Monday, April 30, 2007

Catholic Church on What Happens to Babies in the Afterlife

Commenting on the recommendation of the Vatican International Theological Commission to eliminate the concept of limbo, Michelle Tsai, writing for Slate, offers some interesting thoughts on past efforts by church leaders to resolve the final destination of baby souls in the afterlife. It's nice that today there is a growing theological awareness of God's mercy, because just a few centuries ago St. Augustine was offering this:

The fate of unbaptized babies has confounded Catholic scholars for centuries. According to church catechisms, or teachings, babies that haven't been splashed with holy water bear the original sin, which makes them ineligible for joining God in heaven. At the same time, as innocent beings, they surely don't deserve eternal torment. St. Augustine concluded in the fourth century that the babies must be punished in the fire of hell, but only with the “mildest condemnation.”

(original piece here)