, because the one who despises it, cannot be invisibly sanctified. Hence Cornelius and those with him were baptized, although already sanctified by the holy Spirit. Nor is the visible sanctificatioh to be judged superfluous, because the invisible preceded it. Therefore the invisible sanctification without the visible can exist and benefit ; but the visible which is caused by the sacrament only, is not able to benefit without the invisible, since therein is its whole utility. Visible baptism did not benefit Simon Magus, because the invisible was lacking; but it benefited those in whom the invisible was present." Nor is another's faith so valuable to an infant, as his own to an adult. For the faith of the Church does not suffice for infants without the sacrament, because, if they die without baptism, even when they are being brought to baptism, they will be damned, as is proved by many authorities of the saints; on this point let one suffice. Augustine : "Maintain firmly that infants who either begin to live in their mothers' wombs, and die there, or born of their mothers pass from this life without the sacrament of baptism, must be punished with eternal torture, because although they have no sins of their own doing, yet they have inherited original sin from their conception in carnal concupiscence." And as infants who die without baptism, are numbered with the infidels, so those who are baptized are called faithful and are not separated from the fellowship of the faithful, when the Church prays for the faithful dead. They are faithful, therefore, not on account of their own virtue, but on account of the sacrament of faith. Wherefore Augustine: "An infant, although he has not yet that faith which depends upon the will of the believers, nevertheless has faith through the sacrament of that faith, that is, baptism ; for as the response is made that he believes, so also he is called faithful, not because he assents to the truth by his own judgment, but because he receives the sacrament of that truth."Master Lombard's words leave little "wiggle room" for the few remaining orthodox theologians within the Catholic Church who do not want to follow individuals such as the late Edward Schillebeeckx down the modernistic "rabbit hole" of Catholic (sic) theology. Still, while Master Lombard acknowledges that "not only does suffering take the place of baptism" for an adult, he is eerily silent on such suffering for an infant. Is he teaching that an expecting mother who was martyred for Christ would go to Heaven but that her 8-month old (or any age, for that matter) baby killed within her would go to Hell into the "eternal torture"? Or, does he believe that, in such cases, "that there is invisible sanctification in some without the visible sacrament"? He doesn't say, only that "the faith of the Church does not suffice for infants without the sacrament". How about the faith of the Mother? He does not say. Still, for him, an infant dying without sacramental Baptism and not going to Heaven is a reality and not some "hypothetical."
And, it was the Fourth Lateran Council that declared:
We, however, with the approval of this sacred and universal council, believe and confess with Peter Lombard that there exists a certain supreme reality, incomprehensible and ineffable, which truly is the Father and the Son and the holy Spirit, the three persons together and each one of them separately.The Great Means of Salvation & Perfection by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, Doctor of the Church
Here it only remains for us to answer the object which is drawn from children being lost when they die before baptism, and before they come to the use of reason. If God wills all to be saved, it is objected, how is it that these children perish without any fault of their own, since God gives them no assistance to attain eternal salvation? There are two answers to this objection, the latter more correct than the former. I will state them briefly.
First, it is answered that God, by antecedent will, wishes all to be saved, and therefore has granted universal means for the salvation of all; but these means at times fail of their effect, either by reason of the unwillingness of some persons to avail themselves of them, or because others are unable to make use of them, on account of secondary causes (such as the death of children), whose course God is not bound to change, after having disposed the whole according to the just judgment of his general Providence; all this is collected from what St. Thomas says. Jesus Christ offered His merits for all men, and instituted baptism for all; but the application of this means of salvation, so far as relates to children who die before the use of reason, is not prevented by the direct will of God, but by a merely permissive will; because as He is the general provider of all things, He is not bound to disturb the general order, to provide for the particular order.
