Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Doctrine of Limbo... Now in Limbo

Reason number 1,273 why I am an Orthodox Christian...

Pope set to abolish limbo
By Jill Rowbotham
LIMBO, the resting place for the souls of unbaptised children, is being written out of Catholic teaching.

The concept, which developed during the Middle Ages, was never official doctrine and now Pope Benedict XVI will abolish it.

According to sources reported in London's The Times, the Vatican's International Theological Commission will recommend tomorrow that it be replaced by a more compassionate doctrine that children who die do so "in the hope of eternal salvation".

The Pope is expected to agree because, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he presided over the first sessions of the commission, which had been asked to examine the matter by the late pope John Paul II.

And as long ago as 1984 the then cardinal told Catholic author Vittorio Messori that limbo had "never been a definitive truth of the faith".

"Personally I would let it drop, since it has always been only a theological hypothesis," he said.

Australian Catholic University professor Neil Ormerod called the move a piece of "theological housekeeping".

"A lot of Catholics, especially those of an older generation, would have grown up with the notion of limbo in their catechism teaching but it was never an official teaching of the church," Professor Ormerod said. "It was a theological position."

The old catechism, adopted under the papacy of Pius V from 1903 to 1914, defined limbo as a place where the dead "do not have the joy of God but neither do they suffer ... they do not deserve Paradise, but neither do they deserve Hell or Purgatory".

It takes its name from the latin word limbus, meaning hem, edge or boundary.