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The Catholic Encyclopedia ^ | 1910

Posted on 06/21/2005 4:13:19 PM PDT by annalex


(Late Lat. limbus) a word of Teutonic derivation, meaning literally "hem" or "border," as of a garment, or anything joined on (cf. Italian lembo or English limb).

In theological usage the name is applied to (a) the temporary place or state of the souls of the just who, although purified from sin, were excluded from the beatific vision until Christ's triumphant ascension into Heaven (the "limbus patrum"); or (b) to the permanent place or state of those unbaptized children and others who, dying without grievous personal sin, are excluded from the beatific vision on account of original sin alone (the "limbus infantium" or "puerorum").

In literary usage the name is sometimes applied in a wider and more general sense to any place or state of restraint, confinement, or exclusion, and is practically equivalent to "prison" (see, e.g., Milton, "Paradise Lost," III, 495; Butler, "Hudibras," part II, canto i, and other English classics). The not unnatural transition from the theological to the literary usage is exemplified in Shakespeare, "Henry VIII," act v, sc. 3. In this article we shall deal only with the theological meaning and connotation of the word.


Though it can hardly be claimed, on the evidence of extant literature, that a definite and consistent belief in the limbus patrum of Christian tradition was universal among the Jews, it cannot on the other hand be denied that, more especially in the extra-canonical writings of the second or first centuries B.C., some such belief finds repeated expression; and New Testament references to the subject remove all doubt as to the current Jewish belief in the time of Christ. Whatever name may be used in apocryphal Jewish literature to designate the abode of the departed just, the implication generally is

In the New Testament, Christ refers by various names and figures to the place or state which Catholic tradition has agreed to call the limbus patrum. In Matt. 8:11, it is spoken of under the figure of a banquet "with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of Heaven" (cf. Luke 8:29; 14:15), and in Matt. 25:10 under the figure of a marriage feast to which the prudent virgins are admitted, while in the parable of Lazarus and Dives it is called "Abraham's bosom" (Luke 16:22) and in Christ's words to the penitent thief on Calvary the name paradise is used (Luke 23:43). St. Paul teaches (Eph. 4:9) that before ascending into Heaven Christ "also descended first into the lower parts of the earth," and St. Peter still more explicitly teaches that "being put to death indeed, in the flesh, but enlivened in the spirit," Christ went and "preached to those souls that were in prison, which had been some time incredulous, when they waited for the patience of God in the days of Noah" (I Pet 3:18-20).

It is principally on the strength of these Scriptural texts, harmonized with the general doctrine of the Fall and Redemption of mankind, that Catholic tradition has defended the existence of the limbus patrum as a temporary state or place of happiness distinct from Purgatory. As a result of the Fall, Heaven was closed against men. Actual possession of the beatific vision was postponed, even for those already purified from sin, until the Redemption should have been historically completed by Christ's visible ascendancy into Heaven. Consequently, the just who had lived under the Old Dispensation, and who, either at death or after a course of purgatorial discipline, had attained the perfect holiness required for entrance into glory, were obliged to await the coming of the Incarnate Son of God and the full accomplishment of His visible earthly mission. Meanwhile they were "in prison," as St. Peter says; but, as Christ's own words to the penitent thief and in the parable of Lazarus clearly imply, their condition was one of happiness, notwithstanding the postponement of the higher bliss to which they looked forward. And this, substantially, is all that Catholic tradition teaches regarding the limbus patrum.


The New Testament contains no definite statement of a positive kind regarding the lot of those who die in original sin without being burdened with grievous personal guilt. But, by insisting on the absolute necessity of being "born again of water and the Holy Ghost" (John 3:5) for entry into the kingdom of Heaven (see "Baptism," subtitle Necessity of Baptism), Christ clearly enough implies that men are born into this world in a state of sin, and St. Paul's teaching to the same effect is quite explicit (Rom. 5:12 sqq). On the other hand, it is clear form Scripture and Catholic tradition that the means of regeneration provided for this life do not remain available after death, so that those dying unregenerate are eternally excluded from the supernatural happiness of the beatific vision (John 9:4, Luke 12:40, 16:19 sqq, II Cor. 5:10; see also "Apocatastasis"). The question therefore arises as to what, in the absence of a clear positive revelation on the subject, we ought in conformity with Catholic principles to believe regarding the eternal lot of such persons. Now it may confidently be said that, as the result of centuries of speculation on the subject, we ought to believe that these souls enjoy and will eternally enjoy a state of perfect natural happiness; and this is what Catholics usually mean when they speak of the limbus infantium, the "children's limbo."

