Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Limbo doesnt rock

With the 'abolition' of limbus infantium, Pope Benedict XVI has now declared that babies who died that havent been baptized, indeed those who died without having been born, go to heaven. With this new interpretation, has the Catholic Church placed itself on a slippery slope? One wonders what happens to the Catholic doctrine of Original Sin, that is, that all humanity is born with the sin inherited from Adam's sin, and that we are all collectively guilty of this sin from the moment of conception, and that the sacrament of Baptism is needed to cleanse the infant of this original sin because no one can enter heaven with any hint of corruption. By allowing non-baptized unborn babies into heaven, what then happens to original sin? Is a major rethink of this doctrine taking place? How much wiggle room does the Catholic Church have?

Original sin as interpreted by Catholics has a very technical meaning. Unlike normal sin, original sin is not an act but a state. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Original sin is the privation of sanctifying grace in consequence of the sin of Adam. (Section VI. Nature of Original Sin.) It is therefore not the guilt of Adam that is transmitted to all mankind, but the state of corruption and separation from God. But at the same time, they believe that since Adam willfully sinned, and since Adam was the first human, there is a moral unity of our will with the will of Adam, since Adam, acting as representative for mankind, was acting for all of us. We are not guilty of Adam's sin as individuals, but are guilty of Adam's sin as part of the human race. That's a pretty wide wiggle room if you ask me. Babies, not being guilty as individuals, are free to enter heaven, the collective guilt in Adam presumably have been erased in them through means that I can only assume are being worked out by Catholic theologians.

But this runs right smack into the sacrament of Baptism. The Council of Trent, Session V says:
4. If anyone denies that infants, newly born from their mothers' wombs, are to be
baptized, even though they be born of baptized parents, or says that they are indeed
baptized for the remission of sins, but that they derive nothing of original sin from
Adam which must be expiated by the laver of regeneration for the attainment of eternal life, whence it follows that in them the form of baptism for the remission of sins is to be understood not as true but as false, let him be anathema...
If unbaptized babies can now go to heaven, doesnt this run afoul of the infallible declarations of the Council of Trent? I dont know how the Catholic theologians would explain this without a reinterpretation of the doctrines of original sin and baptism. But I trust theyre working on it.


Baldagyi Hatipoglu said...

Remember that there wasn't a new dogma, just a debunking of a preexisting non-dogma, which has been clarified to be primarily an act of hope, rather than make a new tenet on something.

Jego said...

That is true, my Magyar friend. Limbo wasnt dogma. But the implications of its 'abolition' has implications on the dogmatic doctrines of original sin and baptism. Some conservatives within the Catholic church are already calling the Pope a heretic.

I googled limbo heresy pope benedict and out came:

Baldagyi Hatipoglu said...

joseph ratzinger a heretic?!?! (furiously making the sign of the cross). omg, didn't they know he used to head the guardian of doctrine of the faith org or something like that?

Jego said...

Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, formerly known as the Holy Office, formerly known as the Inquisition, yup--he used to be Grand Inquisitor. said...

jego, don't know how you understood #4 of The Council of Trent. I wouldn't be able to tell someone else what that statement was saying. =)

Jego said...

Haha. I know what you mean, dikitan. The translation was trying to be true to the original Latin as much as possible, hence the weird sentence.