St Francis Q&A

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Madison is coming home!!

I saw Madison Mehlferber this morning at the rehab center. She is coming home June 2!! She is doing very well, especially considering that she’s been in the hospital and rehab center for the past 3 months. She and her parents are amazing! God is sooo good! Thank you all for your prayers.
“Night Owl” asked, “If a baby dies at 6 weeks of age and she was not baptized does the baby have a shot of going to heaven or does she end up in limbo?” Timely question! The Church recently issued a statement about the question of whether babies who die without being baptized can go to Heaven. Here are excerpts from an online article about the statement; to view the full text, please click on the title of this post:

“…In a document published April 20, (the Vatican's International Theological Commission) said the traditional concept of limbo -- as a place where unbaptized infants spend eternity but without communion with God -- seemed to reflect an "unduly restrictive view of salvation."

The church continues to teach that, because of original sin, baptism is the ordinary way of salvation for all people and urges parents to baptize infants, the document said.

But there is greater theological awareness today that God is merciful and "wants all human beings to be saved," it said. Grace has priority over sin, and the exclusion of innocent babies from heaven does not seem to reflect Christ's special love for "the little ones," it said.

"Our conclusion is that the many factors that we have considered ... give serious theological and liturgical grounds for hope that unbaptized infants who die will be saved and enjoy the beatific vision," the document said.

"We emphasize that these are reasons for prayerful hope, rather than grounds for sure knowledge," it added…

The commission's document said salvation for unbaptized babies who die was becoming an urgent pastoral question, in part because their number is greatly increasing. Many infants today are born to parents who are not practicing Catholics, and many others are the unborn victims of abortion, it said.

Limbo has never been defined as church dogma and is not mentioned in the current Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states simply that unbaptized infants are entrusted to God's mercy.

But limbo has long been regarded as the common teaching of the church. In the modern age, "people find it increasingly difficult to accept that God is just and merciful if he excludes infants, who have no personal sins, from eternal happiness," the new document said.

Parents in particular can experience grief and feelings of guilt when they doubt their unbaptized children are with God, it said.

The church's hope for these infants' salvation reflects a growing awareness of God's mercy, the commission said. But the issue is not simple, because appreciation for divine mercy must be reconciled with fundamental church teachings about original sin and about the necessity of baptism for salvation, it said…

This does not deny that all salvation comes through Christ and in some way through the church, it said, but it requires a more careful understanding of how this may work.

The document outlined several ways by which unbaptized babies might be united to Christ:
-- A "saving conformity to Christ in his own death" by infants who themselves suffer and die.
-- A solidarity with Christ among infant victims of violence, born and unborn, who like the holy innocents killed by King Herod are endangered by the "fear or selfishness of others."
-- God may simply give the gift of salvation to unbaptized infants, corresponding to his sacramental gift of salvation to the baptized.”


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