Unborn Babies and Original Sin - Mothering Forums

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Old 12-19-2007, 11:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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For those of you who believe that life starts at conception and original sin (namely Catholics, but I'm sure others as well), how do you reconcile the two if there is a miscarriage or abortion that takes place? Or do you? Is there a church stance on the issue? Are unborn babies "stained"?

*For the record, I'm not trying to be inflammatory. Frog mentioned something in another thread about not baptizing her tadpoles and my mind took that to a completely different place. I'm genuinely curious about where people land on this issue and whether or not there is a church stance on the souls of the unborn. Thanks in advance to all who reply.
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Old 12-19-2007, 12:06 PM
 
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I'm not sure what you mean? Do you mean do unborn babies not go to heaven since they haven't been baptized?
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Old 12-19-2007, 12:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm not sure what you mean? Do you mean do unborn babies not go to heaven since they haven't been baptized?
Yeah. I guess I'm just thinking, if you believe that life starts at conception, then wouldn't that life be stained by original sin as well? And if so, what becomes of that life should it die before being born (since you obviously can't baptize the unborn.) Is that any clearer?
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Old 12-19-2007, 02:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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no one????
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Old 12-19-2007, 02:33 PM
 
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Yeah. I guess I'm just thinking, if you believe that life starts at conception, then wouldn't that life be stained by original sin as well? And if so, what becomes of that life should it die before being born (since you obviously can't baptize the unborn.) Is that any clearer?
The Catholic Church doesn't believe in limbo or the idea that unbaptized babies are stained with such sin that would prevent them from going to heaven.
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Old 12-19-2007, 02:41 PM
 
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As a Catholic, I believe in a just and merciful God. It's my belief that God has the power to save those unborn children, and I think he does. Here is an interesting and accessible discussion from Catholic Answers on the topic.

Wife to a wonderful dh and mom to four beautiful kiddos, dd (3/04):, ds1 (1/06), ds2 (10/08), and ds3 (7/10)
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Old 12-19-2007, 02:47 PM
 
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In a nutshell, the Church doesn't say what happens to such babies. It says we trust them to God's infinite mercy.

In general the Church doesn't say who's where in the afterlife, other than canonized saints, the devil, angels and demons.
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Old 12-19-2007, 02:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The Catholic Church doesn't believe in limbo or the idea that unbaptized babies are stained with such sin that would prevent them from going to heaven.
Huh. So when exactly are people responsible for original sin? I though the whole concept of original sin was that our very essence was stained by Adam and Eve, therefore separating us from God. Is that incorrect? I guess now I'm wondering, when exactly do the effects of original sin grab hold of us?

Also, I thought one of the main reasons Catholics baptized infants was to cleanse them from original sin (and it's effects) until they were at an age of reason. Am I off base?

Now I'm totally lost.
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Old 12-19-2007, 02:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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As a Catholic, I believe in a just and merciful God. It's my belief that God has the power to save those unborn children, and I think he does. Here is an interesting and accessible discussion from Catholic Answers on the topic.
Thanks for the link.
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Old 12-19-2007, 02:52 PM
 
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The Catholic Church doesn't believe in limbo or the idea that unbaptized babies are stained with such sin that would prevent them from going to heaven.
Lisalou, you're right about the no limbo thing, but incorrect about babies being shielded from Original Sin. The Church teaches that all human beings, with the sole exception of Mary, have the stain of Original Sin on their souls. Even babies.

However, the Church recognizes more baptisms than water baptism. There is also baptism by blood and by desire. We don't know what goes on at the moment of death, and perhaps when unbaptised babies die, God stretches that moment out long enough for the soul to desire baptism.

We do know that God is merciful, and His mercy is infinite.

Hope that answers your question, Ms. QsMama!
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Old 12-19-2007, 02:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Lisalou, you're right about the no limbo thing, but incorrect about babies being shielded from Original Sin. The Church teaches that all human beings, with the sole exception of Mary, have the stain of Original Sin on their souls. Even babies.

However, the Church recognizes more baptisms than water baptism. There is also baptism by blood and by desire. We don't know what goes on at the moment of death, and perhaps when unbaptised babies die, God stretches that moment out long enough for the soul to desire baptism.

We do know that God is merciful, and His mercy is infinite.

Hope that answers your question, Ms. QsMama!
For the most part, it does. I suppose it's just one of those unknowable things. I don't believe in original sin, but I completely agree that God is infinitely merciful, just, and loving.

Thank you all for the answers.
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Old 12-19-2007, 03:02 PM
 
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Lisalou, you're right about the no limbo thing, but incorrect about babies being shielded from Original Sin. The Church teaches that all human beings, with the sole exception of Mary, have the stain of Original Sin on their souls. Even babies.

However, the Church recognizes more baptisms than water baptism. There is also baptism by blood and by desire. We don't know what goes on at the moment of death, and perhaps when unbaptised babies die, God stretches that moment out long enough for the soul to desire baptism.

We do know that God is merciful, and His mercy is infinite.