The second answer is, that to perish is not the same as not to be blessed: since eternal happiness is a gift entirely gratuitous; and therefore the want of it is not a punishment. The opinion, therefore, of St. Thomas is very just, that children who die in infancy have neither the pain of sense nor the pain of loss; not the pain of sense, he says, “because pain of sense corresponds to conversion to creatures; and in original sin there is not conversion to creatures” (as the fault is not our own), “and therefore pain of sense is not due to original sin;” because original sin does not imply an act. Objectors oppose to this the teaching of St. Augustine, who in some places shows that his opinion was that children are condemned even to the pain of sense. But in another place he declares that he was very much confused about this point. These are his words: “When I come to the punishment of infants, I find myself (believe me) in great straits; nor can I at all find anything to say.” And in another place he writes that it may be said that such children receive neither reward nor punishment: “Nor need we fear that it is impossible there should be a middle sentence between reward and punishment; since their life was midway between sin and good works.” This was directly affirmed by St. Gregory Nazianzen: “Children will be sentenced by the just Judge neither to the glory of heaven nor to punishment.” St. Gregory of Nyssa was of the same opinion: “The premature death of children shows that they who have thus ceased to live will not be in pain and unhappiness.”
And as far as relates to the pain of loss, although these children are excluded from glory, nevertheless St. Thomas, who had reflected most deeply on this point, teaches that no one feels pain for the want of that good of which he is not capable; so that as no man grieves that he cannot fly, or no private person that he is not emperor, so these children feel no pain at being deprived of the glory of which they were never capable; since they could never pretend to it either by the principles of nature, or by their own merits. St. Thomas adds, in another place, a further reason, which is that the supernatural knowledge of glory comes only by means of actual faith, which transcends all natural knowledge; so that children can never feel pain for the privation of that glory, of which they never had a supernatural knowledge. He further says, in the former passage, that such children will not only not grieve for the loss of eternal happiness, but will, moreover, have pleasure in their natural gifts; and will even in some way enjoy God, so far as is implied in natural knowledge and in natural love: “Rather will they rejoice in this, that they will participate much in the divine goodness, and in natural perfections.” And he immediately adds that although they will be separated from God as regards the union of glory, nevertheless “they will be united with Him by participation of natural gifts; and so will even be able to rejoice in Him with a natural knowledge and love.”This is a great essay, and it "speaks for itself." Doctor de Liguori hits the nail "on its head." The Triune God "wishes all to be saved," yet all may not be, for the very reasons that St. Alphonsus states. The ITC should have included this one in its entirety in their 38-page report to the Pope. As with Master Lombard, however, Doctor de Liguori is silent on the fate of infants who die without sacramental Baptism in Water but who are martyred in the Name of Christ, although, he does affirm the eternal salvation of such infants in his other writings. In my opinion, his is "the Mind" of the Church -- not all infants who die without sacramental Baptism will be lost, but not all will be saved, either.
Catechism of the Summa Theologica by Thomas Pegues, O.P. 1922
XLVIIL OF THE PLACE OF THOSE WHO ARE NOT JUDGED, VIZ., OF THE LIMBO OF INFANTS
(A) Are there any human beings who at the moment of death are not judged?
Yes. All children who die before attaining the age of reason, or those who though adults never had the use of reason (LXIX. 6).
Is there any allotment at all as regards infants and those who have not had the use of reason?
Yes, but this is not by reason of their merits or demerits; and it is not made by way of judgment. It comes about by the fact that some have received baptism and others have not. Those that have received baptism immediately go to heaven; whereas those who have not received this sacrament go to a place reserved for them which is called Limbo.
OF THE LIMBO OF INFANT
(B) Is Limbo distinct from purgatory and hell?
Yes, because these two latter are places where punishment is inflicted for personal sins (LXIX. 6).
Do infants who have died without baptism suffer the pain of loss in Limbo?
Yes, to a certain degree, for they know they are deprived of the vision of God; but this has not the character of torture such as those in hell suffer (Appendix, 1.2).
Whence arises this difference as regards the pain of loss?
It comes from this, that although they know they are deprived of the vision of God, they also know that this is not by reason of any personal sin but by reason of their being born of Adam, who sinned (ibid.).
