Vatican Report Abolishes Concept of Limbo

By Tracy Wilkinson
Los Angeles Times
Saturday, April 21, 2007

Rome — Limbo has been in limbo for quite some time, but is now on its way to extinction.

A Vatican committee that spent years examining the medieval concept published a much-anticipated report on Friday, concluding that unbaptized babies who die may go to heaven.

That could reverse centuries of Roman Catholic traditional belief that the souls of unbaptized babies are condemned to eternity in limbo, a place that is neither heaven nor hell. Limbo is not unpleasant, but it is not a seat alongside God.

Catholic doctrine states that because all humans are tainted by original sin thanks to Adam and Eve, baptism is essential for salvation. But the idea of limbo has fallen out of favor for many Catholics who see it as harsh and not befitting a merciful God.

The Vatican’s International Theological Commission issued its findings — with the approval of Pope Benedict XVI — in a document published by the Catholic News Service, the news agency of the U.S. Bishops Conference. The commission is advisory, but the pope’s endorsement of the document appears to indicate his acceptance of its findings.

Limbo, the commission said, “reflects an unduly restrictive view of salvation.”


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