Point-Counterpoint: The Doctrine of Limbo

In this month’s issue of the UK’s Catholic Herald, there’s a rather interesting point-counterpoint on a topic that is seldom discussed these days: limbo. In a pair of editorials, one author states that abandoning this longtime doctrine (as some theologians propose) would create a “serious gap in Church teaching”, while a second author responds reasoning why the current edition of the Catechism, by omitting reference to limbo, is accurate since we have no need for this doctrine.

Christ pulling Adam and Eve out of limbo on Holy Saturday – Chora Church, Istanbul

It could be an enriching read for anyone curious about this topic (which I am). After all, where do the souls of the unborn end up if they fall victim to the violence of abortion or agony of miscarriage? What about the children whose parents have just been lazy about getting them baptized? I’ve held that limbo makes sense (in my simple understanding of it). Furthermore, I don’t find the two views below to be at odds with one another (not that either author stated such). Cannot limbo exist while at the same time we pray in hope that those lost without being baptized (speaking of the “limbo of infants”) will find Heaven with the help of God’s mercy which is not bound by the gifts and limits He confers to us? Anyway, below are snippets of each:

POINT: Abandoning limbo would leave a serious gap in Church teaching

[N]ext month in Ramsgate, a theological colloquium, organised by the Dialogos Institute, will look again at the importance of limbo. A number of the distinguished speakers are likely to challenge the idea that limbo can be abandoned. Although the word “limbo” has only been used once in an authoritative document (in 1794), discarding it leaves a serious gap in Church teaching. Some would argue that limbo is, to all intents and purposes, a dogma.

The issue can be confused by differences of terminology. When we recite in the creed that Christ “descended into hell”, we are referring to what theologians have called “the limbo of the fathers”. In the Bible the place where the wicked are tormented after death is called Gehenna as distinct from Sheol or Hades a more general term for the place of the dead outside heaven. Confusingly, classic English translations of scripture translate both as “Hell”. […]

there is the limbo of the infants: the destination of babies who, though they cannot enter heaven because they have not been baptised, are guilty of no personal sin. As St Gregory Nazianzen put it, these infants “will neither be admitted by the just judge to the glory of Heaven nor condemned to suffer punishment.” That those who die in original sin only are confined to hell in this sense is not a theological opinion but a dogma of the Catholic Church solemnly defined by the seventeenth ecumenical council in 1438, which taught “the souls of those who depart this life in actual mortal sin, or in original sin alone, go down straightaway to hell to be punished, but with unequal pains.” […]

But although those who die in actual sin suffer in hell, neither the limbo of the infants nor the limbo of the fathers is a place distinguished by suffering (see Luke 16:19–31). Even if one takes the gloomy view of St Gregory the Great and St Augustine, who taught that infants undergo “the mildest condemnation of all”, one must bear in mind that this would be a quasi-paradisal condition unimaginably happier than the world in which we now live.

COUNTERPOINT: The Catechism is right, we do not need limbo

[…] Thus the Church proposes that our knowledge of God’s love, mercy, and salvific power gives us sufficient reason to believe that children who die without Baptism can be saved. If there is any gap, it is only a lack of description of the exact method or mechanism by which God would do this, but surely “through His merciful, salvific love” is adequate to make the idea intelligible. […]

[R]emember the axiom of Peter Lombard, who wrote that God is the author of the sacraments, but He Himself is not bound by them. God doesn’t tie His own hands by His gift of the sacraments to us. […]

To add one more opinion to the debate, it seems more fitting that the God who in the person of His Son bade the children to come to Him would provide the means to bring the countless of children who, through no fault of their own, did not reach the baptismal font to enter into their Father’s house.

