Limbo
Overview
 
In the theology of the Catholic Church, Limbo (Latin limbus, edge or boundary, referring to the "edge" of Hell
Hell
In many religious traditions, a hell is a place of suffering and punishment in the afterlife. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells as endless. Religions with a cyclic history often depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations...

) is a speculative idea about the afterlife
Afterlife
The afterlife is the belief that a part of, or essence of, or soul of an individual, which carries with it and confers personal identity, survives the death of the body of this world and this lifetime, by natural or supernatural means, in contrast to the belief in eternal...

 condition of those who die in original sin
Original sin
Original sin is, according to a Christian theological doctrine, humanity's state of sin resulting from the Fall of Man. This condition has been characterized in many ways, ranging from something as insignificant as a slight deficiency, or a tendency toward sin yet without collective guilt, referred...

 without being assigned to the Hell of the damned. Limbo is not an official doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 or any other. Medieval theologians, in western Europe, described the underworld ("hell", "hades
Hades
Hades , Hadēs, originally , Haidēs or , Aidēs , meaning "the unseen") was the ancient Greek god of the underworld. The genitive , Haidou, was an elision to denote locality: "[the house/dominion] of Hades". Eventually, the nominative came to designate the abode of the dead.In Greek mythology, Hades...

", "infernum") as divided into four distinct parts: hell of the damned
Hell
In many religious traditions, a hell is a place of suffering and punishment in the afterlife. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells as endless. Religions with a cyclic history often depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations...

 (which some call Gehenna
Gehenna
Gehenna , Gehinnom and Yiddish Gehinnam, are terms derived from a place outside ancient Jerusalem known in the Hebrew Bible as the Valley of the Son of Hinnom ; one of the two principal valleys surrounding the Old City.In the Hebrew Bible, the site was initially where apostate Israelites and...

), Purgatory
Purgatory
Purgatory is the condition or process of purification or temporary punishment in which, it is believed, the souls of those who die in a state of grace are made ready for Heaven...

, limbo of the fathers, and limbo of infants.
The "Limbo of the Patriarchs" or "Limbo of the Fathers" (Latin limbus patrum) is seen as the temporary state of those who, in spite of the personal sins they may have committed, died in the friendship of God, but could not enter Heaven until redemption by Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 Christ
Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

 made it possible.
Encyclopedia
In the theology of the Catholic Church, Limbo (Latin limbus, edge or boundary, referring to the "edge" of Hell
Hell
In many religious traditions, a hell is a place of suffering and punishment in the afterlife. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells as endless. Religions with a cyclic history often depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations...

) is a speculative idea about the afterlife
Afterlife
The afterlife is the belief that a part of, or essence of, or soul of an individual, which carries with it and confers personal identity, survives the death of the body of this world and this lifetime, by natural or supernatural means, in contrast to the belief in eternal...

 condition of those who die in original sin
Original sin
Original sin is, according to a Christian theological doctrine, humanity's state of sin resulting from the Fall of Man. This condition has been characterized in many ways, ranging from something as insignificant as a slight deficiency, or a tendency toward sin yet without collective guilt, referred...

 without being assigned to the Hell of the damned. Limbo is not an official doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 or any other. Medieval theologians, in western Europe, described the underworld ("hell", "hades
Hades
Hades , Hadēs, originally , Haidēs or , Aidēs , meaning "the unseen") was the ancient Greek god of the underworld. The genitive , Haidou, was an elision to denote locality: "[the house/dominion] of Hades". Eventually, the nominative came to designate the abode of the dead.In Greek mythology, Hades...

", "infernum") as divided into four distinct parts: hell of the damned
Hell
In many religious traditions, a hell is a place of suffering and punishment in the afterlife. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells as endless. Religions with a cyclic history often depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations...

 (which some call Gehenna
Gehenna
Gehenna , Gehinnom and Yiddish Gehinnam, are terms derived from a place outside ancient Jerusalem known in the Hebrew Bible as the Valley of the Son of Hinnom ; one of the two principal valleys surrounding the Old City.In the Hebrew Bible, the site was initially where apostate Israelites and...

), Purgatory
Purgatory
Purgatory is the condition or process of purification or temporary punishment in which, it is believed, the souls of those who die in a state of grace are made ready for Heaven...

, limbo of the fathers, and limbo of infants.

Limbo of the Patriarchs

The "Limbo of the Patriarchs" or "Limbo of the Fathers" (Latin limbus patrum) is seen as the temporary state of those who, in spite of the personal sins they may have committed, died in the friendship of God, but could not enter Heaven until redemption by Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 Christ
Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

 made it possible. The term "Limbo of the Fathers" was a medieval name for the part of the underworld (Hades) where the patriarchs of the Old Testament were believed to be kept until Christ's soul descended into it by his death through crucifixion and freed them (see Harrowing of Hell
Harrowing of Hell
The Harrowing of Hell is a doctrine in Christian theology referenced in the Apostles' Creed and the Athanasian Creed that states that Jesus Christ "descended into Hell"...