The best way of justifying the above statement is to give a brief sketch of the history of Catholic opinion on the subject. We shall try to do so by selecting the particular and pertinent facts from the general history of Catholic speculation regarding the Fall and original sin, but it is only right to observe that a fairly full knowledge of this general history is required for a proper appreciation of these facts.

1. Pre-Augustinian Tradition

There is no evidence to prove that any Greek or Latin Father before St. Augustine ever taught that original sin of itself involved any severer penalty after death than exclusion from the beatific vision, and this, by the Greek Fathers at least, was always regarded as being strictly supernatural. Explicit references to the subject are rare, but for the Greek Fathers generally the statement of St. Gregory of Nazianzus may be taken as representative:

It will happen, I believe . . . that those last mentioned [infants dying without baptism] will neither be admitted by the just judge to the glory of Heaven nor condemned to suffer punishment, since, though unsealed [by baptism], they are not wicked. . . . For from the fact that one does not merit punishment it does not follow that one is worthy of being honored, any more than it follows that one who is not worthy of a certain honor deserves on that account to be punished. [Orat., xl, 23]
Thus, according to Gregory, for children dying without baptism, and excluded for want of the "seal" from the "honor" or gratuitous favor of seeing God face to face, an intermediate or neutral state is admissible, which, unlike that of the personally wicked, is free from positive punishment. And, for the West, Tertullian opposes infant baptism on the ground that infants are innocent, while St. Ambrose explains that original sin is rather an inclination to evil than guilt in the strict sense, and that it need occasion no fear at the day of judgement; and the Ambrosiater teaches that the "second death," which means condemnation to the hell of torment of the damned, is not incurred by Adam's sin, but by our own. This was undoubtedly the general tradition before St. Augustine's time.

2. Teaching of St. Augustine

In his earlier writings St. Augustine himself agrees with the common tradition. Thus in De libero arbitrio III, written several years before the Pelagian controversy, discussing the fate of unbaptized infants after death, he writes: "It is superfluous to inquire about the merits of one who has not any merits. For one need not hesitate to hold that life may be neutral as between good conduct and sin, and that as between reward and punishment there may be a neutral sentence of the judge." But even before the outbreak of the Pelagian controversy St. Augustine had already abandoned the lenient traditional view, and in the course of the controversy he himself condemned, and persuaded the Council of Carthage (418) to condemn, the substantially identical Pelagian teaching affirming the existence of "an intermediate place, or of any place anywhere at all (ullus alicubi locus), in which children who pass out of this life unbaptized live in happiness" (Denzinger 102). This means that St. Augustine and the African Fathers believed that unbaptized infants share in the common positive misery of the damned, and the very most that St. Augustine concedes is that their punishment is the mildest of all, so mild indeed that one may not say that for them non-existence would be preferable to existence in such a state (De peccat. meritis I, xxi; Contra Jul. V, 44; etc.). But this Augustinian teaching was an innovation in its day, and the history of subsequent Catholic speculation on this subject is taken up chiefly with the reaction which has ended in a return to the pre-Augustinian tradition.

3. Post-Augustinian Teaching

After enjoying several centuries of undisputed supremacy, St. Augustine's teaching on original sin was first successfully challenged by St. Anselm (d. 1109), who maintained that it was not concupiscence, but the privation of original justice, that constituted the essence of the inherited sin (De conceptu virginali). On the special question, however, of the punishment of original sin after death, St. Anselm was at one with St. Augustine in holding that unbaptized children share in the positive sufferings of the damned; and Abelard was the first to rebel against the severity of the Augustinian tradition on this point. According to him there was no guilt (culpa), but only punishment (poena), in the proper notion of original sin; and although this doctrine was rightly condemned by the Council of Soissons in 1140, his teaching, which rejected material torment (poena sensus) and retained only the pain of loss (poena damni) as the eternal punishment of original sin (Comm. in Rom.), was not only not condemned but was generally accepted and improved upon by the Scholastics. Peter Lombard, the Master of the Sentences, popularized it (Sent. II, xxxiii, 5), and it acquired a certain degree of official authority from the letter of Innocent III to the Archbishop of Arles, which soon found its way into the "Corpus Juris." Pope Innocent's teaching is to the effect that those dying with only original sin on their souls will suffer "no other pain, whether from material fire or from the worm of conscience, except the pain of being deprived forever of the vision of God" (Corp. Juris, Decret. l. III, tit. xlii, c. iii -- Majores). It should be noted, however, that this poena damni incurred for original sin implied, with Abelard and most of the early Scholastics, a certain degree of spiritual torment, and that St. Thomas was the first great teacher who broke away completely from the Augustinian tradition on this subject, and relying on the principle, derived through the Pseudo-Dionysius from the Greek Fathers, that human nature as such with all its powers and rights was unaffected by the Fall (quod naturalia manent integra), maintained, at least virtually, what the great majority of later Catholic theologians have expressly taught, that the limbus infantium is a place or state of perfect natural happiness.