For them, then, there is no horrible worm that gnaws their souls such as torments the damned in hell?
No. But they live in a state without any kind of suffering or sadness, except that they are conscious of that supreme happiness which would have been theirs had the merits of the redemption been applied to them and which they will never have, not by any fault on their part but because the inscrutable counsels of God have arranged it so (ibid.).
(c) Do the souls of these infants know the mysteries of the redemption?
Have they the light of faith?
No, they have not faith in the sense of that interior supernatural light perfecting the mind whereby in a certain intimate manner it penetrates revealed mysteries and generates in the soul a strong desire towards them; they know these mysteries very much in the same way as those who cannot help but assent to the truth of the divine mysteries revealed by God, but who are not drawn by an impulse of grace to cling supernaturally to these mysteries, and as a consequence they do not penetrate the intimate meaning of them.
Besides this Limbo of the souls of children who die before baptism, is not mention made of another Limbo in the language of the Church?
Yes, it is that Limbo where formerly the just were detained, that is, those in whom there was no personal hindrance as regards entrance into heaven, but who had to await the coming of the Redeemer (LXIX. 7).
Is there anyone now in this Limbo of the just?
Since the day when Jesus Christ at the moment of His death descended there and left it on the day of His Resurrection, bringing with Him all the souls of the just, this place ceased to be occupied by those for whom it was primarily destined; but it may be that since then it is the place where children go who die without baptism, so in this case it would be the same as the Limbo of infants.This catechism is pretty direct -- note the reference to "those who have not received this sacrament." Still, no references to infants who die without sacramental Baptism yet who are martyred in the Name of Christ, at least in the section above. It is clear, however, that, for this catechism at least, Limbo is something more than a "null set" or some "theological hypothesis."
This is what Pope Benedict XV had to say about this Catechism:
We congratulate you sincerely on this fruit of your labours which shows your masterly knowledge of St. Thomas' doctrine. We hope, therefore, through your love of Holy Church that this work will bring many souls to a sound knowledge of Christian doctrine.In the mind of Pope Benedict XV, the Limbo of the Children is more than just a "possible theological hypothesis."
(Note the website!!)
"The whole body of the faithful who have an anointing that comes from the holy one (cf. 1 Jn. 2:20, 27) cannot err in matters of belief. This characteristic is shown in the supernatural appreciation of the faith (sensus fidei) of the whole people, when, 'from the bishops to the last of the faithful' they manifest a universal consent in matters of faith and morals. By this appreciation of the faith, aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth, the people of God, guided by the sacred teaching authority (magisterium) and obeying it, receives not a merely human word but truly the word of God (cf. 1 Th. 2:13), the faith once for all delivered to the saints (cf. Jude 3). The people unfailingly adheres to this faith, penetrates it more deeply with right judgment and applies it more fully in daily life." (Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, #12)That infants who die without sacramental Baptism or without conditional Baptism within a day of their deaths or without martyrdom in the Name of Christ do not go to Heaven was a dogma that was universally taught and believed for centuries on end, therefore, it must be true, if Catholicism is, indeed, true. It was also universally taught and believed that the desire of the infant's parents, the Church, or anyone else was insufficient to bring that child into Paradise without the actual reception of sacramental Baptism in Water or at least martyrdom in the Name of Christ, with perhaps some exceptions but certainly not "universal" ones.