). The Catechism of the Catholic Church
Catechism of the Catholic Church
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the official text of the teachings of the Catholic Church. A provisional, "reference text" was issued by Pope John Paul II on October 11, 1992 — "the thirtieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council" — with his apostolic...

 describes Christ's descent into "hell" as meaning primarily that "the crucified one sojourned in the realm of the dead prior to his resurrection. This was the first meaning given in the apostolic preaching to Christ's descent into hell: that Jesus, like all men, experienced death and in his soul joined the others in the realm of the dead." It adds: "But he descended there as Saviour, proclaiming the Good News to the spirits imprisoned there." It does not use the word "Limbo".

The Limbo of the Fathers was the abode of people who, before Jesus' Resurrection, had died in the friendship of God, but had to wait for Christ to open heaven's gates. This concept of Limbo affirms that one can get into heaven only through Jesus Christ but does not portray Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

, etc., as being punished eternally in Hell.

Like other religious terms, such as "Trinity
Trinity
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons : the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial . Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being...

", the term "Limbo" does not appear in the Bible. And like other religious concepts, that of the Limbo of the Patriarchs is not spelled out in Scripture, but is seen by some as implicit in various references.

speaks of the "bosom of Abraham
Bosom of Abraham
"Bosom of Abraham" refers to the place of comfort in sheol where the Jews said the righteous dead awaited Judgment Day.-Origin of the phrase:The word found in the Greek text for "bosom" is , meaning "lap" "bay"...

", which both the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church, following early Christian writers, understand as a temporary state of souls awaiting entrance into Heaven. The end of that state is set either at the resurrection of the dead
Resurrection of the dead
Resurrection of the Dead is a belief found in a number of eschatologies, most commonly in Christian, Islamic, Jewish and Zoroastrian. In general, the phrase refers to a specific event in the future; multiple prophesies in the histories of these religions assert that the dead will be brought back to...

, the most common interpretation in the East, or at the Harrowing of Hell
Harrowing of Hell
The Harrowing of Hell is a doctrine in Christian theology referenced in the Apostles' Creed and the Athanasian Creed that states that Jesus Christ "descended into Hell"...

, the most common interpretation in the West, but adopted also by some in the East.

Jesus told the Good Thief
Saint Dismas
The Penitent thief, also known as the Thief on the Cross or the Good Thief, is an unnamed character mentioned in the Gospel of Luke who was crucified alongside Jesus and asked Jesus to remember him in his kingdom....

 that the two of them would be together "this day" in "Paradise" ; but between on the Sunday of his resurrection
Resurrection
Resurrection refers to the literal coming back to life of the biologically dead. It is used both with respect to particular individuals or the belief in a General Resurrection of the dead at the end of the world. The General Resurrection is featured prominently in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim...

 he said that he had "not yet ascended to the Father" . Some say that the descent of Jesus to the abode of the dead, his presence among them, turned it into a paradise. Others understand the text to mean not "I say to you, This day you will be with me in paradise", but "I say to you this day, You will be with me in paradise". Timothy Radcliffe
Timothy Radcliffe
Timothy Radcliffe, OP is a Catholic priest and Dominican friar of the English Province, and former Master of the Order of Preachers from 1992-2001...

 explained the "today" as a reference to the "Today of eternity".

Jesus is also described as preaching to "the spirits in prison" (1 Pet 3:19). Medieval drama sometimes portrayed Christ leading a dramatic assault—The Harrowing of Hell
Harrowing of Hell
The Harrowing of Hell is a doctrine in Christian theology referenced in the Apostles' Creed and the Athanasian Creed that states that Jesus Christ "descended into Hell"...

—during the three days between the Crucifixion
Crucifixion
Crucifixion is an ancient method of painful execution in which the condemned person is tied or nailed to a large wooden cross and left to hang until dead...

 and the resurrection. In this assault, Jesus freed the souls of the just and escorted them triumphantly into heaven. This imagery is still used in the Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

's Holy Saturday
Holy Saturday
Holy Saturday , sometimes known as Easter Eve or Black Saturday, is the day after Good Friday. It is the day before Easter and the last day of Holy Week in which Christians prepare for Easter...

 liturgy
Liturgy
Liturgy is either the customary public worship done by a specific religious group, according to its particular traditions or a more precise term that distinguishes between those religious groups who believe their ritual requires the "people" to do the "work" of responding to the priest, and those...

 (between Good Friday
Good Friday
Good Friday , is a religious holiday observed primarily by Christians commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary. The holiday is observed during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum on the Friday preceding Easter Sunday, and may coincide with the Jewish observance of...

 and Pascha
Easter
Easter is the central feast in the Christian liturgical year. According to the Canonical gospels, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. His resurrection is celebrated on Easter Day or Easter Sunday...

) and in Eastern Orthodox icons of the Resurrection of Jesus
Resurrection of Jesus
The Christian belief in the resurrection of Jesus states that Jesus returned to bodily life on the third day following his death by crucifixion. It is a key element of Christian faith and theology and part of the Nicene Creed: "On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures"...

.

