The Limbo of the Infants

As a corollary to the necessity of Faith and Baptism for salvation, St. Thomas also taught that unbaptized babies went to the Limbo of the Children (Summa Theologica. III, Q. 52, a. 7). But later the rigorist Jansenists taught that unbaptized babies rather went to the fires of hell, and they called the Limbo of the Children a “Pelagian Heresy.” Their teaching was condemned by Pope Pius VI in 1794:

“The doctrine which rejects as a Pelagian fable that place of the lower regions (which the faithful generally designate by the name Limbo of the Children) in which the souls of those departing with the sole guilt of original sin are punished with the punishment of the condemned, exclusive of fire, just as if by this very fact, that those who remove the punishment of fire introduced that middle place and state, free of guilt and punishment between the kingdom of God and eternal damnation, such as that about which the Pelagians idly talk: [Condemned as] false, rash, injurious to Catholic schools (Denz. 1526).”

Today there are many Catholics agitating for the abolition of the Limbo of the Children for the sake of getting the souls of aborted babies into heaven. This is really out-Pelagianing Pelagius. It seems that this will only encourage abortion. If a woman is hesitating about having an abortion, and someone tells her that her aborted baby would go directly to the Beatific Vision, this could push her over the brink. [Editor’s note: We have heard of at least one case in which two women were considering committing abortion. When they were encoraged by a Catholic friend to hear a bishop speak on the issue, they decided to go. The result? After they heard the bishop say that aborted babies go straight to heaven, they went right out and had the abortions.]

(This was originally published in From the Housetops as a sidebar of an article called Pelagius Lives)