Dead unbaptised infants throughout the universe are undoubtedly breathing a sigh of relief at this breaking news from the Vatican (as reported by Reuters):
The Roman Catholic Church has effectively buried the concept of limbo, the place where centuries of tradition and teaching held that babies who die without baptism went. In a long-awaited document, the Church’s International Theological Commission said limbo reflected an “unduly restrictive view of salvation.”
Pope Benedict, himself a top theologian who before his election in 2005 expressed doubts about limbo, authorized the publication of the document, called “The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptised.”
So, it took the Catholic church 2000 years to figure out the inequity of Limbo. I’ve got to give the Church credit, though. Those theologians showed their true character when they put their collective heads together and got the job done. Check out the key parts of the Commission’s report:
“The conclusion of this study is that there are theological and liturgical reasons to hope that infants who die without baptism may be saved and brought into eternal happiness even if there is not an explicit teaching on this question found in revelation,” it said.
“There are reasons to hope that God will save these infants precisely because it was not possible (to baptize them).”
Limbo, which comes from the Latin word meaning “border” or “edge,” was considered by medieval theologians to be a state or place reserved for the unbaptized dead, including good people who lived before the coming of Christ.
“People find it increasingly difficult to accept that God is just and merciful if he excludes infants, who have no personal sins, from eternal happiness, whether they are Christian or non-Christian,” the document said.
So let’s see if I can follow the Catholic Church’s new-fangled reasoning here . . . hmmmm . . . Don’t punish innocent babies. I think I understand . . .
Now that the Church has figured out that God should be kind to innocent babies, perhaps the Church (as the supreme teacher of morals for hundreds of millions of people) can turn its attention to some other important issues. For example, 1) whether it’s OK for a priest to have sex with a young altar boy and 2) whether it’s OK for a married couple to use birth control to decide how many babies to have in a world that is already congested. I’ll be setting my clock for a few thousand years to give the Church sufficient time to ponder these additional issues.