The doctrine expressed by the term "Limbo of the Fathers" was taught, for instance, by Clement of Alexandria
Clement of Alexandria
Titus Flavius Clemens , known as Clement of Alexandria , was a Christian theologian and the head of the noted Catechetical School of Alexandria. Clement is best remembered as the teacher of Origen...

, who maintained: "It is not right that these should be condemned without trial, and that those alone who lived after the coming (of Christ) should have the advantage of the divine righteousness."

Limbo of Infants

The Limbo of Infants (Latin limbus infantium or limbus puerorum) is a hypothesis about the permanent status of the unbaptized
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

 who die in infancy, too young to have committed personal sins, but not having been freed from original sin
Original sin
Original sin is, according to a Christian theological doctrine, humanity's state of sin resulting from the Fall of Man. This condition has been characterized in many ways, ranging from something as insignificant as a slight deficiency, or a tendency toward sin yet without collective guilt, referred...

. Since at least the time of Augustine
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...

, theologians, considering baptism to be necessary for the salvation of those to whom it can be administered, have debated the fate of unbaptized innocents, and the theory of the Limbo of Infants is one of the hypotheses that have been formulated as a proposed solution. Some who hold this theory regard the Limbo of Infants as a state of maximum natural happiness, others as one of "mildest punishment" consisting at least of privation of the beatific vision
Beatific vision
The beatific vision - in Christian theology is the ultimate direct self communication of God to the individual person, when she or he reaches, as a member of redeemed humanity in the communion of saints, perfect salvation in its entirety, i.e. heaven...

 and of any hope of obtaining it. This theory, in any of its forms, has never been dogmatically defined by the Church, but it is permissible to hold it. Recent Catholic theological speculation tends to stress the hope that these infants may attain heaven instead of the supposed state of Limbo.

While the Catholic Church has a defined
Dogmatic definition
In Catholicism, a dogmatic definition is an extraordinary infallible statement published by a pope or an ecumenical council concerning a matter of faith or morals, the belief in which the Catholic Church requires of all Christians .The term most often refers to the infallible...

 doctrine on original sin, it has none on the eternal fate of unbaptized infants, leaving theologians free to propose different theories, which Catholics are free to accept or reject.

The fundamental importance, in Roman Catholic theology
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

, of the sacrament of water baptism
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

 gives rise to the argument that, because original sin
Original sin
Original sin is, according to a Christian theological doctrine, humanity's state of sin resulting from the Fall of Man. This condition has been characterized in many ways, ranging from something as insignificant as a slight deficiency, or a tendency toward sin yet without collective guilt, referred...

 excludes from the beatific vision
Beatific vision
The beatific vision - in Christian theology is the ultimate direct self communication of God to the individual person, when she or he reaches, as a member of redeemed humanity in the communion of saints, perfect salvation in its entirety, i.e. heaven...

 enjoyed by the souls in heaven
Heaven
Heaven, the Heavens or Seven Heavens, is a common religious cosmological or metaphysical term for the physical or transcendent place from which heavenly beings originate, are enthroned or inhabit...

, those who have not been freed from it either by the sacrament or by baptism of desire or baptism of blood are not eligible for entry into heaven.

Latin Fathers

Saint Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...

 held that because of original sin
Original sin
Original sin is, according to a Christian theological doctrine, humanity's state of sin resulting from the Fall of Man. This condition has been characterized in many ways, ranging from something as insignificant as a slight deficiency, or a tendency toward sin yet without collective guilt, referred...

, "such infants as quit the body without being baptized will be involved in the mildest condemnation of all. That person, therefore, greatly deceives both himself and others, who teaches that they will not be involved in condemnation; whereas the apostle says: 'Judgment from one offence to condemnation' , and again a little after: 'By the offence of one upon all persons to condemnation' ."

The Council of North African bishops, which included Augustine of Hippo, held at Carthage in 418 did not explicitly endorse all aspects of Augustine's stern view about the destiny of infants who die without baptism, but the Latin Fathers of the 5th and 6th centuries did adopt his position, and it became a point of reference for Latin theologians in the Middle Ages.

Medieval theologians

In the later medieval period, some theologians continued to hold Augustine's view. In the 12th century, Peter Abelard
Peter Abelard
Peter Abelard was a medieval French scholastic philosopher, theologian and preeminent logician. The story of his affair with and love for Héloïse has become legendary...

 (1079–1142) said that these infants suffered no material torment or positive punishment, just the pain of loss at being denied the beatific vision. Others held that unbaptized infants suffered no pain at all: unaware of being deprived of the beatific vision
Beatific vision
The beatific vision - in Christian theology is the ultimate direct self communication of God to the individual person, when she or he reaches, as a member of redeemed humanity in the communion of saints, perfect salvation in its entirety, i.e. heaven...

, they enjoyed a state of natural, not supernatural happiness. This theory was associated with but independent of the term "Limbo of Infants", which was forged about the year 1300.

