Friday, June 22, 2012

Where Do Unbaptized Babies Go When They Die?

The question of where unbaptized infants go after death is one that has vexed the Church for centuries.  Some of Her greatest Saints have disagreed on this issue: St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, for example, came to different conclusions.  And every possible answer is fraught with problems.  If we say that the unborn and unbaptized infants automatically go to Heaven, there's a serious risk of presumption (or worse, thinking of abortion as assisting these poor souls).  It also seems to undermine the Church's teaching on the necessity of infant baptism.  On the other hand, saying that these children are damned runs contrary to everything that we believe about the purpose of Hell - damning a child who is murdered in the womb (and who never had a free act for or against God, and never had the ability to believe in Him) appears to be the worst form of injustice.  And the solution proposed by many theologians - that these children go to the Limbo of Infants - looks too cute by half, and isn't apparently supported by the Scriptural evidence.


The Problem of Unbaptized Infants

Let's start examining this question by acknowledging what we do know:
  1. Nothing impure enters Heaven (Rev. 21:27).
  2. Original sin is real, and even damnable. (Romans 5:12, Rom. 5:18-19, 1 Cor. 15:22, Council of Florence).
  3. All of us (save Jesus Christ, and the Virgin Mary) are conceived with original sin.
  4. Baptism is the ordinary means of being cleansed from original sin, and being justified and sanctified before God. Put another way, Baptism saves us (1 Peter 3:21).
  5. Damnation is a punishment for deliberate (or voluntary) sins.  As Blessed Pope Pius IX put it, “Because God knows, searches and clearly understands the minds, hearts, thoughts, and nature of all, his supreme kindness and clemency do not permit anyone at all who is not guilty of deliberate sin to suffer eternal punishments.
Now, all of this creates an obvious problem for the question of the eternal souls of those who die, unbaptized, in infancy (including, for example, the souls of the unborn).  On the one hand, they were conceived with original sin, and did not receive Baptism.  This seems to foreclose their ability to enjoy the fullness of the Presence of God in Heaven, the Beatific Vision.  On the other hand, they commit no voluntary sin, so eternal damnation would be unjust.  Unlike an adult who died with original sin on their conscience, the infants did not refuse Baptism, but lacked the capacity to will it.  In the case of those who died in vivo, it wasn't even possible for them to receive it!

The Theory of Limbo

Considering this problem (that there seems to be no solid basis to say that unbaptized infants are either in Heaven or damned), theologians have hypothesized that these infants enjoyed a state of Limbo, similar to what was experienced by the righteous dead who died before Christ.  If you're not familiar with the Limbo of the Patriarchs, read up on the Harrowing of Hell, and what Scripture has to say about the Bosom of Abraham (see Luke 16:19-31).

We sometimes envision Limbo as being a place free of any pleasure or pain, like some sort of Christian Nirvana.  But that's not how the theologians described it at all.  Rather, they envisioned it as the state of the highest natural happiness, but without the Beatific Vision.  That's a big caveat: after all, the chief torment of Hell is the pain of loss, that the souls are separated from God.  Dante properly placed Limbo as the outer ring of Hell, just as those souls in the Bosom of Abraham prior to the Death of Christ were in Hell (just not the hell of damnation).

So the souls in Limbo suffer, in the sense that they do not enjoy the Beatific Vision of God, the purpose for which they were created; but they don't suffer what's called “pain of sense,” and (despite their suffering, at being detached from God), aren't being damned or punished by Him.  In fact, those who advocate for Limbo generally argue that they enjoy “perfect natural happiness.”  In other words, their original sin prevents them from enjoying the Beatific Vision, but they're in as close to a paradisaical state as one can get without being able to see God.

The advantages to the theory of Limbo are clear.  It respects both the reality of original sin, and the necessity of voluntary sin for damnation.  It's even consistent with what we know about what the Patriarchs experienced (who were likewise incapable of entering Heaven, since Christ had not yet atoned for their sins, but unworthy of being damned, since they lived by faith).  But the central problem with the theory is this: there's no reference to a Limbo of Infants anywhere in Scripture.

Dare We Hope?


The Visitation (detail from a 1410 German parament)
There is an alternative to Limbo: namely, that God simply saves unbaptized infants through an extraordinary grace.  This doesn't violate the truth that Baptism is the ordinary means of being cleansed from original sin.  As the Catechism notes, “God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.”  So we're required to be Baptized to be saved, but God isn't required to damn the unbaptized.  He can do whatever He pleases, including welcoming unbaptized infants into Paradise.

There is also a thread (admittedly, a thin one) running through the Scriptures that provide some hope on this point.  When David's infant son died, he reasoned (2 Samuel 12:23) “now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”  This provides a basis for concluding that infants and adults arrive at the same destination, but it's complicated by the fact that this is the Old Covenant, while the Limbo of the Patriarchs still exists (that is, the opposing view may well say: yes, David did join his son... in  Limbo!).  But the implication of the passage would seem to suggest an eternity together in Heaven.

Stronger evidence is found in the Infancy Narratives of the New Testament.  First, there's John the Baptist, who Luke 1:15 promised would be filled with the Holy Spirit from birth.  In fact, even before birth, the Holy Spirit dwells in him.  We see this at the Visitation, in which, Mary (pregnant with Our Lord) goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth. As Luke 1:41 says: “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.” Of course, it's not only Elizabeth who is filled with the Holy Spirit, here: it's also the unborn John the Baptist, which is why he leaped for joy.  For John to have an indwelling of the Holy Spirit (both in the womb and at birth) requires that he not be tainted by original sin.  The Church has long recognized this, and it's for this reason that John the Baptist's is one of only three Nativities that we celebrate (the other two being  Jesus and Mary, the other two people born without original sin).

François-Joseph Navez, The Massacre of the Innocents (1824)
There's also the Massacre of the Innocents, in which Herod murdered the children in the vicinity of Bethlehem (Matthew 2:16-18).  The Church celebrates their feast day as the Feast of the Holy Innocents, and they're considered the very first Christian martyrs.  St. Augustine himself (while expressing severe doubts as to the eternal fate of unbaptized children) was explicit that these infants were in Heaven:
In full right do we celebrate the heavenly birthday of these children whom the world caused to be born unto an eternally blessed life rather than that from their mothers' womb, for they attained the grace of everlasting life before the enjoyment of the present. The precious death of any martyr deserves high praise because of his heroic confession; the death of these children is precious in the sight of God because of the beatitude they gained so quickly. For already at the beginning of their lives they pass on. The end of the present life is for them the beginning of glory. These then, whom Herod's cruelty tore as sucklings from their mothers' bosom, are justly hailed as "infant martyr flowers"; they were the Church's first blossoms, matured by the frost of persecution during the cold winter of unbelief.
If then, these infants can enjoy the fullness of Heaven with Our Lord without water Baptism (or being old enough to form a Baptism of desire), it certainly seems possible that other unbaptized infants join them... and particularly those unborn and infants who are murdered.

The Chief Difficulty

The chief difficulty on both sides (those who think the unbaptized children go to Limbo, and those who think that they go to Heaven) is that the New Testament writings assume an audience of the age of reason.  The party of Limbo faces the difficulty that a Limbo of infants is simply never mentioned in Scripture, unlike the Limbo of the Patriarchs (which is referenced in both Luke 16 and 1 Peter 3).  The obvious answer is that the New Testament readers aren't going to Limbo (since they're not infants), so there's no need to mention it, just as Christ avoided telling Peter the fate of John in John 21:21-22.

The party of Heaven faces the difficulty posed by Christ's injunctions that “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16) and that “whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:18).  But the obvious answer here is the same: the New Testament is directed at an audience capable of belief, which infants are not.  In fact, to the extent that Jesus does directly address the salvation of children, His Message is reassuring (Matthew 18:1-3).

The Best Posture: Hope, Without Despair or Presumption

If Scripture is silent on this question, perhaps that's for good reason.  As noted above, no matter what the answer is, it may simply be best for us not to know, to avoid either despair or presumption, or to cause us to delay or neglect Baptism.

Pietro Longhi, The Baptism (1755)
That would seem to be the thinking of the Church right, and perhaps the most reasonable solution to this problem.  Pope John Paul II assembled an International Theological Commission to study this question.  In 2007, during Benedict's pontificate, they released their findings on “The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptized.”  It concludes:
Our conclusion is that the many factors that we have considered above give serious theological and liturgical grounds for hope that unbaptized infants who die will be saved and enjoy the beatific vision. We emphasize that these are reasons for prayerful hope, rather than grounds for sure knowledge. There is much that simply has not been revealed to us (cf. Jn 16:12). We live by faith and hope in the God of mercy and love who has been revealed to us in Christ, and the Spirit moves us to pray in constant thankfulness and joy (cf. 1 Thes 5:18).
What has been revealed to us is that the ordinary way of salvation is by the sacrament of baptism. None of the above considerations should be taken as qualifying the necessity of baptism or justifying delay in administering the sacrament. [Cf. Catechism, 1257.] Rather, as we want to reaffirm in conclusion, they provide strong grounds for hope that God will save infants when we have not been able to do for them what we would have wished to do, namely, to baptize them into the faith and life of the church.
So get your babies Baptized, and if they die before you can, simply entrust their souls to God.  This side of eternity, that may well be all that we can know on the issue for certain.

97 comments:

  1. We do know that we enjoy heaven to the extent that we've developed the capacity to love. Everyone will have the fullness of happiness, but how full that is will depend on the measure of their capacity. So, an infant, having developed minimal capacity for enjoyment, could be perfectly happy in heaven it it's own way.

