Saturday, April 28, 2007

Limbo, RIP

But where there's sickening heresy, there's also good news: Pope Benedict XVI has approved a theological study essentially doing away with the concept of Limbo.
After several years of study, the Vatican's International Theological Commission said there are good reasons to hope that babies who die without being baptized go to heaven.

In a document published April 20, the 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."

...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.
I'm happy to see Limbo go the way of all flesh. As I wrote earlier, Limbo (thankfully) has no place in Orthodoxy. In our history:
St. Gregory of Nyssa "On Infants' Early Deaths" wrote "the innocent babe has no such plague before its soul's eyes obscuring its measure of light...it does not need the soundness which comes from purgation, because it never admitted the plague into its soul at all." Infants "partake only so far in that life beyond (which consists, according to our previous definition, in the knowing and being in God) as this nursling can receive; until the time comes that it has thriven on the contemplation of the truly Existent as on a congenial diet, and, becoming capable of receiving more, takes at will more from that abundant supply of the truly Existent which is offered." Thus, he says the infant begins at the level upon which he/she has experienced and responded to God (a low level, to be sure) but holds out the promise of eternal advancement or as the Western Rite Liturgy of St. Tikhon says, "continual growth in Thy love and service."

Russian Orthodox Bishop HILARION (Alfeyev) weighed in on the subject, writing tersely that the historical Orthodox teaching on unbaptized babies "is opposite to the teaching of Thomas Aquinas." The Orthodox Office of Prayer and Supplication for the Victims of Abortion, prayed by H.G. Bp. BASIL, for instance, implores God, "[W]e humbly pray, according to Thy unfailing promise: grant the inheritance of Thy kingdom to the multitude of spotless infants who have been cruelly murdered."
Even Martin Luther understood and taught that infants had faith. With this move, the pope removed one of Orthodoxy's outstanding objections to RCC theology. (And brought his church into the 16th century. ) :) I'm happy for the change.

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