Sorry, no unbaptized babies allowed!

Catholics like to believe their church is the unchanging, “one true church,” but even aBFC casual student of church history knows Catholic theology has always been evolving.

I’m currently reading “Catholicism Against Itself, Volume 2” (1965) by O. C. Lambert and there’s one bit of information I came across that I’d like to focus on.

We all know Catholics view baptism as the initial gateway to Heaven. It was once believed that if a person wasn’t baptized they couldn’t go to Heaven. Period. This belief extended to infants. Personnel at Catholic hospitals were instructed to go to great lengths to baptize all newborns who were in danger of dying.

Although never “official” doctrine it was widely disseminated by the church that the souls of unbaptized babies went to a place in hell called “limbo.” Furthermore, unbaptized babies were not permitted to be buried in Catholic cemeteries.

[Long pause for effect]

You read that right. Babies who were not baptized were refused burial in “blessed” Catholic cemeteries.

“If (the fetus or child is) not baptized, it should be buried in unconsecrated ground, without any religious rites.” – Quizzes on Hospital Ethics (1946), 57-58. See also the Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), 11, 267, Administrative Legislation (1930) 87, and Medical Ethics (1949), 245.

These days the Catholic church no longer talks about limbo. It now states that it “hopes” all unbaptized infants will go to Heaven. – CCC 1261.

When did the change in church doctrine take place? Canon 1183 in the 1983 edition of Canon law replaces the no-burial-for-unbaptized-babies policy found in the 1917 Canon however the mourning family must still obtain the permission of the presiding bishop to bury their unbaptized dead child in a Catholic cemetery.

I shake my head in sadness for all the bereaving families who had to endure this grievous offense. Catholic bishops wouldn’t allow unbaptized infants to be buried in their cemeteries but they allowed pedophile priests and members of organized crime.

“For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.” – Matthew 23:4-5

“Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” – Matthew 19:14

“And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 18:3

The Gospel – salvation by God’s grace through accepting Christ as Savior by faith – is so simple even a child can understand, unlike the mile-long, legal laundry list, one-year RCIA indoctrination that Catholicism imposes. There’s no salvation in trying to obey your way to Heaven.

“Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” – Romans 3:20-22



5 thoughts on “Sorry, no unbaptized babies allowed!

  1. Not to mention, who was it that baptized the guy on the cross with Jesus who was told Jesus would see him in paradise. Who are we to tell God what He can and cannot do? If He wants to save all children, who’s going to stop Him?


    1. Yes, the thief on the cross and the repentant tax collector were justified without baptism. The Catholic church has worked itself into a dichotomy. On the one hand they insist their sacraments are still necessary for salvation but then they also say people of all religions and even atheists are able to merit Heaven if they “follow the light they are given” and are “good.” I imagine more than a few “lapsed” Catholics thought, “Why am I participating in all this liturgical rigmarole when the church says atheists are going to heaven too?”


  2. Actually, “Baptism of Desire” and “Baptism of Blood,” though not replacing the Sacrament of Baptism, have traditionally been taught and accepted by the Catholic Church as being as good as expressed baptism. We have evidence that St. Gregory Nazianzen, for example, taught this doctrine as early as A.D. 381. Also, the Magisterium of the Church is humble enough to admit that it is not quite sure exactly what happens to I baptized babies since they have no way / no use of reason to express faith in God. But for pastoral and other reasons, Pope Emeritus (retired) Benedict XVI, based upon rigorous study, decided to let go of the tradition of limbo as an alternative answer. So our position is, and really has always been, we are not really sure if unbaptized infants enter heaven in communion with God. We don’t eliminate the option.


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