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April 21, 2007 at 4:33 pm #138393JaxKeymaster
Catholic Church Reverses Teaching on Limbo
By NICOLE WINFIELD
VATICAN CITY (April 21) – Pope Benedict XVI has reversed centuries of traditional Roman Catholic teaching on limbo, approving a Vatican report released Friday that says there were “serious” grounds to hope that children who die without being baptized can go to heaven.
Theologians said the move was highly significant – both for what it says about Benedict’s willingness to buck a long-standing tenet of Catholic belief and for what it means theologically about the Church’s views on heaven, hell and original sin – the sin that the faithful believe all children are born with.
Although Catholics have long believed that children who die without being baptized are with original sin and thus excluded from heaven, the Church has no formal doctrine on the matter. Theologians, however, have long taught that such children enjoy an eternal state of perfect natural happiness, a state commonly called limbo, but without being in communion with God.
“If there’s no limbo and we’re not going to revert to St. Augustine’s teaching that unbaptized infants go to hell, we’re left with only one option, namely, that everyone is born in the state of grace,” said the Rev. Richard McBrien, professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame.
“Baptism does not exist to wipe away the “stain” of original sin, but to initiate one into the Church,” he said in an e-mailed response.
Benedict approved the findings of the International Theological Commission, a Vatican advisory panel, which said it was reassessing traditional teaching on limbo in light of “pressing” pastoral needs – primarily the growing number of abortions and infants born to non-believers who die without being baptized.
While the report does not carry the authority of a papal encyclical or even the weight of a formal document from the Vatican ‘s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, it was approved by the pope on Jan. 19 and was published on the Internet – an indication that it was intended to be widely read by the faithful.
“We can say we have many reasons to hope that there is salvation for these babies,” the Rev. Luis Ladaria, a Jesuit who is the commission’s secretary-general, told The Associated Press. He stressed that there was no certainty, just hope.
The Commission posted its document Friday on Origins, the documentary service of Catholic News Service, the news agency of the American Bishop’s Conference.
The document traces centuries of Church views on the fate of unbaptized infants, paying particular attention to the writings of St. Augustine – the 4th century bishop who is particularly dear to Benedict. Augustine wrote that such infants do go to hell, but they suffer only the “mildest condemnation.”
In the document, the commission said such views are now out of date and there were “serious theological and liturgical grounds for hope that unbaptized infants who die will be saved and enjoy the beatific vision.”
It stressed, however, that “these are reasons for prayerful hope, rather than grounds for sure knowledge.”
No one can know for certain what becomes of unbaptized babies since Scripture is largely silent on the matter, the report said.
It stressed that none of its findings should be taken as diminishing the need for parents to baptize infants.
“Rather … 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.”
Vatican watchers hailed the decision as both a sensitive and significant move by Benedict.
“Parents who are mourning the death of their child are no longer going to be burdened with the added guilt of not having gotten their child baptized,” said the Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University.
He said the document also had implications for non-Christians, since it could be seen as suggesting that non-baptized adults could go to heaven if they led a good life.
“I think it shows that Benedict is trying to balance his view of Jesus as being central as the savior of the world … but at the same time not saying what the Evangelicals say, that anyone who doesn’t accept Jesus is going to hell,” he said in a phone interview.
The International Theological Commission is a body of Vatican-appointed theologians who advise the pope and the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Benedict headed the Congregation for two decades before becoming pope in 2005.April 21, 2007 at 10:21 pm #143777JacenParticipant
Baptism does not get you into heaven. The problem with the concept that baptism grants you access to heaven is that it contradicts the Bible, which Catholicism is supposed to be based on.
The Kind James Bible, which is widely considered to be the most accurate collection of Bible books as it was translated directly from the Hebrew and Latin versions as they were originally written, states quite plainly that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven. “Those who believe in me [Christ] are saved”, as it says.
Now, I know there are few to none here who might believe in that, but I know quite specifically that the Catholic Bible purposely leaves out the verses that detail Christ’s teaching that he is the way to salvation. They simply omit those lines of text.
Thus a convoluted path to salvation is born, where baptisms, communions, confessions, and the like are invented as how you gain favor from God. I can tell you with great certainty that this is not the case.
The single thing that pleases God most, as is taught in Christianity, is FAITH.April 21, 2007 at 10:26 pm #143778JaxKeymaster
Personally, I don’t believe that there is anywhere to go but ‘heaven’. But everyone’s experience of heaven and the afterlife will be different. It’s possible to keep yourself out of heaven, and be in a place of limbo. This is a place where you are of spirit, but are holding yourself in whatever place you’ve created by your beliefs. But there is no God keeping you there, it is all you.