    ReplyDelete
  2. When I miscarried for the first time, our priest told me (and he expressed this as his private opinion, not as an official teaching of the Church) that God could apply baptism of desire to our baby, since God knew my heart and mind, as well as my husband's, and knew that we desired baptism for our baby and would have baptized him/her if s/he had lived.

    I also have found great comfort in this quote, attributed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux: "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.”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. JoAnna,

      That is a great quote you referenced; I think it does give much hope. Can you let me know the specific writing, if possible, of St. Bernard? I am going to try to search for it also.

      Thanks,
      Michael

      Delete
    2. Hi Michael, I've tried to track down the original source, but haven't had much luck. I first came across the quote in this article.

      Delete
    3. "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.”"

      So it is a letter of St Bernard's.

      Delete
    4. JoAnna, it was a beautiful quote

      Delete
    5. Please accept my sincere condolences. A question still boggles my mind, though. What about the babies of unbelievers or people of other religions? What happens to these babies when they die before having had the chance to get baptized or not having had the time to grow the consciousness to accept God?

      Delete
    6. Clivens,

      The babies in question had no say in the matter. It wasn't their fault that they weren't baptized. So there's no particular reason to believe that they would be treated differently than the unbaptized children of believers.

      God bless,

      Joe

      Delete
    7. Joe, 1st, please understand that I mean no disrespect. With that being said, you make a good point, I understand completely from where you are coming. I also understand that she was speaking on a personal agenda and not generalizing on the 1st part of her post. But, the 2nd part "Your faith spoke for this child. Baptism for this child was only delayed by time. Your faith suffices." is, with all due respect a somewhat bigoted statement. Now, going by what this says, I'm inclined to ask again, "What about the babies of unbelievers or people of other religions? What happens to those babies when they die before having had the chance to get baptized or not having had the time to grow the consciousness to accept God?"

      Thank you,

      Clivens

      Delete
  3. Great post! And, to me, the unanswered question is proof of the Church's divine claims. After all, if the Church was merely a human institution, some pope would have just declared an answer to this very persistent, very emotional question, sometime over the 2,000 year history of the Church. But, in fact, the Church cannot do so, because Jesus never revealed it. The Church cannot speak definitively on it. Nothing can be added to, subtracted from, or changed within the Deposit of Faith, even by the Magisterium. I think that is amazing evidence that the Church is what she claims to be!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a great point, Leila. I've often heard this reasoning in response to why the Bible appears to contradict itself on narrative retellings of the same event (I'm thinking of a specific event in Acts when Paul first claims to have "heard but not seen" and then later, "seen but not heard."). Anyway, if the Church was concerned with making a watertigtht case for all issues, she certainly wouldn't concede to uncertainty on the issue of infant baptism.

      Christina

      Delete
    2. Very rational and thoughtful point Leila, and the overall tone of the article is one of hope

      Delete
  4. I agree completely with your conclusion: get those babies baptized ASAP!

    FWIW, I examined this issue last November on my blog, and found this post by Fr. Ryan Erlenbush very helpful:
    http://newtheologicalmovement.blogspot.com/2011/11/ought-we-to-pray-for-young-children-who.html

    And here's my 2-cents' worth from my blog:
    http://philotheaonphire.blogspot.com/2011/11/second-thoughts-on-infants-who-die.html

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is an important topic. I have a question that I have never had answered, so perhaps this might be a good place to pose it.
    Is it possible that at the second coming of Christ, when Heaven is revealed, that Limbo may be reunited to Heaven? I know this is possible as all things are possible with God. I truly feel that as at His first coming, Christ descended to the dead to release those in hell; He may have been prefiguring His descent again to end the separation of those in Limbo from the beatific vision.

    ReplyDelete
  6. They are saved by God's Grace. Period. End of story. The Church says so: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070419_un-baptised-infants_en.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's not accurate, and Joe quoted that document in his post (see the last two paragraphs). It says "We emphasize that these are reasons for prayerful hope, rather than grounds for sure knowledge."

      Delete
    2. 91. Where sin abounded, grace superabounded! That is the emphatic teaching of Scripture, but the idea of Limbo seems to constrain that superabundance. “[T]he free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many”; “as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man's act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men”; “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rom 5:15, 18, 20). “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor 15:22). Scripture teaches of our sinful solidarity in Adam, yes, but it does so as the backdrop to teaching our salvific solidarity in Christ. 'The doctrine of original sin is, so to speak, the “reverse side” of the Good News that Jesus is the saviour of all men, that all need salvation and that salvation is offered to all through Christ.'[122] Many traditional accounts of sin and salvation (and of Limbo) have stressed solidarity with Adam more than solidarity with Christ or at least such accounts have had a restrictive conception of the ways by which human beings benefit from solidarity with Christ. This would seem to have been a characteristic of Augustine’s thought in particular:[123]Christ saves a select few from the mass who are damned in Adam. The teaching of St Paul would urge us to redress the balance and to centre humanity on Christ the saviour, to whom all, in some way, are united.[124] “He who is the ‘image of the invisible God’[125] is himself the perfect man who has restored in the children of Adam that likeness to God which had been disfigured ever since the first sin. Human nature, by the very fact that it was assumed, not absorbed, in him, has been raised in us also to a dignity beyond compare” (GS 22). We wish to stress that humanity’s solidarity with Christ (or, more properly, Christ’s solidarity with all of humanity) must have priority over the solidarity of human beings with Adam, and that the question of the destiny of unbaptised infants who die must be addressed in that light.

      92. “He is the image of the invisible God, the first‑born of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,....all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the Church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent” (Col 1:15-18). God's plan is “to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Eph 1:10). There is a renewed appreciation of the great cosmic mystery of communion in Christ. This, in fact, is the fundamental context for our question.

      93. Nevertheless, human beings are blessed with freedom, and a free acceptance of Christ is the ordinary means of salvation; we are not saved without our acceptance and certainly not against our will. All adults either explicitly or implicitly make a decision vis‑à‑vis Christ who has united himself with them (cf. GS 22). Some modern theologians see the option for or against Christ as implicated in all choices. However, it is precisely the lack of free‑will and responsible choice on the part of infants that leads to the query as to how they stand vis‑à‑vis Christ if they die unbaptised. The fact that infants can enjoy the vision of God is recognised in the practice of baptizing infants. The traditional view is that it is only through sacramental Baptism that infants have solidarity with Christ and hence access to the vision of God. Otherwise, solidarity with Adam has priority. We may ask, however, how that view might be changed if priority were restored to our solidarity with Christ (i.e. Christ’s solidarity with us).

      Delete
    3. How does this passage support your assertion, Francisco? I can't see that it does.

      Delete
    4. Yes and because of that there are "reasons for prayerful hope, rather than grounds for sure knowledge."

      I don't see anything in your post that conclusively says "They are saved by God's Grace. Period. End of story. The Church says so" as you claim.

      Delete
    5. Francisco,

      As JoAnna already pointed out, the link you provided is to the very thing that I quoted, and doesn't say what you thought it says. At this point, I think that's clear to everyone (if it's not, re-read the ITC's conclusions, in paragraphs 102-103). There's no sense digging in.

      In any case, even if the ITC had said what you initially thought, it wouldn't mean that "the Church" had settled the question, as if the ITC is somehow the Magisterium. By way of reference, the Pontifical Commission on Birth Control tried to convince Paul VI that the use of artificial birth control was okay.

      You were mistaken, it happens. Let's move on.

      I.X.,

      Joe

      Delete
    6. Nothing impure enters Heaven (Rev. 21:27)(And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.).
      (John)(Jn-3-5)(Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.)

      Islam is the true way, there is no Original sin in our bodies.
      Nobel Quran
      2:35 We said: "O Adam! dwell thou and thy wife in the Garden; and eat of the bountiful things therein as (where and when) ye will; but approach not this tree, or ye run into harm and transgression."

      36 Then did Satan make them slip from the (garden), and get them out of the state (of felicity) in which they had been. We said: "Get ye down, all (ye people), with enmity between yourselves. On earth will be your dwelling-place and your means of livelihood - for a time."

      37 Then learnt Adam from his Lord words of inspiration, and his Lord Turned towards him; for He is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful.

      38 We said: "Get ye down all from here; and if, as is sure, there comes to you Guidance from me, whosoever follows My guidance, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.

      39 "But those who reject Faith and belie Our Signs, they shall be companions of the Fire; they shall abide therein."

      And that is all

      Delete
  7. Joe, does your number 2 and 5 contradict each other?

    2- Original sin is real, and even damnable. (Original Sin does not require deliberate or personal sin but is "damnable")

    5- Damnation is a punishment for deliberate (or voluntary) sins. As Blessed Pope Pius IX put it, “Because God knows, searches and clearly understands the minds, hearts, thoughts, and nature of all, his supreme kindness and clemency do not permit anyone at all who is not guilty of deliberate sin to suffer eternal punishments.”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Michael P,

      Good question. On the surface, they appear to contradict, but I think it's possible to hold both simultaneously. Take the case of a person who, upon reaching the age of reason, had never commit a personal sin. That person would still need to be Baptized to wash away original sin, and if their refusal to do so would be damnable. But that's because the need to be Baptized to wash away original sin triggers a duty (and thus, the possibility of a deliberate sin of commission or omission).

      I.X.,

      Joe

      Delete
  8. Interesting post and comments. Thanks for that quote from St. Bernard of Clairvaux, JoAnna. Comforting, indeed.

    Our son died just prior to being born and our priest who came to the hospital said baptism was not permitted. We understood that sacraments are for the living but, still, I remember being horrified and my husband held deep regret about what we could have done differently.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so sorry for your loss, Melanie.

