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Parenthood Support Group

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Peresvet Burov
Peresvet Burov


While the Catholic Church has a defined doctrine on original sin, it has none on the eternal fate of unbaptised infants, leaving theologians free to propose different theories, which magisterium is free to accept or reject. Nonetheless, according to Catholic dogma, baptism, or at least the desire for it, along with supernatural faith or at least the "habit of faith", are necessary for salvation. Hence, it is not immediately clear how to reconcile the mercy of God for unbaptized infants with the necessity of baptism and Catholic faith for salvation. Several theories have been proposed. Limbo is one such theory,[12] although the word limbo itself is never mentioned in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.[13] Nonetheless, the theory of limbo has weighty support in the traditional teaching of the Doctors of the Church, such as Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saint Augustine, and Saint Alphonsus Liguori.



If Heaven is a state of supernatural happiness and union with God, and Hell is understood as a state of torture and separation from God then, in this view, the Limbo of Infants, although technically part of hell (the outermost part, limbo meaning 'outer edge' or 'hem') is seen as a sort of intermediate state.

Pope Benedict XVI authorized publication of this document, indicating that he considers it consistent with the Church's teaching, though it is not an official expression of that teaching.[35] Media reports that by the document "the Pope closed Limbo"[38] are thus without foundation. In fact, the document explicitly states that "the theory of limbo, understood as a state which includes the souls of infants who die subject to original sin and without baptism, and who, therefore, neither merit the beatific vision, nor yet are subjected to any punishment, because they are not guilty of any personal sin. This theory, elaborated by theologians beginning in the Middle Ages, never entered into the dogmatic definitions of the Magisterium. Still, that same Magisterium did at times mention the theory in its ordinary teaching up until the Second Vatican Council. It remains therefore a possible theological hypothesis" (second preliminary paragraph); and in paragraph 41 it repeats that the theory of Limbo "remains a possible theological opinion". The document thus allows the hypothesis of a limbo of infants to be held as one of the existing theories about the fate of children who die without being baptised, a question on which there is "no explicit answer" from Scripture or tradition.[35] The traditional theological alternative to Limbo was not Heaven, but rather some degree of suffering in Hell. At any rate, these theories are not the official teaching of the Catholic Church, but are only opinions that the Church does not condemn, permitting them to be held by its members, just as is the theory of possible salvation for infants dying without baptism.

Neither the Eastern Orthodox Church nor Protestantism accepts the concept of a limbo of infants;[39] but, while not using the expression "Limbo of the Patriarchs", the Eastern Orthodox Church lays much stress on the resurrected Christ's action of liberating Adam and Eve and other righteous figures of the Old Testament, such as Abraham and David, from Hades (see Harrowing of Hell).

In Islam, which denies the existence of original sin in totality, the concept of Limbo exists as Barzakh, the state that exists after death, prior to the day of resurrection. During this period, sinners are punished and the adequately purified rest in comfort. Children however are exempt from this stage, as they are regarded as innocent and are automatically classed as Muslims (despite religious upbringing). After death, they go directly to Heaven, where they are cared for by Abraham.[42] According to Christian Louis Lange, Islam also possesses a al-aʿrāf (cf. Q.7:46) "a residual place or limbo" situated between heaven and hell where there is "neither punishment nor reward".[43]

In Buddhism, Bardo (Sanskrit: antarabhāva) is sometimes described as similar to limbo. It is an intermediate state in which the recently deceased experiences various phenomena before being reborn in another state, including heaven or hell. According to Mahāyāna Buddhism, the arhat must ultimately embrace the path of the bodhisattva, despite having reached enlightenment. The Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra states that an arhat obtains a samādhikāya ('rapture-body') and is reborn in a lotus in a transitory state of existence, unable to awaken for a whole eon. This is likened to a person intoxicated who must spend a certain period of time before becoming sober.[44]

What is it like to flee your home and start again in a new country? Asylum seekers live on 5 a day while they wait to hear whether they can stay in the UK. This exclusive Guardian virtual reality film allows you to experience how this period of limbo feels, waiting for a decision that will affect the rest of your life

Otherplace generally has a morally and spiritually corrupting influence over its denizens. If human, a resident of the realm will slowly metamorphose into a demonic entity. This change enhances the magical powers of the individual at the cost of their soul. Persons of great moral courage and wisdom can stave off the change for decades, but it is considered inevitable. The transformation usually progresses in stages initiated by the evil acts Limbo demands for survival. Magic in limbo is fundamentally neutral. It is the social and political climate that leads to this process.[citation needed]

region supposed to exist on the border of Hell, reserved for pre-Christian saints (Limbus patrum) and unbaptized infants (Limbus infantum);" c. 1300, from Latin limbo, ablative singular of limbus "edge, border" (see limb (n.2)). In frequent use in Latin phrases such as in limbo (patrum), which is entirely Latin, but the in was taken as English and hence the Latin ablative became the English noun. Figurative sense of "condition of neglect or oblivion, place of confinement" is from 1640s.

