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Mary Lee wrote:

Hi guys,

  • What is the Catholic Church's current teaching or belief about Limbo?
  • Where do un-baptized babies go?

Mary Lee

  { What is the Catholic Church's current teaching or belief about Limbo? }

Mike replied:

Hi Mary Lee,

I believe my colleagues John, Eric and Mary Ann have addressed your question in this posting.
If not, just e-mail us again.


John replied:

Hi Mary Lee,

Limbo was never a teaching of the Church. It was simply popular theological opinion that was promulgated. It was never a doctrine held by universal Magisterium.

The Church entrusts the souls of un-baptized children to the Mercy of God who desires all to be saved.

Additionally, the Church has always recognized other kinds of baptisms besides the normative form of water baptism.

  • Those who have been martyred for the faith prior to baptism received their baptism in their martyrdom. That is call baptism of blood.

  • There are those who die as catechumens awaiting baptism. These people are presumed to have been baptized by desire.

  • Then there are those Christians who don't know of the necessity of baptism. In this case, it may be supposed that if they understood the necessity of baptism, they would receive it. Check out these paragraphs from the Catechism.

Finally, as it relates to those who, through not fault of their own, have never heard or understood the Gospel (and along with it, the need to be baptized): The Church entrusts these folks to the Mercy of God, knowing that He desires all men to be saved.

The Church acknowledges that She is limited to preach the gospel and baptize; hence fulfilling the Great Commission, however, God's grace is not subject to the same limitations He puts on His Church.

Therefore God can save:

  • whom He wants
  • when He wants, and
  • where He wants.

It is important to realize that the Church has never officially taught that particular people are in Hell. While we know Sacred Scripture teaches many will go there, it is not for the Church to pronounce who those people are.


Mary Ann replied:

Hi Mary Lee,

One little addition to John's excellent answer: As for those who through no fault of their own, have never heard the Gospel, the Church teaches that the Light enlightens every man who comes into the world and that those who follow the Light by following their conscience, seeking truth and goodness, can be saved.

As for unbaptized babies, I am with John Paul II, who wrote, "they are living in the Lord." He who receives one such little child, receives Me, said the Lord.

There are many Scriptures (David and his deceased infant son, for instance) that give foundation for belief in the salvation of unbaptized babies. The Church will eventually articulate her confidence in God's Mercy in a way that expresses this.

In any case, "In my Father's house there are many mansions."

Mary Ann

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