      Delete
    2. Just prior? Huh. I have heard of anointing being performed on corpses just in case the soul's departure from the body might not be complete at once. I would have thought a conditional baptism would be wise just in case.

      Delete
    3. Admittedly I have not read through all of the comments to this interesting post, however, I have seen no mention so far of the two other forms of Baptism recognized by the Church. First, and the one that should give Melanie great solace, is the Baptism of Desire. When a little one is lost before Baptism in the traditional sense can take place, should the parents of those children be in agreement that, had their child lived and in their grief offer a perfect act of contrition on behalf of the child, God’s overwhelming love supplies the grace that receives these little ones into full communion of the Heavenly Kingdom.

      Similarly, the unbaptized whose lives are forfeit because of Christ, like the Holy Innocents mentioned above receive what is known as the Baptism of Blood. These two inferred sources of Baptismal grace must be considered when asking the question “What happens to unbaptized babies who die?”

      Pax,

      Dcn. Jim Miles
      St. Thomas the Apostle
      Ann Arbor, Michigan
      Diocese of Lansing
      USA

      Delete
    4. Deacon Jim,

      Baptism of desire refers to one's own intention; we cannot project our intentions upon others, including our children.

      Delete
    5. Taylor,

      In the case of Baptism, the parents stand as proxy for their children. A logical extension of their expressed desire would be a baptism of desire for their infant children before the age of reason. (e.g. just as the parents make the baptismal promises for their children saying in essence " If my child were of age, he/she would promise this."

      Parents have the God given right of proxy for their children; in naming them, in answering for them, and in their spiritual intention. Can we argue that the baptism of desire is any less real than the limbo construct identified above?

      Pax

      Dcn. Jim

      Delete
    6. I was told by a warrior that deceased soldiers on the battlefield can receive anointing after death as we arent sure the exact second that the soul leaves the body, why would infants who just died not be given the same opportunity? The Sacrament of Baptism is not disrespected or profaned if we are applying it prudently in real emergencies.

      As a nurse I have used that principal and I have baptized recently deceased babies. I do endeavor to not wait until after if at all possible. Yesterday I was at the death of a Catholic baby who was Baptized but the Priest had rushed to his side from a sporting event where he didn't have his normal supplies. There was no sacred oil to do a Confirmation so we had someone rush it to us and he was Confirmed seconds before death.

      I will share a miracle that I know of...a devout woman I know was bathing a just-deceased newborn and she baptized it. The physical body of that baby had no capacity to move but God gave that nurse a gift when she saw the baby smile. I think at that moment, the nurse held a person on the edge of existence in 2 realms as she (the baby was a girl) crossed over into the better.

      Additionally, I agree with Deacon Jim...if parents act as proxy for Baptism in normal circumstances, then Baptism of desire need not be any different.

      Delete
  9. If we can reasonably hope for unbaptized babies to end up enjoying the beatific vision instead of the highest state of natural happiness can we hope the same for the souls of the virtuous pagans (i.e. Socrates)? Dante places both in Limbo and for the same reason (they lack personal sin and lack baptism). It would seem the same logic would apply.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting question. The difference I believe is that while unbaptized infants or even miscarried children do not have personal sin, while even the most virtuous of pagans would. So it's tricky.

      Delete
    2. Nathan,

      Taylor is right that the situation with virtuous pagans is different. On the one hand, they have personal sin. On the other, they can also have Baptism of desire.

      I’m glad you mentioned Socrates, because St. Justin Martyr, in his First Apology, argues that Socrates was a Christian -- he seems to have in mind something like a Baptism of desire. His broader argument is that what the Law was for the Jews (a preparation for Christ, and a partial revelation of God), Philosophy was for the Greeks (by introducing them to reason, and thus, the Logos, who would take on flesh as Jesus Christ). In this, Socrates is the Greek version of someone like Abraham. Justin makes this point about Socrates twice: first, in chapter 5, where he talks about how the evils of paganism were evident to those who followed Logos, like Socrates:

      “For not only among the Greeks did reason (Logos) prevail to condemn these things through Socrates, but also among the Barbarians were they condemned by Reason (or the Word, the Logos) Himself, who took shape, and became man, and was called Jesus Christ…”

      Then again, in chapter 46, he argues:

      “We have been taught that Christ is the first-born of God, and we have declared above that He is the Word of whom every race of men were partakers; and those who lived reasonably are Christians, even though they have been thought atheists; as, among the Greeks, Socrates and Heraclitus, and men like them; and among the barbarians, Abraham, and Ananias, and Azarias, and Misael, and Elias, and many others whose actions and names we now decline to recount, because we know it would be tedious.”

      Now, we haven't exactly rushed out to canonize Socrates, so it's important to remember that this is the opinion of a great Saint, but not necessarily the Church. Still, I find Justin's argument fascinating food for thought (and reasonable grounds for hoping for the salvation even of those who don't appear to be Catholic).

      I.X.,

      Joe

      Delete
  10. Joe,

    Though God is not bound by His Sacraments, He is bound by His Word, correct? John 3:3-5 says no one can enter Heaven without be born again or of water and spirit. I know the Church's teaching on the 3 forms of baptism and I can see where "baptism of desire" may be applied here.

    Also, the Holy Innocents, though in the NT, died prior to Christ's death and resurrection, so they would have gone to the Bosom of Abraham after death, not Heaven, but eventually to Heaven. They were also not "unborn" but infants and were likely circumcised under the OT Covenant. Just some thoughts.

    God bless,
    Michael

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Another thought, if Baptism of Desire is a possibility for the unborn, then the parents would have to desire it for their unborn child, correct? If so, what about those who don't desire to have their child baptized? The reason I ask is that it would be only fair to assume that all who abort their child have no plan on baptizing them.

      Thanks,
      Michael

      Delete
  11. There is a long tradition for such a legitimate hope, but properly understood, St.Thomas said that infants "can nevertheless be subjected to the action of God, in whose presence they are living, in such wise that they achieve sanctification by some privilege of grace, as is evident regarding those who have been sanctified in the womb"

    And Ludwig Ott writing about a half century ago states, "Other emergency forms of baptism for children dying without sacramental baptism, such as prayer and desire of the parents or the Church, or the attainment of the use of reason in the moment of death, so that the dying child can decide for or against God, or suffering and death of the child as a quasi-Sacrament, are indeed, possible, but their actuality cannot be proved from Revelation."

    This was before the Magisterium openly regarded such theological opinions with favor.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thanks, Joe, for tackling what can be a contentious topic. My wife had a miscarriage in January, and as we are a more traditional couple, we instantly assumed Limbo. I think both Limbo and Purgatory, although of course not the same thing, are seen in negative lights today, when in reality they are positive doctrines of hope, as you mentioned. To know that our child Francis is in some way in a place of perfect happiness, whether natural or supernatural, is such a comfort.

    I personally have come to view it is a both/and sort of thing. To me, Limbo now is much more likely, although after the Resurrection, entering into the Holy Place with God for eternity is more likely, for I don't know that there can be a Limbo after the New Creation. This is why we in a way still pray for Francis' soul, in hope that God's will will be perfectly done know matter what.

    That said, I would have to disagree with the idea that our baptism of desire can be placed on another. I only say this out of charity. It is my understanding that the idea of baptism of desire is only applied to those who are personally seeking it, such as the Aristotle/unbaptized pagan situations. This would lead to the problem of children who, for some reason are unbaptized (families who convert later?) and are still under our authority (as parents), who we wish they would be baptized, but persist in grave sin.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Also, I ask for prayers here for all who have suffered a miscarriage and who are trying again to cooperate with God's will and receive the gift of children.

      Delete
  13. I remember being taught in Catholic schools that there are three kinds or forms of Baptism: Baptism of Water, Baptism of Desire, and Baptism of Blood. You don't mention the latter. Surely, it would apply to infants killed the womb, wouldn't it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Baptism by blood is martyrdom, not simply being killed or shedding blood. Blood must be shed for the faith.

      Delete
  14. Just to satisfy my OCD: it's in vivo, not in vitro.

    P.S. Sorry ;)

    ReplyDelete
  15. The quote from Pope Pius IX is not given exactly accuratley in this post. The exact translation is: "would never of His supreme goodness and mercy permit anyone to be punished with eternal torments (aeternis puniri supplicis) who has not incurred the guilt of voluntary sin." So, one could say that Pope Pius IX is saying that those who have no actual sin, but only original sin, are not punished with eternal torments, but they are in Hell -- just in that part of Hell where there are no eternal torments -- i.e., Limbo.

    Gregory the Great wrote, “But that which the water of Baptism avails for with us, this either faith alone did of old in behalf of infants, or, for those of riper years, the virtue of sacrifice, or, for all that came of the stock of Abraham, the mystery of circumcision. For that every living being is conceived in the guilt of our first parent the Prophet witnesses, saying, ‘And in sin hath my mother conceived me.’ [Ps.51, 5] And that he who is not washed in the water of salvation, does not lose the punishment of original sin, Truth plainly declares by Itself in these words, ‘Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (Pope St. Gregory the Great, Magna Moralia, Book iv, preface).’”

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What is the difference you're seeing between the two translations? Maybe you're picking up on something I'm overlooking, but it sounds like two different ways of saying the exact same thing - that damnation is for voluntary sin. I don't see how either of those would foreclose the possibility of Limbo, but I do think that they foreclose the possibility of the hell of damnation.

      As for the Gregory the Great quote, that's excellent, because I think it shows how one can hold the seeming contradiction between believe that original sin is damnable, and that infants won't be damned for having original sin. It seems relevant in response to MichaelP's question above.