No reason can be given -- so argued the Angelic Doctor -- for exempting unbaptized children from the material torments of Hell (poena sensus) that does not hold good, even a fortiori, for exempting them also from internal spiritual suffering (poena damni in the subjective sense), since the latter in reality is the more grievous penalty, and is more opposed to the mitissima poena which St. Augustine was willing to admit (De Malo, V, art. iii). Hence he expressly denies that they suffer from any "interior affliction", in other words that they experience any pain of loss (nihil omnino dolebunt de carentia visionis divinae -- "In Sent.", II, 33, q. ii, a.2). At first ("In Sent.", loc. cit.), St. Thomas held this absence of subjective suffering to be compatible with a consciousness of objective loss or privation, the resignation of such souls to the ways of God's providence being so perfect that a knowledge of what they had lost through no fault of their own does not interfere with the full enjoyment of the natural goods they possess. Afterwards, however, he adopted the much simpler psychological explanation which denies that these souls have any knowledge of the supernatural destiny they have missed, this knowledge being itself supernatural, and as such not included in what is naturally due to the separated soul (De Malo loc. cit.). It should be added that in St. Thomas' view the limbus infantium is not a mere negative state of immunity from suffering and sorrow, but a state of positive happiness in which the soul is united to God by a knowledge and love of him proportionate to nature's capacity.

The teaching of St. Thomas was received in the schools, almost without opposition, down to the Reformation period. The very few theologians who, with Gregory of Rimini, stood out for the severe Augustinian view, were commonly designated by the opprobrious name of tortores infantium. Some writers, like Savonarola (De triumbpho crucis, III, 9) and Catharinus (De statu parvulorum sine bapt. decedentium), added certain details to the current teaching -- for example that the souls of unbaptized children will be united to glorious bodies at the Resurrection, and that the renovated earth of which St. Peter speaks (II Peter 3:13) will be their happy dwelling place for eternity. At the Reformation, Protestants generally, but more especially the Calvinists, in reviving Augustinian teaching, added to its original harshness, and the Jansenists followed on the same lines. This reacted in two ways on Catholic opinion, first by compelling attention to the true historical situation, which the Scholastics had understood very imperfectly, and second by stimulating an all-round opposition to Augustinian severity regarding the effects of original sin; and the immediate result was to set up two Catholic parties, one of whom either rejected St. Thomas to follow the authority of St. Augustine or vainly try to reconcile the two, while the other remained faithful to the Greek Fathers and St. Thomas. The latter party, after a fairly prolonged struggle, has certainly the balance of success on its side.

Besides the professed advocates of Augustinianism, the principal theologians who belonged to the first party were Bellarmine, Petavius, and Bossuet, and the chief ground of their opposition to the previously prevalent Scholastic view was that its acceptance seemed to compromise the very principle of the authority of tradition. As students of history, they felt bound to admit that, in excluding unbaptized children from any place or state even of natural happiness and condemning them to the fire of Hell, St. Augustine, the Council of Carthage, and later African Fathers, like Fulgentius (De fide ad Petrum, 27), intended to teach no mere private opinion, but a doctrine of Catholic Faith; nor could they be satisfied with what Scholastics, like St. Bonaventure and Duns Scotus, said in reply to this difficulty, namely that St. Augustine had simply been guilty of exaggeration ("respondit Bonaventura dicens quod Augustinus excessive loquitur de illis poenis, sicut frequenter faciunt sancti" -- Scots, In Sent., II, xxxiii, 2). Neither could they accept the explanation which even some modern theologians continue to repeat: that the Pelagian doctrine condemned by St. Augustine as a heresy (see e.g., De anima et ejus orig., II, 17) consisted in claiming supernatural, as opposed to natural, happiness for those dying in original sin (see Bellarmine, De amiss. gratiae, vi, 1; Petavius, De Deo, IX, xi; De Rubeis, De Peccat. Orig., xxx, lxxii). Moreover, there was the teaching of the Council of Florence, that "the souls of those dying in actual mortal sin or in original sin alone go down at once (mox) into Hell, to be punished, however, with widely different penalties."