If heaven is a state of supernatural happiness and union with God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

, and hell is understood as a state of torture and separation from God then, in this view, the Limbo of Infants, although technically part of hell (the outermost part, "limbo" meaning "outer edge" or "hem") is seen as a sort of intermediate state.

Saint Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas, O.P. , also Thomas of Aquin or Aquino, was an Italian Dominican priest of the Catholic Church, and an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism, known as Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Communis, or Doctor Universalis...

 described the Limbo of Infants as an eternal state of natural joy, untempered by any sense of loss at how much greater their joy might have been had they been baptized. He argued that this was a reward of natural happiness for natural virtue; a reward of supernatural happiness for merely natural virtue would be inappropriate since, due to original sin
Original sin
Original sin is, according to a Christian theological doctrine, humanity's state of sin resulting from the Fall of Man. This condition has been characterized in many ways, ranging from something as insignificant as a slight deficiency, or a tendency toward sin yet without collective guilt, referred...

, unbaptized children lack the necessary supernatural grace
Divine grace
In Christian theology, grace is God’s gift of God’s self to humankind. It is understood by Christians to be a spontaneous gift from God to man - "generous, free and totally unexpected and undeserved" - that takes the form of divine favour, love and clemency. It is an attribute of God that is most...

. In regards to baptism of desire, Aquinas stated that only adults were capable of this, and this view seemed to be accepted by the Council of Florence, which quotes Aquinas in its Eleventh Session concerning baptism of infants.

The natural happiness possessed in this place would consist in the perception of God mediated through creatures. As stated in the International Theological Commission's document on the question:
Because children below the age of reason did not commit actual sin, theologians came to the common view that these unbaptized children feel no pain at all or even that they enjoy a full natural happiness through their union with God in all natural goods (Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus).


In some ways, this state bears a strong resemblance to the goal of Ignatian spirituality
Ignatian spirituality
Ignatian spirituality sometimes called Jesuit spirituality, is a Catholic spirituality which both lay and religious people have traditionally found helpful. Founded on the experiences of a 16th century saint, struggling to live a good life, it is sometimes referred to as the spirituality for...

--seeing God in all things—and would be a form of happiness rarely attained by any human walking the earth.

Modern era

The teaching of the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church
Catechism of the Catholic Church
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the official text of the teachings of the Catholic Church. A provisional, "reference text" was issued by Pope John Paul II on October 11, 1992 — "the thirtieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council" — with his apostolic...

 is that "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" and that, since "God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments," "Baptism of blood" (as in the case of the martyrs, who are understood to include the Holy Innocents) and, for catechumens at least, the explicit desire for Baptism, "together with repentance for their sins, and charity," ("Baptism of Desire") ensure salvation for those unable to receive Baptism by water.

The Ecumenical
Ecumenical council
An ecumenical council is a conference of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological experts convened to discuss and settle matters of Church doctrine and practice....

 Council of Florence
Council of Florence
The Council of Florence was an Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church. It began in 1431 in Basel, Switzerland, and became known as the Council of Ferrara after its transfer to Ferrara was decreed by Pope Eugene IV, to convene in 1438...

 (1442) spoke of baptism as necessary even for children and required that they be baptised soon after birth. This had earlier been affirmed at the local Council of Carthage in 417. The Council of Florence also stated that those who die in original sin alone go to hell. John Wycliffe
John Wycliffe
John Wycliffe was an English Scholastic philosopher, theologian, lay preacher, translator, reformer and university teacher who was known as an early dissident in the Roman Catholic Church during the 14th century. His followers were known as Lollards, a somewhat rebellious movement, which preached...

's attack on the necessity of infant baptism was condemned by another general council, the Council of Constance
Council of Constance
The Council of Constance is the 15th ecumenical council recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, held from 1414 to 1418. The council ended the Three-Popes Controversy, by deposing or accepting the resignation of the remaining Papal claimants and electing Pope Martin V.The Council also condemned and...

. The Council of Trent
Council of Trent
The Council of Trent was the 16th-century Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church. It is considered to be one of the Church's most important councils. It convened in Trent between December 13, 1545, and December 4, 1563 in twenty-five sessions for three periods...

 in 1547 explicitly stated that baptism (or desire for baptism) was the means by which one is transferred "from that state wherein man is born a child of the first Adam, to the state of grace, and of the adoption of the sons of God, through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, our Saviour.

If adults could effectively be baptised through a desire for the sacrament when prevented from actually receiving it, some speculated that perhaps sacramentally unbaptised infants too might be saved by some waterless equivalent of ordinary baptism when prevented. Thomas Cajetan
Thomas Cajetan
Thomas Cajetan , also known as Gaetanus, commonly Tommaso de Vio , was an Italian cardinal. He is perhaps best known among Protestants for his opposition to the teachings of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation while he was the Pope's Legate in Wittenberg, and perhaps best known among...

, a major 16th-century theologian, suggested that infants dying in the womb before birth, and so before ordinary sacramental baptism could be administered, might be saved through their mother's wish for their baptism. Thus, there was no clear consensus that the Council of Florence had excluded salvation of infants by such extra-sacramental equivalents of baptism.