Latin, literally "edge, border" (see limb (n.2)). Used in English in various senses; in Medieval Latin the name of the region on the border of Hell, and thus sometimes used in very correct English for limbo (n.1).

The New Testament contains no definite statement of a positive kind regarding the lot of those who die in original sin without being burdened with grievous personal guilt. But, by insisting on the absolute necessity of being "born again of water and the Holy Ghost" (John 3:5) for entry into the kingdom of Heaven (see BAPTISM, subtitle Necessity of Baptism), Christ clearly enough implies that men are born into this world in a state of sin, and St. Paul's teaching to the same effect is quite explicit (Romans 5:12 sqq.). On the other hand, it is clear from Scripture and Catholic tradition that the means of regeneration provided for this life do not remain available after death, so that those dying unregenerate are eternally excluded from the supernatural happiness of the beatific vision (John 9:4, Luke 12:40, 16:19 sqq., 2 Corinthians 5:10; see also APOCATASTASIS). The question therefore arises as to what, in the absence of a clear positive revelation on the subject, we ought in conformity with Catholic principles to believe regarding the eternal lot of such persons. Now it may confidently be said that, as the result of centuries of speculation on the subject, we ought to believe that these souls enjoy and will eternally enjoy a state of perfect natural happiness; and this is what Catholics usually mean when they speak of the limbus infantium, the "children's limbo."

Neither of these theologians, however, succeeded in winning a large following or in turning the current of Catholic opinion from the channel into which St. Thomas had directed it. Besides Natalis Alexander (De peccat. et virtut, I, i, 12), and Estius (In Sent., II, xxxv, 7), Bellarmine's chief supporter was Bossuet, who vainly tried to induce Innocent XII to condemn certain propositions which he extracted from a posthumous work of Cardinal Sfrondati and in which the lenient scholastic view is affirmed. Only professed Augustinians like Noris and Berti, or out-and-out Jansenists like the Bishop of Pistoia, whose famous diocesan synod furnished eighty-five propositions for condemnation by Pius VI (1794), supported the harsh teaching of Petavius. The twenty-sixth of these propositions repudiated "as a Pelagian fable the existence of the place (usually called the children's limbo) in which the souls of those dying in original sin are punished by the pain of loss without any pain of fire"; and this, taken to mean that by denying the pain of fire one thereby necessarily postulates a middle place or state, involving neither guilt nor penalty, between the Kingdom of God and eternal damnation, is condemned by the pope as being "false and rash and as slander of the Catholic schools" (Denz. 526).

This condemnation was practically the death-knell of extreme Augustinianism, while the mitigate Augustinianism of Bellarmine and Bossuet had already been rejected by the bulk of Catholic theologians. Suarez, for example, ignoring Bellarmine's protest, continued to teach what Catharinus had taught — that unbaptized children will not only enjoy perfect natural happiness, but that they will rise with immortal bodies at the last day and have the renovated earth for their happy abode (De vit. et penat., ix, sect. vi, n. 4); and, without insisting on such details, the great majority of Catholic theologians have continued to maintain the general doctrine that the children's limbo is a state of perfect natural happiness, just the same as it would have been if God had not established the present supernatural order. It is true, on the other hand, that some Catholic theologians have stood out for some kind of compromise with Augustinianism, on the ground that nature itself was wounded and weakened, or, at least that certain natural rights (including the right to perfect felicity) were lost in consequence of the Fall. But these have granted for the most part that the children's limbo implies exemption, not only from the pain of sense, but from any positive spiritual anguish for the loss of the beatific vision; and not a few have been willing to admit a certain degree of natural happiness in limbo. What has been chiefly in dispute is whether this happiness is as perfect and complete as it would have been in the hypothetical state of pure nature, and this is what the majority of Catholic theologians have affirmed. 041b061a72


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