It is clear that Bellarmine found the situation embarrassing, being unwilling, as he was, to admit that St. Thomas and the Schoolmen generally were in conflict with what St. Augustine and other Fathers considered to be de fide, and what the Council of Florence seemed to have taught definitively. Hence he names Catharinus and some others as revivers of the Pelagian error, as though their teaching differed in substance from the general teaching of the School, and tries in a milder way to refute what he concedes to be the view of St. Thomas (op. cit., vi-vii). He himself adopts a view which is substantially that of Abelard mentioned above; but he is obliged to do violence to the text of St. Augustine and other Fathers in his attempt to explain them in conformity with this view, and to contradict the principle he elsewhere insists upon that "original sin does not destroy the natural but only the supernatural order." (op. cit., iv). Petavius, on the other hand, did not try to explain away the obvious meaning of St. Augustine and his followers, but, in conformity with that teaching, condemned unbaptized children to the sensible pains of Hell, maintaining also that this was a doctrine of the Council of Florence. Neither of these theologians, however, succeeded in winning a large following or in turning the current of Catholic opinion from the channel into which St. Thomas had directed it. Besides Natalis Alexander (De peccat. et virtut, I, i, 12), and Estius (In Sent., II, xxxv, 7), Bellarmine's chief supporter was Bossuet, who vainly tried to induce Innocent XII to condemn certain propositions which he extracted from a posthumous work of Cardinal Sfrondati and in which the lenient scholastic view is affirmed. Only professed Augustinians like Noris and Berti, or out-and-out Jansenists like the Bishop of Pistoia, whose famous diocesan synod furnished eighty-five propositions for condemnation by Pius VI (1794), supported the harsh teaching of Petavius. The twenty-sixth of these propositions repudiated "as a Pelagian fable the existence of the place (usually called the children's limbo) in which the souls of those dying in original sin are punished by the pain of loss without any pain of fire"; and this, taken to mean that by denying the pain of fire one thereby necessarily postulates a middle place or state, involving neither guilt nor penalty, between the Kingdom of God and eternal damnation, is condemned by the pope as being "false and rash and as slander of the Catholic schools" (Denz. 526). This condemnation was practically the death-knell of extreme Augustinianism, while the mitigate Augustinianism of Bellarmine and Bossuet had already been rejected by the bulk of Catholic theologians. Suarez, for example, ignoring Bellarmine's protest, continued to teach what Catharinus had taught -- that unbaptized children will not only enjoy perfect natural happiness, but that they will rise with immortal bodies at the last day and have the renovated earth for their happy abode (De vit. et penat., ix, sect. vi, n. 4); and, without insisting on such details, the great majority of Catholic theologians have continued to maintain the general doctrine that the children's limbo is a state of perfect natural happiness, just the same as it would have been if God had not established the present supernatural order. It is true, on the other hand, that some Catholic theologians have stood out for some kind of compromise with Augustinianism, on the ground that nature itself was wounded and weakened, or, at least that certain natural rights (including the right to perfect felicity) were lost in consequence of the Fall. But these have granted for the most part that the children's limbo implies exemption, not only from the pain of sense, but from any positive spiritual anguish for the loss of the beatific vision; and not a few have been willing to admit a certain degree of natural happiness in limbo. What has been chiefly in dispute is whether this happiness is as perfect and complete as it would have been in the hypothetical state of pure nature, and this is what the majority of Catholic theologians have affirmed.

As to the difficulties against this view which possessed such weight in the eyes of the eminent theologians we have mentioned, it is to be observed:

The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IX
Copyright © 1910 by Robert Appleton Company
Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight
Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, Censor
Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York

TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; General Discusssion; Orthodox Christian; Theology
KEYWORDS: augustinianism; baptism; bostonpilot; ignorance; invincible; limbo; orestesbrownson
Are unbaptized children condemned to hell? Are the Old Dispensation just condemned to hell? Is Calvinist view on Original Sin the only answer to Pelagianism? The short answer is No. This is the full answer.
1 posted on 06/21/2005 4:13:19 PM PDT by annalex
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To: Dionysiusdecordealcis; Pyro7480; Tantumergo; Hermann the Cherusker; gbcdoj; Agrarian; ...

This post is a continuation of this thread:

Why not Eastern Orthodoxy?

My apologies to all who participated there on the discussion of St. Augustine's teaching on Original Sin, and who I failed to bump.

2 posted on 06/21/2005 4:29:48 PM PDT by annalex
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To: annalex
One relevant Catechism:


1257 The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation.59 He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them.60 Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament.61 The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are "reborn of water and the Spirit." God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.