Through the 18th and 19th centuries, individual theologians (Bianchi in 1768, H. Klee in 1835, Caron in 1855, H. Schell in 1893) continued to formulate theories of how children who died unbaptised might still be saved. By 1952 a theologian such as Ludwig Ott
Ludwig Ott
Ludwig Ott was a Catholic theologian and Medievalist from Bavaria....

 could, in a widely used and well-regarded manual, openly teach the possibility that children who die unbaptised might be saved for heaven—though he still represented their going to limbo as the commonly taught opinion. In its 1980 instruction on children's baptism the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith , previously known as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition , and after 1904 called the Supreme...

 reaffirmed that "with regard to children who die without having received baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as indeed she does in the funeral rite established for them." And in 1984, when Joseph Ratzinger
Pope Benedict XVI
Benedict XVI is the 265th and current Pope, by virtue of his office of Bishop of Rome, the Sovereign of the Vatican City State and the leader of the Catholic Church as well as the other 22 sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with the Holy See...

, then Cardinal Prefect of that Congregation, stated that, as a private theologian, he rejected the claim that children who die unbaptised cannot attain salvation, he was speaking for many academic theologians of his background and training.

Thus in 1992, the Catechism of the Catholic Church
Catechism of the Catholic Church
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the official text of the teachings of the Catholic Church. A provisional, "reference text" was issued by Pope John Paul II on October 11, 1992 — "the thirtieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council" — with his apostolic...

, while affirming that "the Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude", but also stating that "God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments", stated: "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,' 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."

On April 22, 2007, the advisory body known as the International Theological Commission
International Theological Commission
The International Theological Commission of the Roman Catholic Church consists of up to 30 Catholic theologians from around the world. These theologians are appointed for renewable five year terms and have tended to meet together in person once every year for a week...

 released a document, originally commissioned by Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II
Blessed Pope John Paul II , born Karol Józef Wojtyła , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of Vatican City from 16 October 1978 until his death on 2 April 2005, at of age. His was the second-longest documented pontificate, which lasted ; only Pope Pius IX ...

, entitled "The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die without Being Baptized."

After tracing the history of the various opinions that have been and are held on the eternal fate of unbaptized infants, including that connected with the theory of the Limbo of Infants, and after examining the theological arguments, the document stated its conclusion as follows:
Our conclusion is that the many factors that we have considered above give serious theological and liturgical grounds for hope that unbaptized infants who die will be saved and enjoy the beatific vision. We emphasize that these are reasons for prayerful hope, rather than grounds for sure knowledge. There is much that simply has not been revealed to us. We live by faith and hope in the God of mercy and love who has been revealed to us in Christ, and the Spirit moves us to pray in constant thankfulness and joy.

What has been revealed to us is that the ordinary way of salvation is by the sacrament of baptism. None of the above considerations should be taken as qualifying the necessity of baptism or justifying delay in administering the sacrament. Rather, as we want to reaffirm in conclusion, they provide strong grounds for hope that God will save infants when we have not been able to do for them what we would have wished to do, namely, to baptize them into the faith and life of the Church.


Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI
Benedict XVI is the 265th and current Pope, by virtue of his office of Bishop of Rome, the Sovereign of the Vatican City State and the leader of the Catholic Church as well as the other 22 sui iuris Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with the Holy See...

 authorized publication of this document, indicating that it is considered consonant with the Church's teaching, though it is not an official expression of that teaching. Media reports that by the document "the Pope closed Limbo" are thus without foundation. In fact, the document explicitly states that "the theory of limbo, understood as a state which includes the souls of infants who die subject to original sin and without baptism, and who, therefore, neither merit the beatific vision, nor yet are subjected to any punishment, because they are not guilty of any personal sin. This theory, elaborated by theologians beginning in the Middle Ages, never entered into the dogmatic definitions of the Magisterium, even if that same Magisterium did at times mention the theory in its ordinary teaching up until the Second Vatican Council. It remains therefore a possible theological hypothesis" (second preliminary paragraph); and in paragraph 41 it repeats that the theory of Limbo "remains a possible theological opinion". The document thus allows the hypothesis of a limbo of infants to be held as one of the existing theories about the fate of children who die without being baptised, a question on which there is "no explicit answer" from Scripture or tradition. These theories are not official teaching of the Catholic Church, but are only opinions that the Church does not condemn, permitting them to be held by its members.

Some traditionalist Catholic
Traditionalist Catholic
Traditionalist Catholics are Roman Catholics who believe that there should be a restoration of many or all of the liturgical forms, public and private devotions and presentations of Catholic teachings which prevailed in the Catholic Church before the Second Vatican Council...

s have seen publication of the Commission's study as a move "to overturn and spread confusion in the most fundamental doctrines of the Faith so as to promote the damnation of souls".