As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus’ tenderness toward children which caused him to say: ‘Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,’ allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism.
CCC 1261

It seems like the past couple years have been so preoccupied with debates over already established dogmas and doctrines from dissenting Catholics that we forgot how to have mutually stimulating debates over doctrines where difference of opinion doesn’t mean dissent but, rather, [real] discussion. ☩

Clinton’s VP Pick: Another ‘Catholic’ who separates his faith from his politics

In the recent political era, we have seen the normalization of Catholic politicians (typically Democrat) embrace policies that violently crash against the stubborn, rocky shores of Natural Law as proclaimed by the Church they are part of. It seems especially common since the self-proclaimed Catholic John Kerry ran for president in 2004. This led to Cardinal Burke (then the archbishop of St. Louis) issuing a public statement forbidding the pro-abortion senator from receiving Communion while in the area. Quick examples of politicians who claim to be faithful Catholics while at the same time pushing for legislation contrary the faith they are quick to remind people about might be Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, Martin O’Malley…and Tim Kaine.

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Tim Kaine is the current senator and former governor of Virginia. He’s also Hillary Clinton’s newly minted running mate. As the Internet flooded with articles about Senator Kaine following the breaking news, one is worth commenting on here–not only because of the content but also the source. The National Schismatic Catholic Reporter rushed out an article about the junior senator called 5 faith facts about Dem. VP pick Tim Kaine, a Jesuit-educated CatholicIt’s fun to read how he reconciles his actions with his faith…equally funny is it that NCR seemingly gobbles it up and would even write a piece attempting to tout his “faith”. Here’s the TSP Cliffs Notes:

1. He was taught by Jesuits.

Kaine was raised Catholic in Missouri. His parents were so devout, Kaine told C-SPAN, that “if we got back from a vacation on a Sunday night at 7:30 p.m., they would know the one church in Kansas City that had an 8 p.m. Mass that we can make.”

So is the leadoff point supposed to prove he’s Catholic or is it attempting to foreshadow the incredibly twisted view of Catholicism the article soon reveals. I also love how a supposedly Catholic writer describes people who go to a Sunday obligation Mass at a slightly inconvenient time as being “so devout“. Shall we start his parents’ canonization process, or… (forgive the snark).

2. Kaine says he separates the personal from the political.

This has become a popular mantra among America’s liberal politicians as it’s becoming increasingly difficult to be elected as a democrat that actually lives and advocates policy that is in line with classic Christian philosophy.

Kaine is personally against abortion and the death penalty and has sometimes spoken against same-sex marriage and gay adoption, all of which aligns with Catholic teaching. But he has taken different stances in his political life. He has upheld Roe v. Wade and told Chuck Todd of “Meet the Press”: “I have taken the position, which is quite common among Catholics — I have got a personal feeling about abortion, but the right rule for government is to let women make their own decisions.”

This argument is so hilarious if properly understood–obviously he does not see the unborn baby as an innocent third party, otherwise it would be like saying “well, I’m personally against homicide, but I think the government should leave it to the person to decide. Or I’m personally against child trafficking, but the government should stay out of peoples’ lives.

As Virginia’s governor, he oversaw 11 state executions. “I have a moral position against the death penalty,” he said in 2012. “But I took an oath of office to uphold it. Following an oath of office is also a moral obligation.”

This is lame. A Catholic opposed to the death penalty in his position could have pushed to change the law or even pardon death row inmates as Gov. Ryan of Illinois did in 2003. He doesn’t care about this. If you care about something you do something.

3. He favors allowing women to become priests.

Well of course. Maybe he should just be a Methodist like Hillary.

4. Kaine is a fan of Pope Francis’ “Laudato Si’.”

Not all Catholics thought the pontiff should write an encyclical on a secular issue such as global warming, but Kaine agrees with Francis’ framing of the issue as one of faith. 

Too bad he keeps the personal separate from political though, right?

5. Kaine speaks openly about his faith.

In a recent C-SPAN interview he said: “I do what I do for spiritual reasons. I’m always thinking about the momentary reality but also how it connects with bigger matters of what’s important in life.”

Um, what exactly does he do for spiritual reasons?


Despite the cynicism and humor of this post, we must remember that the senator, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and our country still need our prayers flooding heaven.

Nobody Likes the “Throwaway Culture”

The current fad of penning digital ‘open letters’ about a situation an individual endured or an individual’s pet cause has become nauseating. Often a perfectly good message becomes obscured with the odor of attention-seeking motive. Today there’s another one of these “viral” letters that has social media and news websites abuzz: An open letter to the parent that thought it was OK to invite the entire class to their child’s birthday except for my sonThe stench aforementioned indeed lingers with this letter but it brings up an interesting, and larger, point.