De fide ecclesiastica
"Moreover, I adhere with religious submission of will and intellect to the teachings which either the Roman Pontiff or the College of Bishops enunciate when they exercise their authentic Magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim these teachings by a definitive act." (Professio Fidei, CDF)Of course, what applies to the present Magisterium must also apply to past Magisteriums:
Seventhly, the decree of union concluded with the Greeks, which was promulgated earlier in this sacred council, recording how the holy Spirit proceeds eternally from the Father and the Son, and that the phrase and the Son was licitly and reasonably added to the creed of Constantinople. Also that the body of the Lord is effected in leavened or unleavened wheat bread; and what is to be believed about the pains of purgatory and hell, about the life of the blessed and about suffrages offered for the dead. In addition, about the plenitude of power of the apostolic see given by Christ to blessed Peter and his successors, . . . . . about the order of the patriarchal sees. (Council of Florence, Session 8 -- 22 November 1439)
By these measures the synod intends to detract in nothing from the sayings and writings of the holy doctors who discourse on these matters. On the contrary, it accepts and embraces them according to their true understanding as commonly expounded and declared by these doctors and other catholic teachers in the theological schools. (Council of Florence at Basel, Session 22 -- 15 October 1435)What about Pope Pius IX?
Pope Pius IX said, “…anyone who is not guilty of a voluntary fault to suffer eternal torments (suppliciis)” Note the plural; Pius IX is hardly discounting the theology of the Council of Carthage and Saint Augustine with respect to infants who die without Baptism.
What about aborted unborn babies?
Per Pope Sixtus V, they go to Hell:
To claim that all aborted babies go to Heaven would be to elevate abortion almost to the level of a "sacrament" (small 's'); in that, it would require the Triune God to provide sanctifying grace to an infant for the remission of original sin as that infant's body was being torn asunder. It would also be to claim that an abortionist is a "minister" of sanctifying grace! No "theological hypotheticals" in this Magisterial document.Noticing that frequently by various Apostolic Constitutions the audacity and daring of most profligate men, who know no restraint, of sinning with license against the commandment "do not kill" was repressed; We who are placed by the Lord in the supreme throne of justice, being counseled by a most just reason, are in part renewing old laws and in part extending them in order to restrain with just punishment the monstrous and atrocious brutality of those who have no fear to kill most cruelly fetuses still hiding in the maternal viscera. Who will not detest such an abhorrent and evil act, by which are lost not only the bodies but also the souls? Who will not condemn to a most grave punishment the impiety of him who will exclude a soul created in the image of God and for which Our Lord Jesus Christ has shed His precious Blood, and which is capable of eternal happiness and is destined to be in the company of angels, from the blessed vision of God, and who has impeded as much as he could the filling up of heavenly mansions, and has taken away the service to God by His creature? Who has deprived children of life before they could naturally see light or could be protected by maternal body from ferocious cruelty? Who will not abhor the cruelty and unrestrained debauchery of impious men who have arrived into such a state of mind that they procure poisons in order to extinguish the conceived fetuses within the viscera, and pour them out, trying to provoke by a nefarious crime a violent and untimely death and killing of their progeny. Finally who will not condemn to a most grave punishment the crimes of those who with poisons, potions and evil actions sterilize women or impede that they conceive or give birth by pernicious medicines and drugs? Sorcerers and evil magicians says the Lord to Saint Moses, you will not suffer, allow and tolerate to live: because they oppose overly shamefully against God's will and, as St Jerome says, while nature receives seed, after having received nurtures it, nurtured body distinguishes in members, meanwhile in the narrowness of the uterus the hand of God is always at work who is Creator of both body and soul and who molded, made and wanted this child and meanwhile the goodness of the Potter, that is of God, is impiously and overly despised by these people. Saint Ambrose says that it is no small and trivial gift of God to give children in order to propagate mankind. It is a Divine gift the fecundity of childbearing woman and at the same time by this cruel and inhuman crime parents are deprived of their offspring that they have engendered; the engendered children of their life; mothers of the rewards of maternity and marriage; earth of its cultivators; the world of those who would know it; the Church of those that would make it grow and prosper and be happy with an increased number of devoted faithful. Therefore for a good reason the Sixth Synod of Constantinople has decreed that persons who give abortive medicine and those who receive and use poisons that kill fetuses are subject to punishment applied to murderers and it was sanctioned by the old Council of Lleida that those that were preoccupied to kill fetuses conceived from adultery or would extinguish them in the wombs of mothers with potions, if afterwards with repentance would recur to the goodness and meekness of the Church, should humbly weep for their sins for the rest of their lives and if they were Clerics, they should not be allowed to recuperate their ministry and they are subject to all Ecclesiastic law's and profane law's grave punishments for those who nefariously plot to kill fetuses in the uterus of childbearing women or try to prevent women from conceiving or try to expel the conceived fetuses from the womb. (Pope Sixtus V, Effraenatam)
And, of course, Pope Sixtus V knew otherwise, as the First Vatican Council stated:
Likewise, the Second Vatican Council stated,6. For the Holy Spirit was promised to the successors of Peter not so that they might, by his revelation, make known some new doctrine, but that, by his assistance, they might religiously guard and faithfully expound the revelation or deposit of faith transmitted by the apostles.