Limbo in other denominations and religions

Neither the Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 nor Protestantism
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 accepts the concept of a limbo of infants; but, while not using the expression "Limbo of the Patriarchs", the Eastern Orthodox Church lays much stress on the resurrected Christ's action of liberating Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve
Adam and Eve were, according to the Genesis creation narratives, the first human couple to inhabit Earth, created by YHWH, the God of the ancient Hebrews...

 and other righteous figures of the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

, such as Abraham
Abraham
Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

 and David
David
David was the second king of the united Kingdom of Israel according to the Hebrew Bible and, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, an ancestor of Jesus Christ through both Saint Joseph and Mary...

, from Hades
Hades
Hades , Hadēs, originally , Haidēs or , Aidēs , meaning "the unseen") was the ancient Greek god of the underworld. The genitive , Haidou, was an elision to denote locality: "[the house/dominion] of Hades". Eventually, the nominative came to designate the abode of the dead.In Greek mythology, Hades...

 (see Harrowing of Hell
Harrowing of Hell
The Harrowing of Hell is a doctrine in Christian theology referenced in the Apostles' Creed and the Athanasian Creed that states that Jesus Christ "descended into Hell"...

).

Protestants have a similar understanding of those who died as believers prior to the crucifixion of Jesus residing in a place that is not Heaven, but not Hell. The doctrine holds that Hades has two "compartments", one an unnamed place of torment, the other named Abraham's Bosom. Luke 16:19–26 speaks of a chasm fixed between the two which cannot be crossed. Those in the unnamed "compartment" have no hope, and will ultimately be consigned to hell. Those in Abraham's bosom are those of whom it is written of Jesus, "When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives..." (Eph. 4:8, quoting Psa. 68:18). These individuals, the captives, now reside with God in Heaven. Both "Compartments" still exist, but Abraham's Bosom is now empty, while the other chamber is not, according to this doctrine.

Mormons
Mormons
The Mormons are a religious and cultural group related to Mormonism, a religion started by Joseph Smith during the American Second Great Awakening. A vast majority of Mormons are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while a minority are members of other independent churches....

 teach that "all who have died without a knowledge of [the] gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God." Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses is a millenarian restorationist Christian denomination with nontrinitarian beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity. The religion reports worldwide membership of over 7 million adherents involved in evangelism, convention attendance of over 12 million, and annual...

, Christadelphians
Christadelphians
Christadelphians is a Christian group that developed in the United Kingdom and North America in the 19th century...

, and others have taught that the dead are unconscious (or even nonexistent), awaiting their destiny on Judgment Day.

The Zoroastrian concept of hamistagan
Hamistagan
As described in the 9th century Zoroastrian text Dadestan-i Denig , hamistagan is a neutral place or state for the departed souls of those whose good deeds and bad deeds were equal in life. Here these souls await Judgment Day. Meanwhile, those who did mostly good experience bliss and those who did...

is similar to limbo. Hamistagan is a neutral state in which a soul that was neither good nor evil awaits Judgment Day.

In Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

, which denies the existence of Original Sin
Original sin
Original sin is, according to a Christian theological doctrine, humanity's state of sin resulting from the Fall of Man. This condition has been characterized in many ways, ranging from something as insignificant as a slight deficiency, or a tendency toward sin yet without collective guilt, referred...

 in totality, the concept of Limbo exists as Barzakh
Barzakh
In Islamic eschatology, Barzakh is the intermediate state in which the soul of the deceased is transferred across the boundaries of the mortal realm into a kind of "cold sleep" where the soul will rest until the Qiyamah . The term appears in the Qur'an Surah 23, Ayat 100.Barzakh is a sequence that...

, the state which exists after death, prior to the day of resurrection. During this period sinners are punished and the faithful rest in comfort. The concept of underage children is that they go exempt of sin and that they are classed as Muslims and after death they go to heaven where they are cared for by Abraham.

Literature

  • In the Divine Comedy poem Inferno
    Inferno (Dante)
    Inferno is the first part of Dante Alighieri's 14th-century epic poem Divine Comedy. It is followed by Purgatorio and Paradiso. It is an allegory telling of the journey of Dante through what is largely the medieval concept of Hell, guided by the Roman poet Virgil. In the poem, Hell is depicted as...

    , Dante
    DANTE
    Delivery of Advanced Network Technology to Europe is a not-for-profit organisation that plans, builds and operates the international networks that interconnect the various national research and education networks in Europe and surrounding regions...

     depicts Limbo as the first circle of Hell, located beyond the river Acheron
    Acheron
    The Acheron is a river located in the Epirus region of northwest Greece. It flows into the Ionian Sea in Ammoudia, near Parga.-In mythology:...

     but before the judgment seat of Minos
    Minos
    In Greek mythology, Minos was a king of Crete, son of Zeus and Europa. Every year he made King Aegeus pick seven men and seven women to go to Daedalus' creation, the labyrinth, to be eaten by The Minotaur. After his death, Minos became a judge of the dead in Hades. The Minoan civilization of Crete...

    . The virtuous pagans of classical history and mythology inhabit a brightly lit and beautiful—but somber—castle which is seemingly a medieval version of Elysium
    Elysium
    Elysium is a conception of the afterlife that evolved over time and was maintained by certain Greek religious and philosophical sects, and cults. Initially separate from Hades, admission was initially reserved for mortals related to the gods and other heroes...