1258 The Church has always held the firm conviction that those who suffer death for the sake of the faith without having received Baptism are baptized by their death for and with Christ. This Baptism of blood, like the desire for Baptism, brings about the fruits of Baptism without being a sacrament.

1259 For catechumens who die before their Baptism, their explicit desire to receive it, together with repentance for their sins, and charity, assures them the salvation that they were not able to receive through the sacrament.

1260 "Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery."62 Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.

1261 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,"63 allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church's call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.


3 posted on 06/21/2005 4:44:16 PM PDT by annalex
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To: annalex
Mortal sin requires deliberate consent, therefore one cannot be in the state of mortal sin other than by a deliberate act of sinning:
1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: "Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent."131


4 posted on 06/21/2005 4:47:55 PM PDT by annalex
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To: annalex
A rather interesting exchange on this subject was begun by Orestes Brownson in this article on the doctrine "Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus":
Without being united to regenerated humanity, men remain forever in the initial order, below their destiny, inchoate existences, with their nature unfilled, devoured alike by an everlasting want which cannot be supplied, and an everlasting self-reproach for having by their own fault neglected the means of salvation once within their reach. Hence the never-ending sufferings of those who die unregenerate. Even infants dying unbaptized, that is, in the initial order, unregenerate, the holy Council of Florence defines, go to hell - in infernos; though they will not suffer for any actual sins of commission or omission, of which they were incapable. Some tender-hearted theologians think they will not suffer at all, but no rational creature can remain forever below his destiny, with the purpose of his being unfilled, without experiencing a want, and therefore not without a greater or less degree of suffering.

And a rejoinder:

In this some number Dr. Brownson ironically terms tender-hearted theologians those who think that the loss of the intuitive or beatific vision does not cause children who have died without sin to suffer.

Dr. Brownson proves to his own satisfaction that it is absurd to suppose that these children are exempted from suffering; but he has forgotten, if he ever knew, who the tender-hearted theologians are that believe in this absurdity. The reader will be astonished to learn that they are St. Thomas, who says, cancerning these children: Nihil omnino dolebunt de carentia visionis divinae.(supplem qu. 71, art 2); St. Bonaventure(2 a p distinct. Qu 2); Suarez( de peccatis, disp 2, sect 6); and others of at least as much authority in such matters as the editor of Brownson’s Quarterly Review.

If he will take the trouble to study the reasons they give in favor of their opinion which they regard as at least the more probable, he will no doubt follow them, and abandon the doctrine of Gregory of Rhimini, to whom Catholic instict has applied the energetic epithet of tortor puerorum,: ‘the children’s torturer.’

With a reply annexed:

But it seems in the estimation of the Pilot’s theologian we erred in representing unbaptized infants dying in infancy, and of course in invincible ignorance, as suffering from the loss of heaven, and he quotes St. Thomas, St. Bonaventura, Suarez, and others, to prove the contrary. Does he suppose the possession of heaven is a small affair? That they suffer the pain of sense we have never pretended; but it is certain that they do suffer the pain, that is, the penalty of loss. That they do not suffer the pain of sense in consequence of being deprived of the beatific vision, is the common opinion of theologians, and we have not the temerity to contradict them; but, deprived of that vision, they remain and must forever remain infinitely below their destiny, with the end for which they were created unattained and unattainable: and every natural creature necessarily suffers, morally and spiritually, if not sensibly, so long as it remains below its destiny, with the end for which it exists unrealized. Hence Pope St. Gregory the Great recognizes but two states after death; the one, happiness in heaven, and the other, suffering in hell. The holy council of Florence defines that unbaptized infants dying in infancy go to hell, "in infernum." That God may hide from them all sense of their loss, and provide for them a flowery sort of delight in which they will be conscious of no suffering, of no loss even, is a theological opinion; but we understand not how it can be without a miracle of divine mercy. And if we suppose a miracle for so much, we can see no reason why we may not just as well suppose a miracle big enough to admit them to the vision of God in glory. The loss of heaven is the greatest of all possible evils.

