October 4, 2006
Meanwhile, back in the Dark Ages:
The Pope will cast aside cen-
turies of Catholic belief later this week by abolish-
ing formally the concept of lim-
bo, in a gesture calculated to help to win the souls of millions of babies in the developing world for Christ.
All the evidence suggests that Benedict XVI never believed in the idea any-
way. But in the fertile evangelisation zones of Africa and Asia, the Pope — an acknowledged authority on all things Islamic — is only too aware that Muslims believe the souls of stillborn babies go straight to Heaven. For the Church, looking to spread the faith in countries with a high infant mortality rate, now is a good time to make it absolutely clear that stillborn babies of Christian mothers go direct to Heaven, too.
… Even though it has never been part of the Church’s doctrine formally, the existence of limbo was taught until recently to Catholics around the world. In Britain it was in the Penny Catechism, approved by the Catholic bishops of England and Wales, that declared limbo “a place of rest where the souls of the just who died before Christ were detained”.
But its lack of doctrinal authority has long failed to impress the Pope. who was recorded as saying before his election: “Personally, I would let it drop, since it has always been only a theological hypothesis.”
This week a 30-strong Vatican international commission of theologians, which has been examining limbo, began its final deliberations. Vatican sources said it had concluded that all children who die do so in the expectation of “the universal salvation of God” and the “mediation of Christ”, whether baptised or not.
The theologians’ finding is that God wishes all souls to be saved, and that the souls of unbaptised children are entrusted to a “merciful God” whose ways of ensuring salvation cannot be known. “In effect, this means that all children who die go to Heaven,” one source said.
Well, that’s a relief. But not for everyone:
The Pope is expected to abolish only “limbus infantium”, where the souls of unbaptised infants go. The precise status of “limbus patrum”, where the good people went who lived before Christ remains . . . well, in limbo.
You expected an enlightened and clearcut decision? From this particular Pope?
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