    . They include Hector
    Hector
    In Greek mythology, Hectōr , or Hektōr, is a Trojan prince and the greatest fighter for Troy in the Trojan War. As the first-born son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba, a descendant of Dardanus, who lived under Mount Ida, and of Tros, the founder of Troy, he was a prince of the royal house and the...

    , Julius Caesar
    Julius Caesar
    Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

    , Virgil
    Virgil
    Publius Vergilius Maro, usually called Virgil or Vergil in English , was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues , the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid...

    , Electra
    Electra
    In Greek mythology, Electra was an Argive princess and daughter of King Agamemnon and Queen Clytemnestra. She and her brother Orestes plotted revenge against their mother Clytemnestra and stepfather Aegisthus for the murder of their father Agamemnon...

    , and Orpheus
    Orpheus
    Orpheus was a legendary musician, poet, and prophet in ancient Greek religion and myth. The major stories about him are centered on his ability to charm all living things and even stones with his music; his attempt to retrieve his wife from the underworld; and his death at the hands of those who...

    . In the same work, a semi-infernal region above Limbo on the other side of Acheron but inside the Gate of Hell also exists for the Uncommitted. It is the "vestibule" of Hell and houses so-called "neutralists" or "opportunists", who devoted their lives neither to good nor to evil, they are being pursued by hornets. Its residents include those angels who did not fight at all in the war that resulted in the expulsion of Lucifer
    Lucifer
    Traditionally, Lucifer is a name that in English generally refers to the devil or Satan before being cast from Heaven, although this is not the original meaning of the term. In Latin, from which the English word is derived, Lucifer means "light-bearer"...

     from Heaven and also either Pope Celestine V
    Pope Celestine V
    Pope Saint Celestine V, born Pietro Angelerio , also known as Pietro da Morrone was elected pope in the year 1294, by the papal election of 1292–1294, the last non-conclave in the history of the Roman Catholic Church...

     or Pontius Pilate
    Pontius Pilate
    Pontius Pilatus , known in the English-speaking world as Pontius Pilate , was the fifth Prefect of the Roman province of Judaea, from AD 26–36. He is best known as the judge at Jesus' trial and the man who authorized the crucifixion of Jesus...

     (the text is ambiguous).

  • One of Nobel Prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney
    Seamus Heaney
    Seamus Heaney is an Irish poet, writer and lecturer. He lives in Dublin. Heaney has received the Nobel Prize in Literature , the Golden Wreath of Poetry , T. S. Eliot Prize and two Whitbread prizes...

    's best known works is titled Limbo. Rich with allusions to Christian teaching, the poem describes a mother drowning her illegitimate infant and its being netted by fishermen.

Movies

  • In the film Inception
    Inception
    Inception: The Subconscious Jams 1994-1995 is a compilation of unreleased tracks by the band Download.-Track listing:# "Primitive Tekno Jam" – 3:23# "Bee Sting Sickness" – 8:04# "Weed Acid Techno" – 8:19...

    , Limbo is a deep subconscious level, far beyond false awakening
    False awakening
    A false awakening is a vivid and convincing dream about awakening from sleep, while the dreamer in reality continues to sleep. After a false awakening, subjects often dream they are performing daily morning rituals such as cooking, cleaning and eating...

    , and a state in which the characters may be trapped indefinitely. Limbo is a major plot point in the film.

Video games

  • In the indie game LIMBO
    Limbo (video game)
    Limbo is a puzzle-platform video game and the premiere title of independent Danish game developer Playdead. The game was released in July 2010 as a platform exclusive title on Xbox Live Arcade, and was later re-released as part of a retail game pack along with Trials HD and Splosion Man in April...

    , a boy walks through Limbo searching for his sister, in the process he comes across many dangerous situations.
  • In the Dante's Inferno
    Dante's Inferno (video game)
    Dante's Inferno is a 2010 action-adventure video game developed by Visceral Games and published by Electronic Arts for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles. The game was also released on the PlayStation Portable and was developed by Artificial Mind and Movement...

    video game Limbo is portrayed a chaotic landscape watched over by Minos and inhabited by unbaptized infants with sickles for hands.
  • In DmC Devil May Cry, Limbo is the name of a city that drags its victims into a demonic version of its human world counterpart where demons (shown are twisted porcelain dolls) and an ever-changing landscape (floors falling out, buildings that crush their victims, etc.) frequently attempt to kill the protagonist Dante after he is pulled into Limbo when caught in the sight of one of the city's demonic cameras.

Comics

  • In Marvel Comics
    Marvel Comics
    Marvel Worldwide, Inc., commonly referred to as Marvel Comics and formerly Marvel Publishing, Inc. and Marvel Comics Group, is an American company that publishes comic books and related media...

    , Limbo is a section outside time, ruled over by a future version of Kang the Conqueror
    Kang the Conqueror
    Kang the Conqueror is a fictional character that appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character first appears in Avengers #8 , and was created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby...

     called Immortus
    Immortus
    Immortus is a fictional character in the Marvel Universe. He is the future self of Kang the Conqueror, and first appeared in Avengers #10, and was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby....