      I.X.,

      Joe

      Delete
    2. I guess that's the point I'm making: Pope Pius's quote doesn't say "damnation" is only for voluntary sin, but that the punishment with eternal torments (plural) is only for voluntary sin. Two different things. So, someone with original sin but not atual sin will still be damned, but he won't be punished with eternal torments. Limbo is a place of the damned, but there are no torments there for actual sin. Your blog pointed out why Limbo is not a perfect explanation, and I agree, but it is the best we've got.

      Now Gregory was saying that those who died in ages past without baptism, were saved in some cases, but not saved unto Heaven, but saved unto Limbo where they waited Christ to come and set them free. He says later in that same book, "But before our Redeemer by His own death paid man's penalty, those even that followed the ways of the heavenly country, the bars of hell held fast after their departure out of the flesh, not so that punishment should light on them, but that while resting in regions apart, they should find the guilt of the first sin a bar to their entrance into the kingdom, in that the Intercession of the Mediator was not yet come." And this is what I think Pope Pius IX was picking up on, like Pope Gregory said, "not so that punishment should light on them..."

      It is my entirely private opinion that children who die without baptism go to Limbo and there they encounter Christ (since Limbo is outside of time) and if their souls believe in Him, then they can be released. We know Chirst went to Limbo 2000 years ago, but that is reckonned in time, but once there, He was no longer within time, and so just because a baby dies today, that doesn't mean he can't encounter Chirst in Limbo, since Limbo is outside of time.

      Delete
  16. Have you noticed how, in the bible, first there are those who are not guilty and yet punished for the guilt of our forefathers - this is called original sin. Then later, we see a kind of a change in m.o. For example, God spares destruction of a guilty town for the sake of a few of the righteous (was it 10?). This was a prefiguring of Jesus Christ too. For the one just man, God has spared the souls of all those born with original sin. We are released from the bond of Original Sin according to the merit of only one just man in the whole world. It was not enough that he did not sin, otherwise Mary could have done the job herself. But the blood had to be spilled, the innocent for the guilty. Sure Mary felt pain and suffered, but her suffering was not His suffering. And so, as the bible decrlares, she too was saved by the lone work of Jesus Christ on the Cross, and in Hell, where his work showed its first fruit.

    Now there is the question of accountability. In the past, we had been punished for other people's sins. Which hardly seemed fair. And in the present, we are freed from damnation for another man's victory over sin. In all respects, it's not really fair either, we didn't "deserve" salvation. If we had, well, it would have defeated the whole purpose of 'redemption'. You can't "earn" as free gift. With what would you pay to the one to whom you owe?

    So, again we must ask what are we accountable for?

    The Church has always recognized an "age of reason". We might be guilty of Original Sin from the moment of Conception, yet before entering a state of reason, we should also not be accountable for our guilt. And this is why children go to Heaven. This is why Jesus himself says, "The Kingdom of Heaven is such as these (little ones)."

    In the end, the verdict is "Guilty', but the sentence is commuted. And they so enjoy the blessed fruit of the Beatific Vision for that reason.

    It's not a matter of guilty or not guilty, sin or not sin. It is the matter of accountability. God is called "merciful" for a good reason, and it is reason enough that Scripture does not need to provide more than it has. All the tools necessary are already present for discovery.

    This is too easy. There is no need to complicate it.

    "Keep It Simple"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What about this, something which I never hear anyone talk about and so I wonder what the deal-breaking flaw is that I'm not seeing (because otherwise it would seem like an obvious solution to me, little though I want to be prideful and claim I've "solved" the mystery)?

      The Holy Innocents (the babies Herod killed) have a feast day and are considered to be the first Christian martyrs. They were not baptized, and never reached the age of discernment, yet for them to have a feast day makes no sense unless they're in Heaven. This suggests that the ultimate destination for unbaptized babies (or at least those killed for the faith) is Heaven--yet they were not baptized, so they did not receive the saving grace of Baptism.

      But at the same time, they committed no personal sins and so don't deserve hell either. What about Purgatory, then? All who enter Purgatory ultimately rest in Heaven, but their sin prevents them from going there right when they die--and those who enter Purgatory don't have mortal sins on their conscience when they die or they'd go to hell. But babies also cannot be baptized by desire because they're not old enough. And why would God allow a baby to be conceived and then let it die before it could be baptized, as with miscarriages, unless the baby had the chance to enter Heaven?

      What then is the deal-breaking flaw that prevents people from saying that it is Purgatory where the unbaptized babies go? Is it simply that, not knowing for sure, we wish to be more humble than to simply guess it? Why couldn't it be that unbaptized babies go to Purgatory, where they are cleansed of original sin but not personal sins, and then enter Heaven?

      I agree with you that not knowing means you're less likely to gamble with the soul of your own child, though--also the possibility occurred to me that, since it's parents who desire baptism for babies, perhaps the children of parents who deliberately choose not to baptize their children suffer for it if they die while still in infancy. Then again, why would a just God punish babies for their parents' sins? So I don't like that idea either. All I will say is that if I ever become a father, my children are getting baptized as soon as possible.

      Delete
    2. That's not entirely correct. After all, you are born once (original sin) and to be born again of water and spirit, to be cleansed and born of above, you need baptism. So you are close to denying both the sacrament of Baptism (washing away of all sins, actual and original) and denying original sin.

      Delete
    3. Wait...how did I get there? I was specifically trying NOT to deny either....

      ...Help, please?

      Delete
  17. The denial of original sin is the foundational heresy of the age.

    The contortions of the good Catholics on this thread- including the author at its head- are nothing other than the bewildered attempt to square the circle, between the clear and unanimous teaching of the Scriptures and Tradition on the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation, and the neo-Pelagian heresy which overcame Catholic institutions before the Council, and which succeeded even in achieving ingress into conciliar documents themselves (in suitably ambiguous language, of course- see "Gaudium et Spes").

    The ITC is among the most poisonous and deadly arms by which heresy and heterodoxy have been widely spread throughout the Church since the council.

    They have denied the historicity of Adam and Eve, as well as the inerrancy of Scripture, and they can say plainly what they mean since they are not part of the heaven-protected magisterium.

    The collapse- the utter, free fall collapse- of the Catholic Faith in the modern world ought to, at some point in the fairly near future, assist even the most bewildered Catholics in coming to understand that we are living in the time of the great apostasy.

    Hold fast to the Faith once delivered.

    The ITC is poison.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rick,

      You didn't actually spell out much of an argument. You made wild charges against the ITC (that you didn't bother substantiating, and which aren't, in any case, remotely relevant to the matter at hand), but you didn't tell us what you believe is the fate of unbaptized infants (are you suggesting Limbo? Or eternal damnation?).

      Since all I have to go off of are your insinuations, let me ask you outright. Is it your argument that:

      (a) ... Scripture and Tradition are clear on the eternal fate of unbaptized infants? If so, I'm sure that Saints Augustine, Aquinas, and Bellarmine would love to have your illumination, b/c it would settle a centuries of dispute between some of the Church's greatest Saints.

      (b) ... Pope Pius IX was a heretic for his statement in Quanto Conficiamur Moerore that God's “supreme kindness and clemency do not permit anyone at all who is not guilty of deliberate sin to suffer eternal punishments”?

      (c) ... the Second Vatican Council, a valid Ecumenical Council, was heretical?

      (d) ... the Catechism teaches damnable heresy in paragraph 1257?

      Additionally, if you impose your own reading of Scripture and Tradition over and against a valid Ecumenical Council, papal encyclicals, the Catechism, and the living Magisterium, in what sense are you a Catholic?

      You've got the same bluster that Francisco (above) had, but in the opposite direction. In both cases, it's an unfounded cocksureness. You didn't bother to provide a single shred of evidence to substantiate your claims. Yes, we are absolutely bound to be Baptized.

      No, God is not bound to damn the unbaptized, as the Catechism reminds us. Nor is this some sort of Modernist or Pelagian heresy. St. Justin Martyr's belief that Socrates was a Christian (by virtue of his faithfulness to the Logos) is sufficient to show that, contrary to your claim, Scripture and Tradition do not claim that everyone who has ever died without Baptism was unsaved.

      I.X.,

      Joe

      Delete
  18. My statements concerning ITC's denial of Adam and Eve;s historicity and the inerrancy of Scripture are true. I assumed that these facts were widely enough disseminated to be obvious.

    Google will privde instant confirmation if such should be needed.

    a) Limbo, of course, is the consistent theological solution to the question of the add of unbaptized infants.

    It is, after all, the one which Catholic theology developed in its better years.

    As opposed to its recent years, which are a disaster unprecedented in history.

    b) Of course not. Limbo precisely answers the question; that is, unbaptized infants *do not* suffer eternal punishments.

    c) The Second Vatican Council was preserved from heresy by the promise of the Holy Spirit. The modernists employed the best tool remaining; an ambiguity of formulation which opened the door to diametrically opposed interpretations of its texts. If you have not yet noticed this, my condolences

    d) CCC #1257 is a resplendent.confirmation of the dogma "outside the Church there is no salvation".

    It would be helpful were you to suggest in what possible way a Catholic in good standing who believes every dogma of the Faith, exactly as it has been formulated by the solemn magisterium, can possibly be anything *other* than a Catholic.

    Socrates died before the promulgation of the Gospel.

    Trent Session IV states:

    : "In these words there is suggested a description of the justification of the impious, how there is a transition from that state in which a person is born as a child of the first Adam to the state of grace and of adoption as sons of God through the second Adam, Jesus Christ our savior; indeed, this transition, once the gospel has been promulgated, cannot take place without the laver of regeneration or a desire for it, as it is written: Unless a man is born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God (John 3:5)."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rick,

      Since you're making the claim, can you provide some positive proof that the ITC actually denied that Adam and Eve existed? Because in para. 53 of the document I linked to, they refer to them as if they existed.

