From the LA Times:
Vatican panel condemns limbo to eternal dustbin
Catholic doctrine states that because all humans are tainted by original sin, thanks to Adam and Eve, baptism is essential for salvation. But the idea of limbo has fallen out of favor for many Catholics, who see it as harsh and not befitting a merciful God.
In the 5th century, St. Augustine declared that all unbaptized babies went to hell upon death. By the Middle Ages, the idea was softened to suggest a less severe fate, limbo.In his Divine Comedy, Dante characterized limbo as the first circle of hell and populated it with the great thinkers of ancient Greece and Rome, as well as leading Islamic philosophers.
The document published Friday said the question of limbo had become a “matter of pastoral urgency” because of the growing number of babies who do not receive the baptismal rite. Especially in Africa and other parts of the world where Catholicism is growing but has competition from other faiths such as Islam, high infant mortality rates mean many families live with a church teaching them that their babies could not go to heaven.
Father Thomas Weinandy, executive director for doctrine at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the document “addresses the issue from a whole new perspective — if we are now hoping these children get to heaven, there is no longer any point in worrying about limbo.”
I was brought up protestant (not Catholic), but you really have to wonder about these guys. They had a doctrine for centuries, they believed it, they claim to have a “personal relationship” with God (that term being rather ambiguous), and that the Pope is God’s representative on earth, yet now they change the doctrine (oops, guess we were wrong about that whole “limbo” thing). It just goes to show how the church is just making stuff up as they go along, and now they’ve decided (based on popular and personal opinion) that it’s kind of harsh to put babies in limbo. Yet, they claim to have divine guidance. So, which is it – were they wrong about limbo for centuries (and their supposed “personal relationship with God” involved no actual communication with the highest members of the Catholic church), or are they wrong now (despite their supposed capability to get communication from God)?