5 posted on 06/21/2005 6:12:08 PM PDT by gbcdoj (For if thou wilt now hold thy peace, the Jews shall be delivered by some other occasion)
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To: gbcdoj
Dr. Brownson's hesitation is adressed in the head article:
Those dying in original sin are said to descend into Hell, but this does not necessarily mean anything more than that they are excluded eternally from the vision of God. In this sense they are damned; they have failed to reach their supernatural destiny, and this viewed objectively is a true penalty. Thus the Council of Florence, however literally interpreted, does not deny the possibility of perfect subjective happiness for those dying in original sin, and this is all that is needed from the dogmatic viewpoint to justify the prevailing Catholic notion of the children's limbo, while form the standpoint of reason, as St. Gregory of Nazianzus pointed out long ago, no harsher view can be reconciled with a worthy concept of God's justice and other attributes.
Theirs is the state of perfect and natural happiness, although perhaps not of supernatural happiness of the beatific vision, -- which, however, the good Lord is sovereign enough and merciful enough to grant.
6 posted on 06/22/2005 9:03:36 AM PDT by annalex
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To: annalex; Tantumergo
Another useful quote from the Catholic Encyclopedia:

Ignorance is said to be invincible when a person is unable to rid himself of it notwithstanding the employment of moral diligence, that is, such as under the circumstances is, morally speaking, possible and obligatory. This manifestly includes the states of inadvertence, forgetfulness, etc. Such ignorance is obviously involuntary and therefore not imputable. On the other hand, ignorance is termed vincible if it can be dispelled by the use of "moral diligence".


Invincible ignorance, whether of the law or of the fact, is always a valid excuse and excludes sin. The evident reason is that neither this state nor the act resulting therefrom is voluntary. It is undeniable that a man cannot be invincibly ignorant of the natural law



7 posted on 06/22/2005 10:04:05 AM PDT by annalex
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To: annalex
Limbo and the Hope of Salvation
8 posted on 06/22/2005 10:30:56 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation; Hermann the Cherusker
Thank you, very good read and a very thoughful comment by Hermann the Cherusker in #22

I think, as appearance of a renowned Universalist deacon there shows, that there is a danger of extending the teaching on Limbo, and in particular the hope of supernatural beatific vision (as opposed to the certainty of perfect natural happiness) into some universalist, or pelagianist, waters.

But at the same time, one should not take the promise of Christ given to His disciples, -- "unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you shall not have life everlasting" into some sort of Calvinist restriction on Christ Himself. As the case of the Holy Innocents shows, at least in their case we have a certainty of beatific vision available to them, albeit on an exceptional basis.

9 posted on 06/22/2005 11:42:17 AM PDT by annalex
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To: annalex; Hermann the Cherusker
The truth is that they go to Limbus Infantium, which is the state of perfect natural happiness. They are not in a state of mortal sin, as was alleged here and are not condemned to suffering.

Okay, but the limbus parvulorum is not part of the kingdom of heaven, but belongs properly to Hell. Anyone who goes there is damned as a penalty for the guilt of original sin, and lacks supernatural happiness, according to John XXII, the second Council of Lyons, and the Council of Florence, which teach that original sin is punished with the penalty of loss. As Hermann has so helpfully pointed out, it is also correct to say that they are in a state of mortal sin (as the Baltimore Catechism and also St. Peter Mohila's Confession of Faith do), since they inherited sin, the death of the soul, 'mors animae', from Adam himself, according to the definition of the Council of Trent. It would not, however, be correct to say that they have committed a mortal sin.

If any one asserts, that the prevarication of Adam injured himself alone, and not his posterity; and that the holiness and justice, received of God, which he lost, he lost for himself alone, and not for us also; or that he, being defiled by the sin of disobedience, has only transfused death, and pains of the body, into the whole human race, but not sin also, which is the death of the soul (non autem et peccatum, quod mors est animæ); let him be anathema:--whereas he contradicts the apostle who says; By one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death, and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned. ... For that which the apostle has said, By one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death, and so death passed upon all men in whom all have sinned, is not to be understood otherwise than as the Catholic Church spread everywhere hath always understood it. For, by reason of this rule of faith, from a tradition of the apostles, even infants, who could not as yet commit any sin of themselves, are for this cause truly baptized for the remission of sins, that in them that may be cleansed away by regeneration, which they have contracted by generation. For, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (Trent, Sessio V, Decretum de peccato originali)

10 posted on 06/22/2005 3:59:57 PM PDT by gbcdoj (For if thou wilt now hold thy peace, the Jews shall be delivered by some other occasion)
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To: gbcdoj; Hermann the Cherusker
The distinction between Hell and Heaven, aside from the eternal suffering on the former, and the Beatific Vision in the latter, is rather speculative, as Hermann pointed out. Since the souls in Limbo do not suffer, and have exceptional ways granted by Christ to reach the supernatural happiness of the Beatific Vision, the designation of Limbo as a province of Hell seems arbitrary.

Regaring the distinction between the state of mortal sin, and commision of mortal sin, please see #4 here. If Baltimore Catechism defines mortal sin broader so that it does not require deliberation, I'd like to see Baltimore's definition; otherwise, we have to conclude that the reference to the state of mortal sin in the context of the Limbo is in contradiction to what mortal sin is, which probably explains why it is not in the current catechism.