I know this because that is what my wife deals with on a constant basis. She attempts to convince beings that have passed that they can go somewhere else once they allow it. It’s not an easy thing to do, but it is her life’s work it appears. Thus, ‘hell’ exists if you create it. Limbo exists, if you create it. But God is not doing that.April 22, 2007 at 10:00 am #143789inariParticipant
That sounds a bit like that movie ‘What dreams may come’, Jax.April 22, 2007 at 6:13 pm #143801JaxKeymaster
I’ve never seen it. But it’s mentioned by Neale occasionally as an example, so I would have to say yes it does. lolApril 23, 2007 at 6:53 pm #143824Silver TalonParticipant
I am a Christian and I agree with what you say; baptism doesn’t get you to heaven. The only way to get to heaven is through Jesus. The Bible says over and over that it is through the name of Jesus that we are saved. Strange then that most of those that believe in baptism invoke the Father, Son and Holy Ghost and not the saving name of Jesus?
It is only through our faith in Jesus that we are saved. The single thing that pleases God most is Faith – I concur.
However, James rightly tells us that if someone comes to us naked and without food and we tell them “Leave in peace, being filled and warm.” without actually providing clothing and food then the words are empty. Faith without works is dead.
Do we really have faith in Jesus if we just claim the faith but refuse to be obedient to His will? I believe that baptism is a demonstration of that faith. It’s the “works” that gives faith life.
In ancient Hebrew marriage ceremonies the wife would plunge into water and then come out of it symbolizing rebirth, taking on the new name of her husband. She would go in the water as her old self and through that motion would demonstrate her commitment to leave her family, her name, her childish ways behind her and come up a new person in a new family with a new name as a mature person.
The religious ceremony of baptism is much the same. A person shows their commitment to become a new person – the Bride of Christ, metaphorically speaking – taking on the name of Jesus. Again, it’s a demonstration of commitment and faith.
Further reading Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Acts 19:5April 24, 2007 at 3:56 am #143832blacksh33pParticipant
and what’s more, regardless of what the church decides, there are two main things that are required for spiritual improvement.
love your neighbor as yourself.
upon those two things rest the entire law and the prophets according to christ’s own words.
no matter what you believe, no matter how much faith you have, no matter how many works you do, if you don’t actually demonstrate your love for god (with your whole heart, your whole mind and your whole soul) and if you don’t love your neighbor as yourself than it’s all in vain. doctrine, dogma, attendance, tithes, mean nothing if you don’t do these two things. and the thing is, as jesus said, loving your neighbor as yourself is the same as loving god. and who is your neighbor? even those you despise the most.April 24, 2007 at 8:16 pm #143837Silver TalonParticipant
I absolutely agree. There are far too many people out there that are claiming to be Christians but forgetting that Love is key. Too many people choose to hate and judge others in the name of God – that’s not the will of God. The primary will of God is to love. It’s not my job to judge people and condemn them for their actions. I have enough problems in my own life that will condemn me. I need to work on my own salvation before I start sticking my nose into other peoples. So meanwhile I’ll love them because they are just like me – people striving to do their best.April 25, 2007 at 3:54 am #143850Kai-AnParticipant
Agreed. I am catholic and I’d be the first to admit that the church has a lot of doctrine/dogma that simply needs to go. However change happens slowly. Baptism, confession, and similar rituals only have meaning if you truly try to understand and follow the teachings of Jesus, which is love, pure and simple. They are partially symbolic, but partially important. Confession is almost meditative for me. It allows me to just release all the negative feelings I sometimes have towards myself to a trusted preist. I’m getting better at doing this by myself, just talking to God and hearing him respond, but confession is a time to spend time at church by myself and just think. It’s good for me.
This change of Benedicte’s may seem a little random or pointless, but honestly, any forward change in the Catholic Church is a good sign. Benedicte is proving to be a little more radical than many of the cardinals would like. He wrote a doctrine in the last year or so aknowledging that homosexuality was natural, not just satan tempting straight people… *facepalm* Sometimes the church is so backwards… luckily you don’t have to follow all the dogma to be Catholic.) Still, progress. It takes a while for the Church to admit what most christians know for fact in their hearts.
Kai-AnMay 15, 2007 at 8:47 am #144054JohnParticipant
Water is in many cultures, including the biblical, the symbol for death. To be immersed in this and come out again is nothing more than rebirth. Admittedly it developed into being a kind of ticket to heaven, but in actual fact it is a sacrament (God`s mark). The baptised person is no longer of the “flesh” but of the “spirit”. This explains why for example the dove descended onto Jesus. Limbo/pergatory is in no way biblical, but a kind of Church concoction. The so called souls in Hell have had it anyway, but what would be better for the Church than souls for whose freedom you can pay. This means nothing more than power and money! When you think about it none of this makes sense. The personification of Love, namely God, punishes or bans forever his children. In the eternal vastness of his mercy he draws a line and denies his creation salvation. If he does deny anyone would this not mean that he has made a mistake? If everything that exists comes from God how can there be an existance in Hell outside God? Maybe its time for reforms in the Church, getting rid of disasterous blunders.
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