      If you think you can just follow what you imagine Church teaching to have been in a long-past (and half-imagined) Golden Age, while ignoring what the Church today is actually teaching, you're grossly misunderstanding the Magisterium, and the obedience you owe Her.

      When I say half-imagined, what I mean is that you don't appear to have a very solid grasp on what the Church Fathers actually said about Limbo. For example, it's ironic, and more than a bit amusing, that you would claim that a denial of Limbo is neo-Pelagian. The Pelagians affirmed the existence of Limbo; the acrimony surrounding Pelagianism ultimately led St. Augustine, who initially believed in Limbo, to deny it.

      Centuries later, Augustinian opponents of Limbo accused those who believed in Limbo of being Pelagians, as is clear from reading Auctorem fidei, in which Pope Pius VI condemns this name-calling as “false and rash and slander of the Catholic schools,” without expressing judgment one way or the other on Limbo itself.

      I would suggest you similarly flirt with false, rash, slanderous accusations against Holy Mother Church, the Second Vatican Council and and the living Magisterium. As for the Catechism, CCC # 1257 expressly says that “God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments,” which teaching you apparently think is false and contrary to the canons of Trent.

      If you can point to any instance in which the Catholic Church today, yesterday, or at any point, solemnly affirmed Limbo, great. Otherwise, all your talk on “the clear and unanimous teaching of the Scriptures and Tradition” is just false bluster.

      I.X.,

      Joe

      Delete
  19. The mission of Christ was to conquer sin and death to establish His Kingdom. Limbo is a place of eternal rest for those with original sin but without serious personal sin. The damned in hell retain thier personal sins but are not part of God's Kingdom. The concept of limbo would have it that its saved are in God's kingdom but are in the state of original sin eternally. To my thinking this is contrary to Christ's mission.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Tony:

    Thankfully, we have the Catholic Church to supply us antidotes to the best thinking of men.

    The antidote to your best thinking is found in the Fourth Session of the Council of Trent above, which your best thinking cannot encompass, but to which the Catholic *must* grant the assent of Faith.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Implicit in Tony's objection, y the way, is a direct confirmation of my original statement above.

    The denial of original sin is, again, the foundational heresy of this age.

    If one assumes that babies are born entitled to the Kingdom of heaven, one has departed the Catholic Faith and denied original sin.

    Now this might not be popular in today's environment, but then the Truth of the Gospels include hard saying which have never been popular at all.

    Here is one:

    "Unless a man is born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God"

    ReplyDelete
  22. Rick,

    Nobody is denying the existence of Original Sin here. Nor does anybody deny that the ordinary means of the removal of Original Sin is water Baptism. But despite your proof-texting, the Catholic Church affirms at least two other means by which God removes the stain of original sin: Baptism of blood, and Baptism of desire.

    The sole question is whether God removes the stain of original sin for infants in ways other than these three means, where these three means are rendered impossible to them. Suggesting that this means that anyone is denying Original Sin makes it clear that you're misunderstanding the issue at hand.

    I.X.,

    Joe

    ReplyDelete
  23. "Nobody is denying the existence of Original Sin here."

    >> Actually, it appears that Tony is, directly. He states that the unbaptized infant is entitled to the beatific vision, while the Church states that unbaptized infants cannot enter the Kingdom of heaven since the promulgation of the Gospel *because* of original sin.

    So I am afraid your first assertion is questionable.

    "Nor does anybody deny that the ordinary means of the removal of Original Sin is water Baptism."

    >> The term "ordinary means" appears nowhere in any dogmatic formulation of the Church's Faith. The Church's Faith states:

    "indeed, this transition, once the gospel has been promulgated, cannot take place without the laver of regeneration or a desire for it, as it is written: Unless a man is born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God (John 3:5)."

    It seems you wish to implicitly reformulate the Dogma as "cannot ordinarily take place...."

    I cordially decline to receive any such self-anointed revision of a solemn definition of an ecumenical council.

    "the Catholic Church affirms at least two other means by which God removes the stain of original sin: Baptism of blood, and Baptism of desire"

    >> There is no dogmatic formulation of baptism of blood, and the point is irrelevant in any case, since *baptism* is still required to translate a soul from the state of original sin.

    Baptism of desire requires, on the part of the recipient, the desire for *it*; that is, for *baptism*.

    Therefore this question is not relevant to the consideration of the fate of *unbaptized* infants.

    "The sole question is whether God removes the stain of original sin for infants in ways other than these three means,"

    There is only one means, not three, and there is no question at all.

    The answer is:

    "this transition, once the gospel has been promulgated, cannot take place without the laver of regeneration or a desire for it, as it is written: Unless a man is born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God (John 3:5)"


    "where these three means are rendered impossible to them"

    >> To "them"? Pardon me, God has foreseen from all eternity the circumstances surrounding every soul He has created, and He has seen fit to assure us that *no other means* exist.

    Now you apparently wish to supply a correction to Him on this score, and I cordially decline to receive it.

    "Suggesting that this means that anyone is denying Original Sin makes it clear that you're misunderstanding the issue at hand."

    >> To the contrary. This exchange serves to confirm that a strong current among present American Catholics involves an implicit denial of the necessity of baptism for salvation; hence an implicit denial of Original Sin.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rick,

      First of all, how is Tony denying Original Sin? He said the exact opposite of what you're claiming he said. Did you read his comment?

      As for water Baptism being the ordinary (but not the exclusive) means whereby Original Sin is removed, CCC 1258 says: “The Church has always held the firm conviction that those who suffer death for the sake of the faith without having received Baptism are baptized by their death for and with Christ. This Baptism of blood, like the desire for Baptism, brings about the fruits of Baptism without being a sacrament.

      Do you deny the existence of Baptism of blood? You dance around it by saying that there's never been a "dogmatic formulation," but it's undeniably part of the Catholic faith.

      So I don't think it's me who's guilty of "self-anointed" revisionism. I'm holding to the faith of the Catholic Church, as expressed in Her universal Catechism. You're taking your own interpretation of a single canon from Trent over and against the Church's own explicit sacramental understanding.

      So no, saying that there's "no question at all" about this shows only your own certainty with your own opinions. The Catholic Church has never expressly concluded anything on this issue, and has, in fact, studiously avoided affirming or denying the existence of Limbo. For the Church, there very much is a question on this.

      Finally, your closing paragraph repeats the same argument that to believe in an extraordinary means by which God could remove Original Sin besides any of the three forms of Baptism would be to deny Original Sin. But that's flagrantly false. I expressly affirmed Original Sin in the opening paragraph of this post, as have numerous other posters here. You remain apparently dead-set on ignoring this in favor of a strawman you're inaccurately describing as Pelagianism.

      I.X.,

      Joe

      Delete
    2. Joe:

      Tony denies original sin by asserting that it were contrary to Christ's mission to deny the beatific vision to unbaptized infants.

      This is a direct denial of Christ's own Words, as well as the dogmatic definition of the Council of Trent, again:

      " indeed, this transition, once the gospel has been promulgated, cannot take place without the laver of regeneration or a desire for it, as it is written: Unless a man is born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God (John 3:5)."

      Baptism of blood has never been dogmatically promulgated by any Pope or Council, and hence remains a theological permitted opinion, one which I do not share, since a Council defining states, to the contrary:

      "The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his Angels, unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the Sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church." [Pope Eugene IV, the Bull Cantate Domino, 1441]

      I do not dance, Joe.

      I leave that to those uncomfortable with the dogmas of our Holy Faith, as they tend to collide uncomfortably with modern sensibilities.

      You are invited to initiate a canonical action against me if it is your opinion that I am bound to grant assent of Faith to baptism of blood, because I do not.

      Delete
    3. How can you claim that Baptism by blood is both "a theological permitted opinion" and contrary to a conciliar definition?

      If it's contrary to a conciliar definition it is, by definition, not a theologically permitted opinion.

      Both of these claims, in addition to being contradictory, are wrong. The Catechism teaches Baptism of blood and teaches that it is the ancient Faith of the Church. Again, CCC 1258:


      The Church has always held the firm conviction that those who suffer death for the sake of the faith without having received Baptism are baptized by their death for and with Christ. This Baptism of blood, like the desire for Baptism, brings about the fruits of Baptism without being a sacrament.”

      I.X.,

      Joe

      Delete
    4. I wish I didn't have to repeat myself but here goes.

      "There is a long tradition for such a legitimate hope, but properly understood, St.Thomas said that infants "can nevertheless be subjected to the action of God, in whose presence they are living, in such wise that they achieve sanctification by some privilege of grace, as is evident regarding those who have been sanctified in the womb"

      And Ludwig Ott writing about a half century ago states, "Other emergency forms of baptism for children dying without sacramental baptism, such as prayer and desire of the parents or the Church, or the attainment of the use of reason in the moment of death, so that the dying child can decide for or against God, or suffering and death of the child as a quasi-Sacrament, are indeed, possible, but their actuality cannot be proved from Revelation."

      So it is plain that theologians have long recognized this possibility, and what is more Dr.Ott actually cites various authorities (including I believe, Cajetan and Suarez) in substantiating the above point.

      I'll just add the very wording Trent uses in describing the necessity of baptism is taken almost verbatim from the Summa, which I quoted above, which was greatly revered by the Council Fathers there, and which shows your understanding of that decree is mistaken.

