It seems the Roman Catholic Church is about to abolish the doctrine of Limbo. For centuries, Catholics were taught that if babies die before being baptized, they go to Limbo, a place that is neither Heaven nor Hell. Apparently, the theory was that the babies hadn’t had the benefit of baptism to wash away the (purported) effects of original sin, so they couldn’t be admitted to the presence of God. But neither had they personally sinned to deserve eternal damnation, so they didn’t go to Hell either.
Paragraph 1261 of the 1997 Catholic Catechism seemed to replace the doctrine of Limbo with one of agnosticism, an admission that we simply don’t know what happens to unbaptized babies when they die:
[T]he great mercy of God ... and Jesus’ tenderness toward children ... allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism.
And now a Vatican theological commission apparently is about to abolish Limbo once and for all.
It’s exciting that the church is willing to say, “We don’t know,” especially about a centuries-old doctrine that millions of faithful were once told they had to believe.
Hey, don’t stop there — the church should periodically take a fresh look at every one of its doctrines with the same open-mindedness and willingness to admit ignorance.