11 posted on 06/22/2005 4:45:13 PM PDT by annalex
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To: annalex
and have exceptional ways granted by Christ to reach the supernatural happiness of the Beatific Vision

The particular judgment and the final judgment of the soul are identical.

the designation of Limbo as a province of Hell seems arbitrary.

On the contrary, it is the teaching of the Church. To designate it as part of heaven is a condemned error:

Can. 3. It has been decided likewise that if anyone says ... that it might be understood that in the kingdom of heaven there will be some middle place or some place anywhere where the blessed infants live who departed from this life without baptism ... let him be anathema. (Council of Carthage 418/Mileum 416)

Thus the Church teaches:

The souls of those who die in mortal sin or with original sin only, however, immediately descend into hell, yet to be punished with different punishments. (Council of Lyons II, Variant Readings, Profession of Faith of Michael Palaeologus)
It teaches ... that the souls ... of those who die in mortal sin, or with only original sin descend immediately into hell; however, to be punished with different penalties and in different places. (John XXII, Letter to the Armenians)
Moreover, the souls of those who depart in actual mortal sin or in original sin only, descend immediately into hell but to undergo punishments of different kinds. (Council of Florence, Decree on Reunion with the Greeks)

As for the difference over the state of mortal sin, suffice it to say that it is a difference over terminology, nothing more. All men inherit sin, which is the death of the soul, from Adam. To call it mortal, in the sense of 'deadly', is quite correct, so long as 'mortal sin' is not defined as 'actual mortal sin'. See Q. 18-20 of St. Peter Mohila's Confession here.

12 posted on 06/22/2005 5:30:32 PM PDT by gbcdoj (For if thou wilt now hold thy peace, the Jews shall be delivered by some other occasion)
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To: annalex; gbcdoj
The distinction between Hell and Heaven, aside from the eternal suffering on the former, and the Beatific Vision in the latter, is rather speculative, as Hermann pointed out.

There is nothing speculative about it at all. The saved are in Heaven, the damned are in Hell. Heaven is glorification and communion with God. Hell is seperation from God and punishment. Those guilty of actual sin are tormented with the punishment of eternal death, the worm of conscience, and eternal fire.

If you are taking as speculative what I said about these not being seperate places, again, there is nothing speculative about it. Scripture is perfectly clear that the saved and the damned see each other (i.e. Lazarus and the Rich Man) and are both before God. Their experience of this is all that seperates them, the saved rejoice in love, the damned are turned inwards into their own magnified perversions and hatred.

Since the souls in Limbo do not suffer, and have exceptional ways granted by Christ to reach the supernatural happiness of the Beatific Vision, the designation of Limbo as a province of Hell seems arbitrary.

Where do you find a teaching about "exceptional ways" to "supernatural happiness"?

If Limbo is not part of hell, then it is part of heaven, and those with original sin are already saved, or rather, original sin never was a problem for us requring a Redeemer. This brings us squarely back to Pelagianism. The whole concept is nothing but a trap.

13 posted on 06/22/2005 7:02:47 PM PDT by Hermann the Cherusker
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To: Hermann the Cherusker; gbcdoj

"Speculative" only in the sense that the scripture does not define the Limbo as being either in Heaven, or in Hell, or even in existence.I understand that the Church teaches that the Limbo exists and it exists in Hell, and do not dispute that.

The point is that, as the article explains, Limbo is a distinct part of Hell, where the souls are in the state of perfect natural happiness. They are not in the state of perfect supernatural happiness, which is Heaven, but neither are they in torment. I would like to know if you dispute this central point in the article.

Both the Catechism and the article also indicate that Christ cannot be bound by His own sacraments and in His mercy He can lead the unbaptized to Heaven, exceptionally. One likely, albeit speculative example, are the Holy Innocents mentioned in the article linked by Salvation in 8. Again, I would like to know if you dispute this aspect of the Catholic Encyclopedia article.

Finally, the article explains what Pelagianism is and why post Augistinian theology of Limbo is not Pelagianism. Please tell me if you dispute that part.

14 posted on 06/23/2005 2:04:11 PM PDT by annalex
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To: annalex

The Holy Innocents are not speculative. They are commemorated by the Church as martyrs, since they were baptized in their own blood.

