Most Rev. Donald J. Sanborn
Damning Limbo to Hell
You probably saw articles on the upcoming suppression of Limbo by Ratzinger (Benedict XVI). There was a lengthy front-page article about it in the New York Times on December 28th, 2005, the feast of the Holy Innocents.
Ratzinger said back in the 1980's that he never believed in Limbo.
The defense that the Modernists make for their discarding Limbo is that it is not a dogma of the Church. This is true. One could deny Limbo without being a heretic.
If we deny Limbo, however, we are bound by Catholic dogma to put unbaptized babies in the fires of hell. For it is absolutely impossible for babies to have the beatific vision unless they receive the Sacrament of Baptism or are baptized in their blood. If they do not end up in Limbo, then they suffer the pains of the damned. Let me explain.
The Beatific Vision: Impossible without Justification
Because of original sin, it is physically impossible that man have the beatific vision — the direct vision of God's essence — after death unless he be first justified. Justification is the act by which man goes from the state of sin to the state of sanctifying grace. Sanctifying grace is the principle of the supernatural life of the soul, and is what gives us the ability to see God after death, when it is changed into what is known as the light of glory.
In order to be justified, we must either (a) receive the Sacrament of Baptism, (b) undergo martyrdom or (c) perform certain justifying acts under the influence of actual grace, namely an act of supernatural faith, perfect contrition for sin, and charity, i.e., love of God.
It is clear that infants and those who are permanently deprived of the use of reason cannot make justifying acts. So the only route to justification which is open to them, apart from martyrdom, is the waters of the Sacrament of Baptism.
Pope Pius XII clearly stated this in his address to the Congress of the Italian Catholic Association of Midwives (Oct. 29, 1951) : "If what We have said up to now deals with the protection and the care of natural life, it should hold all the more in regard to the supernatural life which the newly born infant receives with Baptism. In the present economy there is no other way of communicating this life to the child who has not yet the use of reason. But, nevertheless, the state of grace at the moment of death is absolutely necessary for salvation. Without it, it is not possible to attain supernatural happiness, the beatific vision of God. An act of love can suffice for an adult to obtain sanctifying grace and supply for the absence of Baptism; for the unborn child or for the newly born, this way is not open..."
Saint Augustine said: "If you wish to be a Catholic, do not believe, nor say, nor teach, that infants who die before baptism can obtain the remission of original sin." (III de Anima). He also said in a letter to St. Jerome (no. 27): "Whoever says that even infants are vivified in Christ when they depart this life without the participation of His Sacrament [Baptism], both opposes the Apostolic preaching and condemns the whole Church which hastens to baptize infants, because it unhesitatingly believes that otherwise they cannot possibly be vivified in Christ."
Heretics Denied the Necessity of Infant Baptism
The necessity of Baptism was denied by the fourteenth-century heretic Wycliff, as well as by the Protestant reformers Bucer and Zwingli. Calvin said that infants of believing parents are sanctified in the womb, and are therefore released from original sin without baptism.
Some Catholic theologians in the past, notably Cajetan, said something similar, namely that the unbaptized infant in the womb can be saved by an act of desire by the parents. This theory, however, was ordered to be expunged from Cajetan's commentary on St. Thomas by none other than Saint Pius V.
Those who Die in Original Sin Go to Hell
The Council of Florence said: "With regard to children, since the danger of death is often present and the only remedy available to them is the Sacrament of Baptism by which they are snatched away from the dominion of the devil and adopted as children of God, it admonishes that sacred baptism is not to be deferred for forty or eighty days or any other period of time in accordance with the usage of some people, but it should be conferred as soon as it conveniently can; and if there is imminent danger of death, the child should be baptized straightaway without any delay, even by a lay man or woman in the form of the Church, if there is no priest, as is contained more fully in the decree on the Armenians." (Decree for the Jacobites, Denz. 696)
The Council of Trent said: "And this translation [i.e. this going from the state of original sin to the state of grace], since the promulgation of the Gospel, cannot be effected without the laver of regeneration, or the desire thereof, as it is written: unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God." (Session VI, chapter 4) The Council also says: "If any one should say that baptism is free, that is, not necessary unto salvation, let him be anathema." (Session VII, can. 5)
It should be added here that babies are capable of the baptism of blood, if they should be martyred. This is the case of the Holy Innocents, whom the Church has always considered to be martyrs, and therefore saints in heaven. But this fact does not in any way distort the meaning of the councils and the Fathers concerning the necessity of baptism, since they are speaking about the normal remedy for sin established by God.
The Council of Florence also defined, in Session VI, the following: "But 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." This same doctrine is found in the Confession of Faith which was given to the Eastern Emperor Michael Paleologus in 1267 by Pope Clement IV, and which was accepted by this same emperor in the presence of Pope Gregory X at the Second Council of Lyons in 1274. The same doctrine is found as well in the Profession of Faith given to the Greeks by Pope Gregory XIII, and in that which was prescribed for the oriental schismatics by Popes Urban VIII and Benedict XIV.
The Two Punishments of Hell
Hell consists of two things: the deprivation of the beatific vision, which is the punishment for original sin, and the pain of sense, the fire, which is the punishment for actual sin. If after death, therefore, one is deprived of the beatific vision, then he is in hell — in the broad sense. I say "broad sense," since the common understanding of hell is the hell of the damned, the hell of hellfire and agony. This is hell in the strict sense of the term.
Since unbaptized babies have only original sin, theologians commonly concluded that there was a place in hell — in the broad sense — where they would be deprived of the vision of God, but would not be subjected to the pain of sense, since they committed no actual sin. This conclusion or theory, which is taught by nearly every theologian in the past eight hundred years, is in accordance with a pronouncement of Pope Innocent III (III Decr. 42:3): "The punishment of original sin is the deprivation of the vision of God; of actual sin, the eternal pains of hell."
"Limbo" is from a Latin word which means "edge," and so the theologians were calling the place of the unbaptized babies the edge or outer limits of hell. It is a very reasonable conclusion.
Ratzinger's Upcoming New Heresy
But Ratzinger knows better than St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Bonaventure, and practically every other theologian ever since. He is smarter than they. He says that Limbo is something which is incompatible with modern man.
So then we come to the fork in the road. According to Catholic doctrine, if one eliminates Limbo, the little babies are condemned to the hell of the damned, together with murderers, thieves, adulterers, perverts, heretics, and so forth. Will Ratzinger go that route?
No, he will no doubt take the other fork, which is to say that the little babies go to heaven. How happy this will make the mothers. But to follow this fork implicitly involves heresy, which is that babies dying without baptism can attain eternal salvation. We have already pointed out how this is contrary to Faith.
So one more heresy is being prepared by the arch-Modernist Ratzinger. But he will promulgate this one through the back door, as they usually do. He will appear to the world to be the nice old man — like an ecclesiastical Santa Claus — who gives away heaven to little babies. But underneath lies a pernicious heresy.
The Vatican II apologists, therefore, will have some more holes to plug in the dike. The pressure mounts on the conservative Novus Ordites to call Catholic what is plainly non-Catholic. They will have to stretch and bend like they have never done before to stave off the accusations of heresy. It is getting harder and harder for the defenders of the naked emperor to convince everyone that Ratzinger is wearing the clothing of orthodoxy.
[MHT Seminary Newsletter, January 2006]