Reprieve for limbo after theologians meet
VATICAN, Oct. 9, 1006 (www.cathnews.com) - A Vatican document on the concept of limbo is still incomplete and the International Theological Commission will continue work for another year in an attempt to further refine the Catholic understanding of what happens to unbaptised babies after death.
While no one can be certain of the fate of unbaptised babies who die, Christians can and should trust that God will welcome those babies into heaven, members of the Vatican's Commission told Catholic News Service at the conclusion of their 2-6 October meeting in Rome.
The commission had met to continue work on a statement explaining why the concept of limbo entered the common teaching of the Church, why it was never officially defined as Catholic doctrine, and why hope for their salvation makes more sense, said commission member Fr Paul McPartlan.
"We cannot say we know with certainty what will happen" to unbaptised babies, Fr McPartlan said, "but we have good grounds to hope that God in his mercy and love looks after these children and brings them to salvation."
Fr McPartlan, a professor at the Catholic University of America in Washington, said the 30 commission members were in agreement on the main thesis of the document, but they had not put the finishing touches on it.
If they vote on the final version by mail, the document could be released in 2007.
He said that while affirming people's hope, the document takes pains to explain the Christian belief that baptism is necessary to guarantee salvation and urges parents to baptise their infants.
The document "in no way means to lessen the urgency with which the church invites parents to have their children baptised," said Fr McPartlan.