Indeed, their apostolic teaching was embraced by all the venerable fathers and reverenced and followed by all the holy orthodox doctors, for they knew very well that this See of St. Peter always remains unblemished by any error, in accordance with the divine promise of our Lord and Savior to the prince of his disciples: I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.
7. This gift of truth and never-failing faith was therefore divinely conferred on Peter and his successors in this See so that they might discharge their exalted office for the salvation of all, and so that the whole flock of Christ might be kept away by them from the poisonous food of error and be nourished with the sustenance of heavenly doctrine. Thus the tendency to schism is removed and the whole Church is preserved in unity, and, resting on its foundation, can stand firm against the gates of hell.
Among the principal duties of bishops the preaching of the Gospel occupies an eminent place. For bishops are preachers of the faith, who lead new disciples to Christ, and they are authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach to the people committed to them the faith they must believe and put into practice, and by the light of the Holy Spirit illustrate that faith. They bring forth from the treasury of Revelation new things and old, making it bear fruit and vigilantly warding off any errors that threaten their flock. Bishops, teaching in communion with the Roman Pontiff, are to be respected by all as witnesses to divine and Catholic truth. In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent. This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking. (Lumen Gentium, 25)Of course, what applies to the present Popes must also apply to the past ones.
What is "theological certainty"?
None of the Doctors and theologians whom I cited above as speculating on the "vicarious baptism of desire" for infants who die without sacramental Baptism ever denied the existence of the Limbo of the Children or taught that all infants who die without Baptism in Water go to Heaven. To be "theologically certain," a teaching must:
"A truth unanimously held by all schools of theologians which is derived from revealed truth, but by more than one step of reasoning." (On the Value of Theological Notes and the Criteria for Discerning Them by Father Sixtus Cartechini S.J., Rome, 195)Some will claim that Orthodox theologians do not believe in the Limbo of the Children, as they do not believe in Purgatory, Papal Primacy, the Immaculate Conception, etc., as being "proof" that the traditional teaching of Limbo was never "unanimously held." Such a view is, of course, absurd. One might as well appeal to Richard Dawkin's disbelief in Limbo, for any theologian who denies a de fide dogma of the Catholic faith is not an authority on Catholic theology.
Can angels baptize the unborn?
Sure, why not? We have already demonstrated (from Saint Thomas' teachings) that they can baptize those who have been born, as they can be in multiple places at the same time, which, according to Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, means that they can exist outside of time (and, by extension, outside of space.) So, it stands to reason that angels, who are not bound by time & space, can baptize the unborn. Such a grace is, however, no doubt extraordinarily rare, and the Church never taught this idea.
Fall Angels -- no second chances.
The angels were created a "little higher" than were human beings:
330 As purely spiritual creatures angels have intelligence and will: they are personal and immortal creatures, surpassing in perfection all visible creatures, as the splendor of their glory bears witness.Yet, the Triune God offered no forgiveness for those angels who followed Lucifer:
393 It is the irrevocable character of their choice, and not a defect in the infinite divine mercy, that makes the angels' sin unforgivable. "There is no repentance for the angels after their fall, just as there is no repentance for men after death."The same may be true for infant children who are conceived in original sin; the Triune God may not offer them "sanctification in the womb." So much for the "Hallmark Jesus."
