WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

Limbo under threat

The Holy See’s International Theological Commission is examining the notion of limbo and may be on the verge of scrapping it.

Ad Kronos International (AKI) reports that the Vatican appears set to abolish the Catholic tradition that holds that the souls of children who die before being baptised go to limbo.

Citing a report in Turin, Italy newspaper, La Stampa, AKI says that the issue is being discussed by the commission, a body of Catholic theologians from around the world that advises the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

According to Catholic tradition, Limbo is for children as well as holy men and women who died without being baptised.

According to the 1904 catechism published by Pope St Pius X in 1904, children who died without baptism go to limbo where they do not enjoy God but don’t suffer either. Because they have original sin, they do not deserve paradise, nor hell or purgatory.

The church however has for a long time stopped referring to the concept of Limbo and in 1984 theologian Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, said that limbo ‘was never a truth of the faith’.

‘I would let it drop as this has always only been a theological hypothesis,’ he said.

According to the fathers of the church, the concept of limbo is that people who lived good lives but died before the resurrection did not go to heaven, but rather had to wait for Christ to open the gates of heaven.

The term limbo does not appear in the bible but the concept appears twice as the ‘bosom of Abraham’ – the blissful state where the righteous dead await their eternal reward.

This corresponds to the fathers’ concept of limbo as a period of waiting for paradise.