    . From there he can view many different time peroids. The Space Phantom
    Space Phantom
    Space Phantom is a name given to a number of fictional characters in the Marvel Comics universe. The first appearance of such a being was in Avengers vol. 1 #2 , they were created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.-Fictional character biography:...

     is also from there, and when he takes a form that person is sent to Limbo. There is also a Limbo known as Otherplace
    Otherplace
    Otherplace, is a fictional location in titles published by Marvel Comics. The concept debuted in Uncanny X-Men #160, and was created by Chris Claremont and Brent Anderson.-History:...

    , a dimension of demons.

Limbo as a colloquialism

Differing slightly from the original meaning, in colloquial speech, "limbo" is any status where a person or project is held up, and nothing can be done until another action happens. For example, a construction
Construction
In the fields of architecture and civil engineering, construction is a process that consists of the building or assembling of infrastructure. Far from being a single activity, large scale construction is a feat of human multitasking...

 project might be described as "in limbo" if political considerations delay its permit
Construction permit
A construction permit or building permit is a permit required in most jurisdictions for new construction, or adding on to pre-existing structures, and in some cases for major renovations. Generally, the new construction must be inspected during construction and after completion to ensure compliance...

.

A "legal limbo" may occur when varying law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

s or court ruling
Court order
A court order is an official proclamation by a judge that defines the legal relationships between the parties to a hearing, a trial, an appeal or other court proceedings. Such ruling requires or authorizes the carrying out of certain steps by one or more parties to a case...

s leave a person without recourse. For example, a person may earn "too much" to receive public assistance from the government
Government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

, but not enough to actually pay for basic necessities. Likewise, various parties in a dispute may be pointing blame
Blame
Blame is the act of censuring, holding responsible, making negative statements about an individual or group that their action or actions are socially or morally irresponsible, the opposite of praise. When someone is morally responsible for doing something wrong their action is blameworthy...

 at each other, rather than fixing the problem, and leaving the person or group suffering from the problem to continue to suffer in limbo.

The Amstrad PCW
Amstrad PCW
The Amstrad PCW series was a range of personal computers produced by British company Amstrad from 1985 to 1998, and also sold under licence in Europe as the "Joyce" by the German electronics company Schneider in the early years of the series' life. When it was launched, the cost of a PCW system was...

's bundled word processing software, LocoScript
LocoScript
thumb|right|400px|The opening Disc Management screen in LocoScript 1.40. The "hidden files" are the LocoScript software.The word processing software package LocoScript by Locomotive Software was introduced as one of the programs bundled with the Amstrad PCW, a personal computer launched in 1985...

, used the term "in limbo" to refer to files which had been deleted but which could still be restored, a concept similar to that later implemented by the Trash in the Apple Macintosh and the Recycle Bin
Recycle bin (computing)
In computing, the trash is temporary storage for files that have been deleted in a file manager by the user, but not yet permanently erased from the physical media...

 in Microsoft Windows 95. On the PCW, the files "in limbo" were marked as belonging to CP/M Plus users 8 to 15. These files were deleted automatically when the space they occupied was needed. It could therefore be dangerous to access a disk containing files created with CP/M Plus using LocoScript, since LocoScript could decide to delete anything in users 8 to 15.

In the licensing of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), properties registered under a previous scheme, but would not be licensable under mandatory arrangements, would go into a state of limbo when they expire, until the status of any potential additional licensing scheme is fully resolved.

See also

  • Hades in Christianity
    Hades in Christianity
    According to various Christian faiths, Hades is "the place or state of departed spirits".-Hades in the Old Testament:In the Septuagint , the Greek term "ᾅδης" is used to translate the Hebrew term "שׁאול" in, for example,...

  • Heaven
    Heaven
    Heaven, the Heavens or Seven Heavens, is a common religious cosmological or metaphysical term for the physical or transcendent place from which heavenly beings originate, are enthroned or inhabit...

  • Hell in Christian beliefs
    Hell in Christian beliefs
    Christian views on Hell vary, but in general traditionally agree that hell is a place or a state in which the souls of the unsaved suffer the consequences of sin....

  • Intermediate state
    Intermediate state
    In Christian eschatology, the intermediate state or interim state refers to a person's "intermediate" existence between one's death and one's resurrection from the dead...

  • Sheol
    Sheol
    Sheol |Hebrew]] Šʾôl) is the "grave", "pit", or "abyss" in Hebrew. She'ol is the earliest conception of the afterlife in the Jewish scriptures. It is a place of darkness to which all dead go, regardless of the moral choices made in life, and where they are "removed from the light of God"...

  • Spirit world (Latter Day Saints)
  • Spirits in prison
    Spirits in prison
    -New Testament:The subject takes its starting point from one obscure Bible reference:-Early Christian interpretations:According to Augustine the spirits are the unbelieving contemporaries of Noah, to whom the spirit of Christ in Noah, preached, or to whom pre-existent Christ himself...


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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