Hope that answers your question, Ms. QsMama!
Sorry my response was poorly worded for that. I meant that the catholic church as you pointed out doesn't think these unbaptized babies go to hell b/c of the stain of original sin.
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Old 12-19-2007, 03:08 PM
 
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Ahhhh....if only all religious discussions could be so genteel!
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Old 12-19-2007, 03:20 PM
 
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Huh. So when exactly are people responsible for original sin? I though the whole concept of original sin was that our very essence was stained by Adam and Eve, therefore separating us from God. Is that incorrect? I guess now I'm wondering, when exactly do the effects of original sin grab hold of us?

Also, I thought one of the main reasons Catholics baptized infants was to cleanse them from original sin (and it's effects) until they were at an age of reason. Am I off base?

Now I'm totally lost.

Lisalou told you incorrectly.

The Catholic Church has always taught the existence of Limbo as being the place where the souls of the unbaptized innocent go, where they deserve no punishment and yet also merit no reward. The Church has always described Limbo as a place of perfect natural happiness where the souls there experience no pain of sense, however, they are deprived of the Beatific Vision (seeing the face of God) that a soul experiences in Heaven. The "punishment" (as it were) of Limbo is due strictly to the stain of Original Sin passed down to us all from Adam. Baptism is what removes the punishment due to Original Sin, which is why Catholics baptize their infants, so that if they should die, they may be permitted to enter Heaven.

Everything I have stated above is the official Church position, and NOT my personal opinion. I believe in what the Church teaches, and has always taught.

That being said, there are more liberal-minded Catholics who mistakenly believe that Pope Benedict's recent April 20, 2007 statement "did away" with Limbo. Again, that is not at all true.

The Pope's statement merely said we can "hope" that perhaps God has provided for some way we are unaware of for those unbaptized innocent to get into Heaven, but it's just that - hope.

Here is the link to the official statement from the Vatican on the topic which caused all the confusion and started people thinking Limbo had been "dismissed."

http://www.ewtn.com/library/CURIA/itclimbo.HTM

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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 (cf. Jn 16:12). 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 (cf. 1 Thes 5:18).

103. 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.135 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.

The lovely thing about the Vatican's official statement is that it has a loooong extensive list at the bottom of all the referenced Doctors of the Church's writings on the topic of Limbo, as well as Councils, etc. so you can read what the Church has always taught.

One must consider the larger theological implications of "doing away" with Limbo. While it is a nice sentiment to hope that God has a way to get the unbaptized innocent into Heaven, if the Church were to officially deny the existence of Limbo and therefore, deny the punishment due to Original Sin, this would also "do away" with the Sacrament of Baptism. It then follows that if there is no Original Sin, and therefore no need of Baptism, then we would not be a fallen race, and there would be no need of a Redeemer. If there is no need of a Redeemer, then that would make Jesus just a man and not the Divine Second Person of the Holy Trinity, and therefore all of Christianity would fall apart and be pointless.
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Old 12-19-2007, 03:30 PM
 
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StacyL,

Respectfully, the Church has, at some points, theorized about the existance of Limbo, but never officially taught it. I think it was postulated by St. Thomas Aquinas or Augustine, I can't remember which, both of whom were brilliant theologians, but not a Pope speaking ex cathedra. It began to take on force of teaching (lowercase) in the absence of any definitive Teaching from the Church. It was never a formal doctrine of the Faith, and the faithful never had to, nor do they now, believe in it.

But I'm in complete agreement with you about the dangers of downplaying the vital importance of infant baptism. However, it is my humble opinion that the "nixing of Limbo" doesn't downplay it at all. In fact, by eliminating the possibility of Limbo we are left with only two options, Heaven and Hell- which, to me, anyway, makes baptism all the more important.
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Old 12-19-2007, 03:32 PM
 
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I guess that's what happens when you go to ccd classes and 6 years of catholic school near Notre Dame, we were told there was no limbo throughout all of my education and we asked repeatedly along with what was the purpose of the sacrament of marriage (which is to have children, btw). Those darn liberal Catholics.
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Old 12-19-2007, 03:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Lisalou told you incorrectly.

The Catholic Church has always taught the existence of Limbo as being the place where the souls of the unbaptized innocent go, where they deserve no punishment and yet also merit no reward. The Church has always described Limbo as a place of perfect natural happiness where the souls there experience no pain of sense, however, they are deprived of the Beatific Vision (seeing the face of God) that a soul experiences in Heaven. The "punishment" (as it were) of Limbo is due strictly to the stain of Original Sin passed down to us all from Adam. Baptism is what removes the punishment due to Original Sin, which is why Catholics baptize their infants, so that if they should die, they may be permitted to enter Heaven.

Everything I have stated above is the official Church position, and NOT my personal opinion. I believe in what the Church teaches, and has always taught.

That being said, there are more liberal-minded Catholics who mistakenly believe that Pope Benedict's recent April 20, 2007 statement "did away" with Limbo. Again, that is not at all true.

The Pope's statement merely said we can "hope" that perhaps God has provided for some way we are unaware of for those unbaptized innocent to get into Heaven, but it's just that - hope.