      Many perils trouble the Catholic Church today, but they are only sent to try our faith in the divine promise. Beware, my dear friend, of thinking yourself more traditional than the Magisterium, more Catholic than the successor of Peter who was promised an unfailing faith in the Gospel. God bless.

      Delete
    5. Joe asks:

      "How can you claim that Baptism by blood is both "a theological permitted opinion" and contrary to a conciliar definition?

      If it's contrary to a conciliar definition it is, by definition, not a theologically permitted opinion.


      >> Quite to the contrary. Oftentimes in the course of discerning a dogma, doctrine, or the development of either, the Church will permit theological opinions which are at variance with the conciliar definition.

      For example, the Church permits the theological opinion of limbo for unbaptized infants, even though the conciliar definition states:

      "The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his Angels, unless before death they are joined with Her."


      Joe: "Both of these claims, in addition to being contradictory, are wrong."

      >> Instead, as we see, they are neither contradictory, nor are they wrong.


      Joe:" The Catechism teaches Baptism of blood and teaches that it is the ancient Faith of the Church. Again, CCC 1258:


      “The Church has always held the firm conviction that those who suffer death for the sake of the faith without having received Baptism are baptized by their death for and with Christ. This Baptism of blood, like the desire for Baptism, brings about the fruits of Baptism without being a sacrament.”


      >> Baptism is a dogma of the Faith. Baptism of blood is not. It is heretical to deny the former, but it is not heretical to question the latter.

      Delete
    6. Rick,

      I'm not positive I understand your claim. In the context of Baptism of Blood (which you falsely asserted was both a mere theological opinion, and in opposition to conciliar definition, while the Catholic Church declares it to be an ancient part of the Faith), you write:

      "Oftentimes in the course of discerning a dogma, doctrine, or the development of either, the Church will permit theological opinions which are at variance with the conciliar definition."

      Is it your understanding that the Catholic Church can dogmatically define something, and then permit as a theological opinion doctrines that are odds with that definition?

      And if so, please provide a source (outside of your own personal Magisterium) supporting this understanding of Catholicism.

      I.X.,

      Joe

      Delete
    7. Joe:

      Please provide the papal encyclical, conciliar definition, or other Acta which defines baptism of blood as a dogma requiring the assent of Faith.

      Hint: You can't because it does;t exist.

      Catechisms are norms and guides, they do not constitute binding definitions of the Faith, and often include opinions of varying degrees of certainty. For example, the Catechism teaches against the death penalty, and all Catholics are perfectly free to hold to the previous formulations in support of it.

      Since the Church does not require the assent of Faith to the doctrine of baptism of blood, but does require the assent of Faith to baptism, the distinction which I hoped to bring more clearly to your attention......

      Now has been.

      Delete
    8. Rick,

      You completely avoided answering my question. This is becoming a waste of time and effort.

      You continue regurgitating the same two or three pull-quotes that you've been using (over and over and over), despite the fact that none are specific to the question of unbaptized infants, and like the New Testament texts addressed in the original post, assume a capacity to be Baptized, or at least a capacity to desire Baptism.

      You continue to bind where the Church has loosened, requiring everyone to hold to a theory of Limbo that the Church doesn't require them to hold to.

      You continue to mischaracterize, whether intentional or otherwise, those who don't agree with you, falsely hurling accusations that they/we deny Original Sin, are Neo-Pelagians, believe in universal salvation, and the like.

      Where you're called out on specific false claims you've made (as with the claim that it's Pelagian to deny Limbo, which Auctorem fidei shows couldn't have been much more incorrect), you simply dismiss it, and go on.

      Where you're asked to provide specific support for your claims, outside of your own personal Magisterium, you simply ignore it.

      In the end, you act as nothing so much as a Protestant Fundamentalist. You've got a handful of passages (Biblical, in their case; conciliar and papal, in yours) that you think everyone should interpret the same way you do, and without listening to the living Magisterium, or seriously attempting to understand the issue with any degree of depth, you close-mindedly repeat the same arguments on loop.

      St. Augustine had the humility to concede that there were issues about the transmission of original sin that he didn't understand, and he wrote to St. Jerome and St. Optatus on this matter, yet you rush in where Saints fear to tread.

      My suggestion to you: start with the Catholic Encyclopedia's entry on Limbo. You'll immediately realize that the issue is far more complex than you understand it to be. Then read what the Catholic Church says on this (since, whether you realize it or not, the authority of the Magisterium isn't limited to formal definitions requiring the assent of faith*).

      I.X.,

      Joe

      *"Wherefore, by divine and Catholic faith all those things are to be believed which are contained in the word of God as found in Scripture and tradition, and which are proposed by the Church as matters to be believed as divinely revealed, whether by her solemn judgment or in her ordinary and universal Magisterium." - First Vatican Council, Dei Filius 8).

      Delete
    9. Joe, it seems we are talking pat each other at this point, so I will limit my response to correcting actually false imputations on your part:

      "You continue to bind where the Church has loosened, requiring everyone to hold to a theory of Limbo that the Church doesn't require them to hold to."

      This is false.

      I have explicitly and on several occasions stated that limbo is a theological opinion which all are free to reject.

      It would be great if you could acknowledge this.

      "Where you're called out on specific false claims you've made (as with the claim that it's Pelagian to deny Limbo, which Auctorem fidei shows couldn't have been much more incorrect), you simply dismiss it, and go on."

      >> The truth is I have never linked Pelagianism to limbo in any way at all, but instead linked it in a modern form to certain ambiguous formulations in Gaudiam et Spes, which happens to be entirely irrelevant to our discussion.

      It would be great if you could acknowledge this.

      "Where you're asked to provide specific support for your claims, outside of your own personal Magisterium, you simply ignore it."

      >>Since I have repeatedly had recourse to definitions of the magisterium, this claim is also false.

      It would be great if you could acknowledge this.

      Please be assured as to the rest that I shall give it every consideration to which it is objectively entitled.

      And now the sum of the matter:

      "In these words there is suggested a description of the justification of the impious, how there is a transition from that state in which a person is born as a child of the first Adam to the state of grace and of adoption as sons of God through the second Adam, Jesus Christ our savior; indeed, this transition, once the gospel has been promulgated, cannot take place without the laver of regeneration or a desire for it, as it is written: Unless a man is born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God (John 3:5)."

      That is our Faith.

      That is what I believe.

      Delete
    10. Rick,

      Thanks. Your last comment was somewhat helpful.

      1) You're right, I should have been more precise. You appear to permit us to disbelieve in Limbo, so long as we believe in something else that isn't salvation or damnation (which sounds indistinguishable from Limbo). Either way, this is still more restrictive than what the Church permits us to believe in.

      2) As for you linking those who disbelieve in Limbo with Pelagians, it certainly appears that you did so in your very first comment, when you said:

      The contortions of the good Catholics on this thread- including the author at its head- are nothing other than the bewildered attempt to square the circle, between the clear and unanimous teaching of the Scriptures and Tradition on the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation, and the neo-Pelagian heresy which overcame Catholic institutions before the Council, and which succeeded even in achieving ingress into conciliar documents themselves (in suitably ambiguous language, of course- see "Gaudium et Spes").

      But I'll take your word for it that you were raising a point that is "entirely irrelevant to our discussion."

      3) For the record, I (and I think everyone else here) believes in Canon 4 of the Council of Trent. I simply don't think it means what you think it means... nor do I think that it's the sum total of our Faith. I would warn you that nearly every heresy in the history of the Church has taken one truth, while denying another (that seemed, in the mind of the heterodox, to be contradictory to the first truth). The great Saints (like Pope St. Gregory the Great, in the quotation Deliveringit quoted above) hold the two seemingly-contradictory truths. This has been the history of the Church on everything from the Trinity and the Dual Natures of Christ, to Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus.

      I.X.,

      Joe

      Delete
    11. Joe:

      My sincere thanks for the clarifications.

      I do not require Catholics (as if I had any authority to "require" anything!) to believe anything other than what has been taught by the magisterium at levels of authority which compel the assent of Faith.

      Limbo is not one of those things.

      The necessity of baptism for the translation from child of Adam to child of God, is.

      It is quite true that a great deal of ferment on this question is underway.

      I think we both intend to defend our respective positions strongly, and I think we have done so.

      I remain personally convinced that this ferment has had a very deleterious effect on the conception of original sin, and this in turn has led to a collapse in the Church's missionary activity.

      This is of course also my opinion, with which you or anyone else is free to disagree.

      Delete
  24. Mr. Heschmeyer:

    I note you demurred from posting the infamous paragraph #53 from the ITC.

    Since you have now googled it, please be good enough to present this here for all to see in its entirety.

    Let us examine whether this formulation conveys the Catholic Faith, or some strange novelty logically involving interbreeding between apes and proto-humans.

    Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rick,

      Here's the "infamous" paragraph # 53 in its entirety. We'll see if you know what you're talking about:

      "53. The universal salvific will of God through Jesus Christ, in a mysterious relationship with the church, is directed to all humans, who according to the faith of the church are sinners in need of salvation. Already in the Old Testament the all-pervading nature of human sin is mentioned in almost every book.

      The Book of Genesis affirms that sin did not find its origin with God but with human beings, because God created everything and saw that it was good (cf. Gn 1:31). From the moment the human race began to increase on the earth, God had to reckon with the sinfulness of humankind: "The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." He was even "sorry that he had made man on the earth" and ordered a flood to destroy every living thing except Noah, who found favor in his eyes (cf. Go 6:5-7). But even the flood did not change the human inclination to sin: "I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth" (Gn 8:21).