The “letter” details a situation where a child with Down Syndrome was the only student in his class who wasn’t invited to a classmate’s birthday party. It goes on to explain how sad the boy was when he found out and how the mother is, understandably, upset about this.

I’m curious if many of the people sharing this story online, shocked this would happen, understand the ideology that has led to the brazen disregard for some vulnerable human beings. This situation is a clear symptom of the “Culture of Death” St. JPII regularly spoke about and, more recently, the “Throwaway Culture” that Pope Francis continually mentions. Should we expect any different behavior from a culture which makes it mainstream to encourage the abortion of babies that might require special needs from their parents? Should we be shocked at this display of disregard of human dignity when we have politicians and referendums calling for suicide assisted by a patient’s doctor when someone’s life becomes too burdensome to those around them?

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6/28/16 – Celebrity Doctor shares the heartwarming story of vulgar comedian who aborted two babies in one year and says she is “grateful” for her “thoughtful” choice.

I’d encourage the people who are touched by this woman’s unfortunate story to start questioning which culture they are celebrating with their words, enjoyment and money. Do they eat up the worldly, self-centered, and short-sighted Throwaway Culture that so easily disregards people deemed burdensome or contribute to the Culture of Life which strives to take into account the inherent dignity of every person it encounters, no matter their needs. Only one of these ideologies is compatible with the love everyone is so moved to talk about on social media. The longing for this tender love is engraved on the hearts of everyone–if only more people just reflected on this more maybe #lovewins could one day carry a whole different meaning.

 

A Victory for Life: Parenthood and Purpose

To the credit of ABC and Good Morning America, a story has hit the Internet about a mother who wrote a letter to a doctor–a prenatal specialist–who suggested she abort her child because they detected Down syndrome in the unborn baby (Emmy). The letter was written nearly a year after she turned down the advice of the doctor.

She’s given us a purpose and a joy that is impossible to express. She’s given us bigger smiles, more laughter and sweeter kisses than we’ve ever known. She’s opened our eyes to true beauty and pure love.

The fact that this story is going ‘viral’ online, along with it being reported via mainstream media outlets is a victory not only for Emmy, but for everyone who fights for The Culture of Life. The message from the mother also highlights the most healthy paradigm towards parenting one can have: that with parenthood comes a purpose (a sacred one) and once a parent recognizes this purpose and completely embraces it, love, joy, and graces overflow. May God bless this family.

The letter read:

A friend recently told me of when her prenatal specialist would see her child during her sonograms, he would comment, “He’s perfect.” Once her son was born with Down syndrome, she visited that same doctor. He looked at her little boy and said, “I told you. He’s perfect.”

Her story tore me apart. While I was so grateful for my friend’s experience, it filled me with such sorrow because of what I should have had. I wish you would have been that doctor.

I came to you during the most difficult time in my life. I was terrified, anxious and in complete despair. I didn’t know the truth yet about my baby, and that’s what I desperately needed from you. But instead of support and encouragement, you suggested we terminate our child. I told you her name, and you asked us again if we understood how low our quality of life would be with a child with Down syndrome. You suggested we reconsider our decision to continue the pregnancy.

From that first visit, we dreaded our appointments. The most difficult time in my life was made nearly unbearable because you never told me the truth. My child was perfect.

I’m not angry. I’m not bitter. I’m really just sad. I’m sad the tiny beating hearts you see every day don’t fill you with a perpetual awe. I’m sad the intricate details and the miracle of those sweet little fingers and toes, lungs and eyes and ears don’t always give you pause. I’m sad you were so very wrong to say a baby with Down syndrome would decrease our quality of life. And I’m heartbroken you might have said that to a mommy even today. But I’m mostly sad you’ll never have the privilege of knowing my daughter, Emersyn.

Because, you see, Emersyn has not only added to our quality of life, she’s touched the hearts of thousands. She’s given us a purpose and a joy that is impossible to express. She’s given us bigger smiles, more laughter and sweeter kisses than we’ve ever known. She’s opened our eyes to true beauty and pure love.

So my prayer is that no other mommy will have to go through what I did. My prayer is that you, too, will now see true beauty and pure love with every sonogram.

