Catholic priest gives out wrong information about fictitious “Limbo”

Yesterday morning, I was listening to the 4/25/14 podcast of the “Calling All Catholics”bup talk radio show (The Station of the Cross, 101.7 FM, Buffalo, NY) featuring Jesuit priest, Marty Moleski, and moderator, Gina Zanicky-Weiss. A listener, Ken, called in with a question for Moleski  regarding the film, “Heaven is for Real*.” According to Ken, the movie implied that infants who were miscarried or aborted ended up in Heaven. But Ken was troubled by that message because he remembered being taught as a young Catholic in parochial school that unbaptized infants and young children who died didn’t go to Heaven but were consigned to a place called “Limbo” and he asked Moleski for clarification.

Moleski replied that Catholic theologians of years past proposed the existence of Limbo as a place for unbaptized young children. He wrongly stated that Limbo was thought to be a compartment of Heaven, adding the caveat that those who were consigned to Limbo were not able to “participate fully in the beatific vision.” Moleski went on to say the Catholic church never endorsed the theory of Limbo as official dogma. The current Catholic catechism states that the church hopes unbaptized young children go to Heaven when they die.

However, Moleski’s assertion that Catholic theologians taught that Limbo is a part of Heaven is certainly NOT true. Most Catholic theologians taught that Limbo was either a part of Hell, on the edge of Hell (limbus means “hem” or “border”), or between Hell and Heaven, but definitely NOT a part of Heaven. See here. Baptism is such an important part of Catholic salvation theology that it was inconceivable to Catholic theologians that any soul could achieve Heaven without it (with the exception of martyrs).

Also, while Catholicism may have never “officially” endorsed the notion of Limbo for unbaptized infants, the teaching was widespread throughout Catholicism and appears in my copy of the Baltimore Catechism with the imprimatur of Cardinal Spellman (“Limbo: The place where unbaptized infants go.” – from The New Saint Joseph Baltimore Catechism, No. 2, 1991 edition, p. 248 with the imprimatur of Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York).

The concept of Limbo was taught century after century by the church and was promoted by such notables as saint Thomas Aquinas. If the teaching was incorrect, as the church now admits, why didn’t one of the many “infallible” popes step in and correct the error? And if the church now hopes all unbaptized infants go directly to Heaven if they die, why are workers at Catholic hospitals still instructed to baptize infants who are in danger of dying?

Evangelicals believe from God’s Word that young children and others who are incapable of accepting Christ go to Heaven when they die.

“Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 19:13-14

Do babies and others incapable of professing faith in Christ automatically go to heaven?

*Endnote: I have never seen “Heaven is for Real” and I don’t endorse it.

14 thoughts on “Catholic priest gives out wrong information about fictitious “Limbo”

  1. I had no idea that “workers at Catholic hospitals still instructed to baptize infants who are in danger of dying”!. Right now in Canada where I reside the RCC is fighting hard to end so-called “assisted suicide” aka euthanasia and are strong anti-abortion proponents, which I believe to be the right thing. So why do they stick to paedobaptism? The RC Apologists must be working overtime, if not let’s make them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. My information about Catholic hospital staff baptizing dying infants is anecdotal information from a radio priest but you can find snippets here and there via the internet. We certainly couldn’t expect to find a controversial hospital directive published on the web.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jim. Every once in a while one of the priests messes up on the air, which I’m happy to pass along. Because it is so complicated, Catholic theology takes its followers down a lot of rabbit holes, which I’m happy to point out. I’m still waiting for someone to tell me if eating a Chicken in a Biskit cracker on a Friday during Lent will doom a Catholic to Hell.

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  2. Tom, about the “Beatific Vision,” while I haven’t studied this much or read a solid Bible refutation of it, I believe that it too is manmade doctrine. So much of what the RCC teaches about the Last things is false. I do know that, yes, limbo is taught – I had to learn about this in school. Heartless, I didn’t realize what this would mean for these little ones. You’re right to stress the Lord’s invitation to bring them to Him. You’re right about the complications of their system. Lies need more fabrications to bolster them. It makes me sad and angry.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Maria. I hear so much about the “beatific vision” on Catholic talk radio that it doesn’t strike me as unusual. Of course, someone who has the “beatific vision” according to Catholicism is allegedly in Heaven and beholding God directly like the supposed “saints.” I see from a quick scan that Catholic theologians like Aquinas were indebted to the ancient Greek philosophers for the term. Catholic mystics such as Catherine of Siena also claimed to have beatific visions of Jesus while they were still alive. All of that was no doubt attributable to religious hysteria or demons. I see Protestant theologians have borrowed the phrase “beatific vision” to refer to the condition of being in the direct presence of the Lord in Heaven. Try googling “beatific vision Reformed” and you’ll see what I mean.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Maria, I don’t believe the concept behind the term is necessarily heretical. It depends on how it’s used. When we appear before the Lord in Heaven it will surely be a beatific/joyful/blissful experience. There are many solid evangelical theologians who use the term properly as shorthand for our coming meeting with the Lord. Catholics get into trouble when their mystics claim beatific visions before they die. The Bible states Stephen had a genuine beatific vision prior to his martyrdom. Other people in the Bible we’re given glimpses of Heavenly glory. Because it is generally understood to be a Catholic theological term, I would stay away from it myself. I see Puritan theologian, John Owen, wrote quite a bit on the topic.


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