What Happened to Limbo?


The 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church declares:

“It is clear therefore that, in the supremely wise arrangement of God, sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, and the Magisterium of the Church are so connected and associated that one of them cannot stand without the others. Working together, each in its own way, under the action of the one Holy Spirit, they all contribute effectively to the salvation of souls.” (Pg. 29, #95)

According to this quote, the catholic church teaches that the Bible, the church’s traditions and teachings, and the mageisterium (the task of giving an accurate interpretion of the Bible) are of equal importance. (See also Pg. 25, #82.) Magisterium and tradition/doctrine are just as much the Word of God as the Bible according to the teachings of the catholic church.

“Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit. And (Holy) Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. ” (Pg. 26, #81)

If church tradition is as important as the Bible, then why would it change?

Although limbo had no firm scriptural basis, and was thus never an official church doctrine, it remained a major part of church tradition; as well as, a defining image of Catholicism. It remained strong in 1905, when Pope Pius X stated plainly: “Children who die without baptism go into limbo, where they do not enjoy God, but they do not suffer either.”

Ideas began to change with the reforms of the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s, when the church held that everyone, baptized Christians or not, could be eligible for salvation through the mystery of Jesus’s redemptive power.

Pope John Paul II continued the decline of limbo, omitting the term from the most recent catechism and last year (2004), not long before his death, he asked the theological commission to officially consider the question of unbaptized babies; apparently because of his concern for the fate of aborted fetuses.

—Based on “Church tradition of limbo heading for, well, limbo”
by Ian Fisher, in The New York Times, December 28, 2005.

Additional comments
Last week in Rome, theological advisers to Pope Benedict XVI expressed a consensus that limbo, the afterlife state reserved for the unbaptized innocent, does not exist. Never formally defined as doctrine, limbo had nevertheless found a firm place in the religious imagination of many Christians [Roman Catholics].

Limbo’s symbolism long seemed to mitigate the harshness of a theology that said only those formally initiated into Christianity through baptism can gain admittance to heaven, although by banishing the innocent to a lesser state (“natura” happiness as opposed to beatific bliss), limbo carried a harshness of its own.

Now the church is acknowledging that the passion and authority once invested in limbo, however “unofficially”, can yield. Limbo is an invented symbol that can be left behind.

So then church tradition was changed? How confusing is that? If the pope is infallible, why would the traditions from former popes not be infallible? Why would the pope’s words change? Why would the council’s words change? All three of the catholic church’s “foundations” must work together: Bible, tradition/teachings and magisterium. So when something does not continue, then who is wrong?

God’s Word never changes! What else has changed in the catholic church? What else could be changed that is part of tradition? What other traditions are not scripturally based? We will have more of this to follow. My friend, do not be deceived. God has not left you to be ignorant. The Word says that Christ is the only one who is righteous. Anyone else, including the catholic pope, is fallible. (Rom 10:3) For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. (Rom 10:4) For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. (emphasis mine). The catholic church has gone about establishing their own righteousness and are forgetting the Word of God. Only Christ is righteous and only His Word should be followed – not the doctrines of men which are one day enforced and another day removed.

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About Maranatha

Desire to be a testimony for the Lord Jesus Christ and to lead others to Him!
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