And my prayer is when you see that next baby with Down syndrome lovingly tucked in her mother’s womb, you will look at that mommy and see me then tell her the truth: “Your child is perfect.”

“I hope he sees Emmy. I hope he sees my words on paper,” Baker told ABC News. “Emmy is proof that children with special needs are worthy and can change the world. She’s doing it right now.”

Most Blessed Mother, Saint Gianna Molla, and Saint John Paul II, please intercede for the mother’s prayers!

Trump v. Chris Matthews: A Clueless Discussion on Abortion & The Church

If someone were to ask me who the two biggest buffoons on TV were, I’d likely answer Donald Trump and Chris Matthews. So it was really something special (Trump voice) to see the the two blowhards go back and forth at a town hall event in Green Bay. I have argued for months that Trump is completely unprincipled and will simply say or do anything to reach the White House (in a sense he’s more of a politician than any current politician). Sure, he might say some things that sound agreeable to political conservatives, but it’s obvious he has no clue why he actually has the position. Chris Matthews, while no doubt knowledgeable, has become a grouchy liberal blowhard, championing some of the most ridiculous left-wing sentiments on MSNBC.

There was one segment in particular that seemed to highlight the worst these two men have to offer though. Both men speak about something they have no clue on: Trump on being pro-life and Matthews on what it means to be a Catholic American. A young woman asks Donald, “I have a question on…what is your stance on woman rights, and their right to choose, and their own reproductive health”. I mean, I guess that’s a question.

Now Trump hates these questions for a number of reasons. First, he likely doesn’t believe what he’s saying. Second, he seemingly has no depth of any knowledge on the positions he touts. And third, his bread and butter is immigration and the economy, not pesky social issues. Matching the poorly thought-out question, he tries to get by with a brief clumsy answer, “I’m…as you know…I’m pro-life…uh…with exceptions…with the three exceptions. Pretty much that’s my stance. Is that okay, do you understand?” What an eloquent testament for life.

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Hey, I can’t see real good, is that Pope Frank over there?

Sensing blood in the water (the water here being a college campus, MSNBC audience), Matthews pushes him by asking what exactly the law should be. But of course the only detailed answers Mr. Trump ever seems to have are his daily poll numbers and who is saying what about him on Twitter. You can see the gears moving behind his orange face as he tries to buy time.

Trump Pisses Off Everyone

Trump fumbles more when Matthews presses further asking just what being pro-life means to Mr. Trump, asking if there should be a punishment to women who get an abortion. After trying his hardest to dodge the question, Trump eventually says that there should be some sort of punishment for women. This has created a firestorm from both sides of the abortion debate. This was the ultimate “gotchya” moment for the pro-abortion, political left: “See, the Republicans want uniquely punitive measures for women!” It’s safe to say that this line will be used in campaign ads.

The pro-life movement, which has gained a ton of traction in the past decade, is upset because they recognize they have just been set back by Trump’s thoughtless comments. Most pro-lifers will say that their goal is not to punish a woman who is obviously going through a very difficult time. If the operation were to be banned, their position typically is that “doctors” who preform abortions would be subject to punishment under the law. At the same time it would be society’s responsibility to offer the support a mother needs as she goes through this difficult time.

Matthews “Respects” The Moral Authority of The Catholic Church

But then The Donald attempted to turn the tables on Chris, asking what his stance is on the subject, wondering if he knows the stance his Church has on the subject.

From there we see two frauds talking about something they don’t really know anything about. Chris says that he accepts his Church’s “moral authority” but that, unlike Spain, the Church does not run the state, implying that his being “pro-choice” in a political sense can be easily reconciled with him thinking the Church is right on abortion being morally wrong. Just like I personally am for stealing from people, but I recognize the Church’s authority to tell me it’s wrong (eye roll). Matthews further adds a memorized bit of scripture, Mark 12:17, as if it somehow backs his position up: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Be warned: hearing the two go back and forth on topics clearly neither of them understand will induce laughter, and possibly weeping.

Fearing that this video might display true microcosms of the current voter bases in this country, please excuse me as I bury my face back in my palms over what a complete disaster this presidential race has become.