      The Old Testament writers are convinced that sin is deeply rooted and pervasive in humanity (cf. Prv 20:9; Eccl 7:20, 29). Hence the frequent petitions for God's indulgence, as in Psalm 143:2: "Enter not into judgment with thy servant; for no man living is righteous before thee" or in the prayer of Solomon:

      "If they sin against thee — for there is no man who does not sin... if they repent with all their mind and with all their heart... then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place their prayer... and forgive thy people who have sinned against thee" (1 Kgs 8:46ff).

      There are some texts which speak of the sinfulness from birth. The psalmist affirms: "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me" (Ps 51:7). And the statement of Eliphaz — "What is man, that he can be clean? Or he that is born of a woman, that he can be righteous?" (Jb 15:14; cf. 25:4) — is in agreement with Job's own convictions (cf. Jb 14:1, 4) and those of other biblical writers (cf. Ps 58:3; Is 48:8).

      In wisdom literature there is even a beginning of reflection on the effects of the sin of the ancestors Adam and Eve on the whole of humankind: "But through the devil's envy death entered the world, and those who belong to his party experience it" (Wis 2:24); "from a woman sin had its beginning, and because of her we all die" (Sir 25:24).8"

      So go ahead. Where do you see in this "infamous paragraph" that the ITC either "denie[s] the historicity of Adam and Eve," or teaches "some strange novelty logically involving interbreeding between apes and proto-humans"?

      I.X.,

      Joe

      Delete
    2. My apologies, Joe.

      It was paragraph #63, not #53, which infamously sets forth the framework for the New Understanding:

      "Since it has been demonstrated that all living organisms on earth are genetically related, it is virtually certain that all living organisms have descended from this first organism. Converging evidence from many studies in the physical and biological sciences furnishes mounting support for some theory of evolution to account for the development and diversification of life on earth, while controversy continues over the pace and mechanisms of evolution. While the story of human origins is complex and subject to revision, physical anthropology and molecular biology combine to make a convincing case for the origin of the human species in Africa about 150,000 years ago in a humanoid population of common genetic lineage."

      Several points.

      First, the statement "(s)ince it has been demonstrated that all living organisms on earth are genetically related, it is virtually certain that all living organisms have descended from this first organism" is simply a logical fallacy, an elementary blunder which is embarrassing, except for its blithe intent to impose the evolutionary world view upon Catholics.

      There is simply not the slightest logical connection between "genetically related" and "descended from a common ancestor", since the Creator could as easily have chosen a genetic template which He employed in a Creation process- of course it is this latter view which is consistent with the text of Genesis as well as the unanimous consensus of the Fathers concerning its interpretation.

      Second, "physical anthropology and molecular biology combine to make a convincing case for the origin of the human species in Africa about 150,000 years ago in a humanoid population of common genetic lineage."

      Except that it is in infallible dogma of our Faith that Eve was created directly, by a miraculous intervention of God, *from Adam*, and not from the interbreeding of pro to humans in Africa 150,000 years ago.

      Needless top say, sin and death will have entered the world long before Adam and Eve, under the "proto-humans" hypothesis.

      Also needless to say, any theological adoption of this "pro to-humans" balderdash will of necessity gravely undermine the concept of Original Sin.

      Which, as we see in your article and the associated comments, has in fact happened.

      Delete
  25. At the time of the final judgment, we can logically assume there will be many in the state of original sin for one of many reasons. Yet all are separated as sheep and goats with no revealed in between. I trust in the Mercy of God which is beyond our understanding to grant the means of salvation to all for He came and died to save all. Limbo as an eternal resting place for those in original sin doesn't fit with Our Lord's mission to conquer sin and death. If original sin is removed from those in Limbo at some point this would lead to other issues relating to justification. My point is I don't believe Limbo is the answer for the unbaptized who die without serious personal sin. I do believe everyone in God's infinite mercy receives the means of salvation and therefore there is no need to postulate a limbo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. T: "At the time of the final judgment, we can logically assume there will be many in the state of original sin for one of many reasons.
      "

      >> There is only one reason for being in the state of original sin; that is, the reason that one has been conceived as a consequence of the union of a man and a woman (in other words, every single human person, apart from the Blessed Virgin Mother of God, is conceived in the state of original sin).


      T: Yet all are separated as sheep and goats with no revealed in between.

      >> That is because the sheep have been baptized for the remission of original and personal sins, and have persevered in grace unto death.

      The goats have not. Limbo its not "in between", limbo is simply the place where those unbaptized but without personal sin go. These cannot receive the beatific vision, and hence are not adopted into the Kingdom. The theological genius of the doctrine lies in its recognition that perfect natural happiness and contentment are the lot of the unbaptized in limbo, since they have not earned the torments of hell by personal sin.

      Again, I personally find limbo so overwhelmingly superior to the sentimentalist mishmash proceeding from the "universal salvation" school, that I am astonished that anyone could take any other permitted opinion seriously.

      Of course, they are free to do so within the proscribed limits of our Holy Faith.


      T: I trust in the Mercy of God which is beyond our understanding to grant the means of salvation to all

      >> Certainly all have the means of salvation available to them. It is called "baptism" and "perseverance in faith hope and charity". Those who depart this life without baptism (and let us recall that this is completely foreseen and foreknown from all eternity by God) cannot enter the kingdom of heaven- precisely *because* they exist in a state of original sin.

      This is a defined dogma of our Holy Faith.


      T: for He came and died to save all.

      >> And yet not all are saved. Your universalism is showing.


      T: Limbo as an eternal resting place for those in original sin doesn't fit with Our Lord's mission to conquer sin and death.


      >> The Catholic Church does not agree with you. Therefore it is a choice between Tony and the Church. I'll go with the Church, which says:

      "...this transition, once the gospel has been promulgated, cannot take place without the laver of regeneration or a desire for it, as it is written: Unless a man is born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God".


      T: If original sin is removed from those in Limbo at some point this would lead to other issues relating to justification.

      >> Original sin is never removed after death. That is another dogma of our Faith.

      T: My point is I don't believe Limbo is the answer for the unbaptized who die without serious personal sin. I do believe everyone in God's infinite mercy receives the means of salvation and therefore there is no need to postulate a limbo

      >> You are free, again, to reject the theological opinion of limbo. You are not free to slander Christ as a failure because some do not avail themselves of the salvation available through baptism and perseverance in Faith Hope and Charity, nor are you free to proclaim Him a failure because God has permitted some to die without baptism, and also without personal sin, and nonetheless keeps His Word:

      ".....this transition, once the gospel has been promulgated, cannot take place without the laver of regeneration or a desire for it, as it is written: Unless a man is born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God."

      Delete
  26. Google isn't letting me type my name for some reason. I am the same "unknown" in the places above as well.

    Xavier.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Xavier:

    My difficulty with your response is that it substitutes the "possibility" recognized by theologians, for the "dogmas" formulated under heaven's protection by the magisterium.

    This conflation is a very widely employed one these days, especially where one wishes to "update" or "make more modern" the authentic formulations of the magisterium, which, unlike the theological speculations, involve the protection of heaven against error.

    Therefore, it is perfectly admissible to say that "God can save anyone He wishes by any means He wishes".

    To proceed from this tautology, to the proposed logical conclusion that therefore baptism is not necessary for salvation, is precisely the ruse by which novelty and heterodoxy have metastasized so dramatically throughout the Church, and especially since the Council.

    The appropriate response of the faithful Catholic in such times is to hold fast to the dogmatic formulations of Holy Mother Church, which cannot possibly have been seduced by any lying novelties.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Tony:

    Certainly you are free to reject the theological opinion of limbo, but not at the price of the denial of the necessity of baptism for the salvation of every soul.

    If you wish to propose that God might possibly save the unbaptized through some unknown means, and then proceed to insist upon the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation on the grounds that *this is what God has in fact said*, then fine.

    Otherwise, you seek to impose upon God your own notions of how He ought to Be, in order to satisfy your best thinking on the matter.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Hi Rick, just a couple of things quickly. Do you know the very passage you cite in Florence is based on a text of St.Fulgence, and St.Fulgence believed in baptism of desire. In fact, St.Alphonsus, Doctor of the Church, said baptism of desire is de fide.

    Xavier

    ReplyDelete
  30. Xavier:

    Thanks for the info, but again, baptism of desire is not an opinion, but a defined dogma of our Holy Faith (Trent Session IV).

    I would care not a whit about the opinion of any given Saint on a question, if it should contradict a definition of the magisterium.

    For this reason I ignore St. Thomas on the Immaculate Conception, without in the slightest degree concluding that his opinions on other questions ought therefore be ignored.

    Conflation, Xavier, is never a path to logical clarity.

    ReplyDelete
  31. thanks for the article.

    I was wondering what does "Shameless Popery" mean?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unabashed Catholicism. The name was originally given in jest by one of my Calvinist friends, when I was having trouble coming up with a good blog title. I liked it, and kept it.

      Delete
  32. You need to listen to this: http://www.audiosancto.org/sermon/20070422-Contra-Sedevacantism-and-the-Recent-Document-on-Limbo.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jordan,

      That was a great homily. Thank you. I hope Joe responds to it because he says things that are contrary to it. Though, the priest that gave this homily may very well be incorrect also but he did give many quotes to back his position and I don't see where he misinterpreted them.

      Thanks,
      Michael

      Delete
    2. The priest has the authority of the Church on the matter behind him; there's no doubt he's correct.

      Delete
    3. Hold on just a second there before declaring victory. What exactly is the priest saying contrary to the post above? And what do you mean that he has "the authority of the Church on the matter behind him"?