Gaudium et Spes -- universal salvation for infant children?
This section gets quoted to support eternal salvation for children who die without sacramental Baptism:
“Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery" (Gaudium et Spes, 22, §5).It is not the will of the Triune God that any unborn child should perish through miscarriage, accident, disease, neglect, abortion, etc., yet these things still happen. Every conceived baby has the possibility of salvation, in that child has the possibility of being born, and after that, the possibility of being sacramentally baptized. If God does not intervene to prevent a miscarriage, what makes anyone think that He intervenes to cleanse a child of original sin while still in the womb, even though He could do that?
As I posted above, the fallen angels, who were created "a little higher" than human beings, were not given any "second chances," so what makes anyone think that a child conceived in original sin would be given any graces beyond those conferred and contained in sacramental Baptism? For is there anything intrinsic to the Infinite and Perfect Nature of the One and Triune God which would not allow Him to give the fallen angels a chance to redeem themselves after their fall? And yet, He did not given them any additional opportunities to redeem themselves, but instead, He condemned them all to eternal Hell. So, it is a stretch to say that He will make any exceptions for infant children whom have been conceived in original sin while in the womb.
As the theologians have always taught, the "faith of the Church" is not sufficient for the cleansing of original sin; perhaps, at most, the explicit faith, desire, and intention of the parents. Is any theologian of today postulating "universal salvation" for infants who die without sacramental Baptism? If so, such a view is one of complete novelty and cannot be found at all in the Tradition of the Church. Not even the Pelagians taught this possibility!
Finally, we have already seen that Limbo is part of God's "merciful plan of salvation," and so children who go to Limbo, in some respects, participate in the "Paschal mystery," even if Limbo is not a "perfect natural paradise."
Search for "Circling the Square":
St. Benedict Center -- Still River
St. Benedict Center -- Richmond
It is heretical and absurd to say that all children who end this life without sacramental Baptism go to Heaven, for this is definitively not what the Church taught (barring "universal salvation," of course, which has never been widely believed, at least until very recently); likewise, it is absurd (and, perhaps, even heretical) to say that there can be no exceptions whatsoever, even ones involving a miracle.
Baptize your own baby!
The 1983 Code of Canon Law is quite explicit as to when infants are to be baptized:
Can. 867 §1. Parents are obliged to take care that infants are baptized in the first few weeks; as soon as possible after the birth or even before it, they are to go to the pastor to request the sacrament for their child and to be prepared properly for it.Note that the Canon states "the first few weeks," not a month, and not six months. As I quoted above, the CCC expresses the same divine law:
§2. An infant in danger of death is to be baptized without delay.
1250 Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin, children also have need of the new birth in Baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God, to which all men are called. The sheer gratuitousness of the grace of salvation is particularly manifest in infant Baptism. The Church and the parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer Baptism shortly after birth.If you cannot find a priest who is willing to baptize your newborn baby and you have committed to raising your child in the One True Faith & Church, then you need to do it yourself. Here's how, per the CCC:
1284 In case of necessity, any person can baptize provided that he have the intention of doing that which the Church does and provided that he pours water on the candidate's head while saying: "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."Here's what you do:
1) Get a liter of tap water; you don't need to use all of it.
2) Hold your baby carefully over a sink.
3) State your baby's full name, and say, "I baptize you in the name of the Father," pour water across forehead, "and of the Son," pour water across forehead, "and of the Holy Spirit," pour water across forehead. Use enough water to achieve oblation on each pour; so long as it runs across your baby's forehead, it's valid. Be careful so that the water does not flow into their nose and/or mouth. Get your spouse or friend to help you.
Can. 1752 In cases of transfer the prescripts of can. 1747 are to be applied, canonical equity is to be observed, and the salvation of souls, which must always be the supreme law in the Church, is to be kept before one’s eyes.