Limbo consigned to history books
Limbo has long been held to be the place where the souls of children go if they die before they can be baptised. However, a 30-strong international commission of theologians summoned by the late John Paul II last year to come up with a “more coherent and illuminating” doctrine in tune with the modern age is to present its findings to Pope Benedict XVI on Friday.
Vatican sources said yesterday that the commission would recommend that Limbo be replaced by the more “compassionate” doctrine that all children who die do so “in the hope of eternal salvation”.
In Christian doctrine, Heaven is a state of union with God, while Hell is separation from God. Christians have long wrestled, however, with the thorny question of what happened to those who died before Jesus, who “brought Man salvation”, as well as the fate after death of children who die in the womb.
Although there is no basis for it in Scripture the traditional answer is Limbo, from the Latin limbus, meaning a hem, edge or boundary. It is described as the temporary resting place of “the souls of good persons who died before the resurrection of Jesus” (limbus patrum) and the permanent home in the afterlife of “the unbaptised who die in infancy without having been freed from original sin” (limbus infantium).
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