      I've tried numerous times to listen to that homily, but every time I pause it or try to move ahead or backwards, the whole thing starts over. I've only made it about 13 1/2 minutes in, and don't really want to start over. Can you just summarize what it is that he's saying, and I'll respond to any actual substantial point?

      I.X.,

      Joe

      Delete
    4. Joe,

      Right click on the web page while it is playing and "save as". This will save the mp3 to your desktop where you can listen to it via a media player.

      Michael

      Delete
  33. Joe, let me make some points that we all seem to agree on and then ask some questions.

    We seem to agree that...
    1- one must be baptized to go to heaven; period the end.
    2- one can be baptized Sacramentally, by desire, and also by blood
    3- whether we accept baptism of blood or not, it does not seem to come into play here since the unborn is not making a reasoned effort to die for the faith, however, some argue that the unborn are equal to the Holy Innocents, though the Holy Innocents were likely circumcised under the Old Covenant.
    4- there seems to be no teaching that says baptism of desire cannot be achieved by the desire of the parent on behalf of the child, even though traditionally, one must desire it for himself.

    I think Baptism of Desire is a possibility but must not be taught as the norm since the Church has never applied it to one on behalf of another. This could cause people to be lax on baptisms for a child that has not reached the age of reason.

    Why would the Church teach that one must be baptized as soon as possible if the desire for it would suffice, either desired by the person or another on their behalf?

    What would be the great victory for Satan, if the aborted babies gained Heaven? I see abortion as evil because of it's fruits. If the fruit is ultimately good (heaven), then what is the big deal with abortion? The person that procures the abortion still has a chance for repentance and can still be saved.

    My understanding and position is that those aborted will go to limbo, but those miscarried may go to limbo or heaven depending on how Baptism of Desire is applied.

    Your thoughts?

    Thanks,
    Michael

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Michael,

      Good questions. My thoughts:
      1- one must be baptized to go to heaven; period the end.
      This certainly appears to be correct, as long as we don't falsely equate this with water (or Sacramental) Baptism, since the Church clearly teaches, as you note in # 2.

      3- whether we accept baptism of blood or not, it does not seem to come into play here since the unborn is not making a reasoned effort to die for the faith,...
      The Holy Innocents don't seem to have made a "reasoned effort" to die for the faith, either.

      however, some argue that the unborn are equal to the Holy Innocents, though the Holy Innocents were likely circumcised under the Old Covenant.
      Certainly, most of them would have been, but it's very much possible, since Herod's orders applied to everyone from newborns to two year-olds, that there were uncircumcised children amongst those slain. Certainly, I know of no Church tradition that says that all of the Holy Innocents were circumcised.

      In fact, the other Scripture example I mentioned seems to clearly involve the death of an uncircumcised Jewish boy. We know that sons were circumcised on the eighth day (Lev. 12:3; Luke 1:59; Lk. 2:21), yet David's son died on the seventh (2 Sam. 12:18). That David still holds to a reasonable hope for reunion would seem to suggest that, under the Old Covenant, some uncircumcised children may have entered Heaven. So I don't think it's necessary to presuppose that the Holy Innocents were all circumcised, and I don't think that the Church does presuppose this.

      4- there seems to be no teaching that says baptism of desire cannot be achieved by the desire of the parent on behalf of the child, even though traditionally, one must desire it for himself.

      I know of no direct teaching from the Magisterium. If I'm not mistaken, St. Thomas rejects this option, though.

      Why would the Church teach that one must be baptized as soon as possible if the desire for it would suffice, either desired by the person or another on their behalf?

      This same objection could be raised for adults. Every adult that the Church baptizes is one who first desired that Baptism. But the Church doesn't decide that, given this desire, they no longer need Baptism. Sacramental Baptism is a much surer foundation than desire, even though both suffice.

      What would be the great victory for Satan, if the aborted babies gained Heaven? I see abortion as evil because of it's fruits. If the fruit is ultimately good (heaven), then what is the big deal with abortion?

      Satan desires the destruction of the holy: the death of their soul, or barring that, their body. Hence, martyrdom. We don't say, "what's the big deal about martyrdom," since the martyrs are going to Heaven.

      And it's precisely because of this errant reasoning that God has chosen to shroud the question of the fate of the unbaptized in mystery.

      The person that procures the abortion still has a chance for repentance and can still be saved.

      That's true of virtually every mortal sin. Does that mean mortal sin isn't a "big deal"?

      I.X.,

      Joe

      Delete
    2. Joe,

      You make some good points and they are well taken. Mortal sin is a very big deal since our physical death is unknown. My intent was not to make light of it, but trying to stress that the death of an unbaptized infant is even worse since there is no time left for repentance, and we know God's mercy ends at death as judgement begins. Abortion is a big win for Satan, a victory that surpasses most other offenses; surely you wouldn't disagree with that. Since it is the great sin of our time and many other times, I can't think the fruits of it would be rather benign toward the murdered unborn. From Satan's perspective, if the murdered unborn went to heaven, then he should think of some other great sin to lure us into, one that has more sting, though I am not sure what that could be.

      I am just thinking out loud and enjoy your comments back, it causes me to reflect more on the situation.

      Thanks,
      Michael

      Delete
    3. Michael,

      Don't worry, I'm enjoying this discussion. I would reiterate that Satan enjoys the death of the martyrs (and of the Holy Innocents), yet we know that they went on to eternal bliss. At least in part, it's about corrupting the souls of those who do the killing; it's probably also mindless evil. I suppose I don't see a reason to buy the argument "abortion is bad, Satan enjoys it, therefore the murdered unborn must not go to Heaven," without also buying the argument, "Christian persecution is bad, Satan enjoys it, therefore the martyrs must not go to Heaven." What am I missing?

      I.X.,

      Joe

      Delete
    4. Well, the persecuted Christians are not really in the same boat as the unborn, since they ALL would have committed at least one personal sin, so their fate is completely unknown to us for that reason alone. Also, is the Church's declaration of canonization an act of infallibility? Really, I want to know because I have heard that it is not. Unlike you, I do not take the mortal body into consideration in this conversation since it amounts to nothing and will pass away. The soul is what matters here so a martyred Saint is certainly a crime for the perp since it severs the soul from right relation with God, but at the same time, it is a great victory for the one slain for the faith. What greater gift, if understood properly, could one receive than being slain victoriously for the Christian faith? Abortion does not have this quality since the crime is negative for both parties.

      Christ said one must be born again via water and spirit (baptism), not "one must be martyred" to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. When a statement like this is made with a clear "need" for something; the devil will surely try to prevent that "need" from happening. Only abortion prevents this need for baptism, not martyrdom or any other sin due to the other forms of baptism. To wrap this up, it seems somewhat clear that we just don't know how Baptism of Desire can be applied and seems to be the only option outside Sacramental Baptism for the unborn to go to Heaven. But then, many still apply Baptism of Blood to the unborn because of the Holy Innocents. However, the Holy Innocents died directly because of Christ, not just for Him; they were slain in His place. Surely Christ's Divine favor should rest upon them as the Church teaches. Also, the Holy Innocents that were circumcised are saved under the Old Covenant(but only through Christ in the New) and those not circumcised yet because of age would have died by Baptism of Desire by proxy of their parents, if we are allowed to go there. I shall pray for the unborn, nonetheless.

      Take care,
      Michael

      Delete
  34. Joe thank you for this wonderful, clear, hope-filled post! As someone who has lost two babies to miscarriage, the concept of Limbo has always troubled me--and yet the reality is that Scripture and the Church do NOT explicitly teach that these babies automatically go to Heaven. At any rate, I so appreciated your words, and I will continue to hope to see my two little ones again one day in Heaven.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Hey! I'm a regular reader, new poster to your blog, and I have a question concerning John the Baptist's lack of Original Sin.

    As far as I can tell, the Church has not make a formal statement on whether or not JtB was actually born without Original Sin. Could you provide me with your source that proves otherwise? Much appreciated!

    Nick

    ReplyDelete
  36. Very good article, but I would add one amendment. You say Augustine harbored serious doubts about what happens to unbaptized babies who die. No, he was explicit about this matter: He believed -- and said so in very certain terms -- that unbaptized babies who die suffer the torments of Hell. This is not a matter for debate; it is an observation of fact. The Jansenists and those who honored Jansenist principles, were stern Augustinians in their thinking, and all of them, including Blaise Pascal, concluded that these babies are in Hell. My reading of everything the Church has taught about the matter since Augustine's time seems to indicate that the Church simply does not agree with the former Bishop of Hippo. I am very glad that is the case.

    ReplyDelete
  37. This is the crux of the matter. The component missing is that the Blood of Christ saves, not an act of baptism.
    A loving God would never harm the innocent ones.

    The thief on the cross was not baptized and he was in paradise that day for believing.
    The solution is Jesus not water. But this is the matter for the living.

    All those AnaBaptists died for nothing. Because the answers are the same, unbaptized babies go to the Father.
    People think in the physical terms vs. spiritual.
    As in you must be born again and eat my flesh......but Jesus was speaking spiritual words.

    If all we need is water, then we do not need the Cross.
    But the water immersion reflects the change of a new believer who has died and raised again like Christ.
    If water saves, then we need to start dropping water on our big cities and Islamic countries.
    Maybe a rain can be used instead. Or we can desire them to be saved.

    Outside the Blood of Christ all is confusion.



    ReplyDelete
  38. You should probably back up a few steps before deciding about baptized babies going to heaven or hell. Exactly how clear is it that there is a heaven and a hell, or that adults are going there? And don't be confusing the heavens (sky) or the kingdom of heaven with heaven as a destination. The Bible is actually amazingly unclear if the intention were to teach us about destination heaven and destiantion hell !!!

    ReplyDelete