15 posted on 06/23/2005 5:14:13 PM PDT by gbcdoj (For if thou wilt now hold thy peace, the Jews shall be delivered by some other occasion)
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To: annalex; gbcdoj
The point is that, as the article explains, Limbo is a distinct part of Hell, where the souls are in the state of perfect natural happiness. They are not in the state of perfect supernatural happiness, which is Heaven, but neither are they in torment. I would like to know if you dispute this central point in the article.

That is what I stated originally. You used the term supernatural happiness to describe their lot, which is the term the Pelagians used.

The only reason they are not in torment is because they have nothing to grieve over or be punished for. Since they did nothing wrong, they are not in actual enmity with God. And since they were never entitled to heaven, they hardly grieve over their inability to experience it, as St. Thomas puts it just as a wise man does not grieve that he cannot fly like a bird.

Finally, the article explains what Pelagianism is and why post Augistinian theology of Limbo is not Pelagianism. Please tell me if you dispute that part.

The Pelagian theory of Limbo is either that the blessed infants gain supernatural happiness naturally, or that they live out their eternity in a third place between heaven and hell. Many supposedly Catholic theories of limbo veered off into this heresy. Thus the insane theory of some that the "New Earth" after the Resurrection is to be the abode of the blessed infants, as if it was not intended as the abode of the Just. Generally, that sort of silliness could only come out of those who had imbibed so deeply the pagan theories of Plato about the immortality of the soul that they totally disregarded the reality of what life will be like after the Resurrection.

What seems to have been missed by you is that "post Augustinian" theories of Limbo have generally relied upon the teachings of St. Augustine regarding the eternal fate of unbaptized infants - that they cannot enter heaven, but do not deserve the punishment of eternal torments, although they are punished with deprivation of the vision of God. So the truly Catholic theology of Limbo is Augustinian. Thus St. Thomas (Summa Theologica, Supplement, Appendix 1, Q. 1, Art. 1): "On the contrary, Augustine says (Enchiridion xxiii) that the mildest punishment of all will be for those who are burdened with original sin only. But this would not be so, if they were tormented with sensible punishment, because the pain of hell fire is most grievous. Therefore they will not suffer sensible punishment." And: "Objection 1. It would seem that souls which depart with none but original sin, suffer from a bodily fire and are punished by fire. For Augustine [Fulgentius, De Fide ad Petrum, xxvii] says: "Hold firmly and doubt not that children who depart this life without the sacrament of Baptism will be punished everlastingly." Now punishment denotes sensible pain. Therefore souls which depart this life with original sin alone, suffer from a bodily fire and are tormented with the pain of fire. ... Reply to Objection 1. In the authority quoted punishment denotes, not pain of sense, but only pain of loss, which is the privation of the divine vision, even as in Scripture the word "fire" is often wont to signify any kind of punishment." Limbo is a punishment - for original sin - but its denizens do not grieve and are not sad from the pain of loss because as St. Thomas notes, the most insightful about Limbo "say that they will know perfectly things subject to natural knowledge, and both the fact of their being deprived of eternal life and the reason for this privation, and that nevertheless this knowledge will not cause any sorrow in them" since "children were never adapted to possess eternal life, since neither was this due to them by virtue of their natural principles, for it surpasses the entire faculty of nature, nor could they perform acts of their own whereby to obtain so great a good. Hence they will nowise grieve for being deprived of the divine vision; nay, rather will they rejoice for that they will have a large share of God's goodness and their own natural perfections. ... Wherefore the lack of ... grace will not cause sorrow in children who die without Baptism, any more than the lack of many graces accorded to others of the same condition makes a wise man to grieve." Again, according to St. Thomas, eternity in Limbo is a punishment, just as St. Augustine stated. There is no distinction between the two's doctrine.

16 posted on 06/23/2005 8:44:47 PM PDT by Hermann the Cherusker
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To: Hermann the Cherusker
Vatican theologians to shine "light of God's mercy" on Limbo conundrum.
17 posted on 06/23/2005 9:02:36 PM PDT by sinkspur (If you want unconditional love with skin, and hair and a warm nose, get a shelter dog.)
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To: Hermann the Cherusker; gbcdoj; Dionysiusdecordealcis; jo kus

I am inclined to think the Hermann sufficiently explained the fundamental unity between Augustinian and Thomist views on original sin; I am wondering if Dionysius or Jo might have more to say, as I recall your posts on this subject.

18 posted on 06/27/2005 4:04:50 PM PDT by annalex
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To: annalex
Father Cantalamessa on Limbo and the Unbaptized
19 posted on 01/27/2006 1:24:36 PM PST by annalex
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To: annalex

keep-alive bump.

20 posted on 03/05/2012 5:43:00 PM PST by annalex (
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