Here is the link to the official statement from the Vatican on the topic which caused all the confusion and started people thinking Limbo had been "dismissed."

http://www.ewtn.com/library/CURIA/itclimbo.HTM




The lovely thing about the Vatican's official statement is that it has a loooong extensive list at the bottom of all the referenced Doctors of the Church's writings on the topic of Limbo, as well as Councils, etc. so you can read what the Church has always taught.

One must consider the larger theological implications of "doing away" with Limbo. While it is a nice sentiment to hope that God has a way to get the unbaptized innocent into Heaven, if the Church were to officially deny the existence of Limbo and therefore, deny the punishment due to Original Sin, this would also "do away" with the Sacrament if Baptism. It then follows that if there is no Original Sin, and therefore no need of Baptism, then we would not be a fallen race, and there would be no need of a Redeemer. If there is no need of a Redeemer, then that would make Jesus just a man and not the Divine Second Person of the Holy Trinity, and therefore alll of Christianity would fall apart and be pointless.
Thank you for the link and clarification Stacy. Off to read the document in it's entirety....
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Old 12-19-2007, 03:42 PM
 
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Is limbo the same as purgatory?
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Old 12-19-2007, 03:51 PM
 
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Is limbo the same as purgatory?
Nope. Purgatory is a defined dogma of the Church. It is the place where final sanctification takes place. That is, every person in Purgatory is going to Heaven.

The teaching of Limbo theorizes that it is a place where the souls there enjoy happiness, but not Heaven.

Everyone in Purgatory will go to Heaven. No one in Limbo will.
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Old 12-19-2007, 03:51 PM
 
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Is limbo the same as purgatory?
No.

Purgatory is not eternal, and is a place of temporary expiation for unforgiven venial sins or forgiven venial sins that have not been fully satisfied in God's Justice. All the souls in Purgatory will eventually reach Heaven, and at the end of time, there will be no more Purgatory, whereas, Heaven, Hell, and Limbo are eternal.
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Old 12-19-2007, 03:56 PM
 
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Respectfully, the Church has, at some points, theorized about the existance of Limbo, but never officially taught it. I think it was postulated by St. Thomas Aquinas or Augustine, I can't remember which, both of whom were brilliant theologians, but not a Pope speaking ex cathedra. It began to take on force of teaching (lowercase) in the absence of any definitive Teaching from the Church. It was never a formal doctrine of the Faith, and the faithful never had to, nor do they now, believe in it.
While it is not an ex cathedra defined piece of Catholic dogma, it is far more that an "optional" piece of doctrine, and its significance should not be downplayed. Much of Catholic doctrine is binding upon the faithful, though still not defined as dogma.

Here is a good article on the seriousness of the teaching of Limbo upon the faithful, and it's history:

http://www.cfnews.org/Limbo.htm

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Quote:
The traditional Catholic doctrine of Limbo is in a higher category than that of a dismissible theological hypothesis. It is part of Catholic teaching since ancient times and is enshrined in magisterial pronouncements.
Pope Pius VI’s famous Apostolic Constitution Auctorem fidei, which condemned the Errors of the Synod of Pistoia, denounced the rejection of Limbo as “false, rash, slanderous to Catholic schools.”2
It is de fide — an unchangeable article of Faith — that souls who depart this life in the state of original sin are excluded from the Beatific vision.4
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Old 12-19-2007, 04:18 PM
 
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Thanks for the article, StacyL! I'll check it out when I've got some time.
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Old 12-19-2007, 04:30 PM
 
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OK, now I'm confused and I'm a cradle Catholic! I thought that the purpose of baptism was to initiate someone into their journey to salvation. I recently talked to a priest about whether the baptisms of my dc were valid. My Mom baptized them with my consent (complicated--my dh was OK with them being baptized, but not with being raised Catholic). The priest told me that this sounded like an act of superstition because it was not my intent to be initiating our dc into the Church, on their journey to salvation (reconcilation with God from our state of separation) through the sacraments.
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Old 12-19-2007, 04:54 PM
 
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I wonder if this is a pre-Vatican II post-Vatican II issue. My mother was definitely raised to believe in Limbo and she prayed in school for their souls. Her daughter (me) was definitely taught limbo didn't exist and the view we were given of baptism was much more like the one you got ChasingPeace.
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Old 12-19-2007, 04:54 PM
 
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OK, now I'm confused and I'm a cradle Catholic! I thought that the purpose of baptism was to initiate someone into their journey to salvation. I recently talked to a priest about whether the baptisms of my dc were valid. My Mom baptized them with my consent (complicated--my dh was OK with them being baptized, but not with being raised Catholic). The priest told me that this sounded like an act of superstition because it was not my intent to be initiating our dc into the Church, on their journey to salvation (reconcilation with God from our state of separation) through the sacraments.
Here's what I know from teaching DD her catechism:
Baptism removes the stain of Original Sin and infuses the soul with the gift of Sanctifying grace, without which the soul cannot enter God's presence.

The Church recognizes all baptisms (including ones done by laypeople, under certain circumstances) as valid and long as they are done in the Trinitarian formula.

As for your children's baptisms, I have no idea if they were valid or not, since I don't know what words your mother used.

Hope this helps.
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Old 12-19-2007, 05:20 PM
 
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I'm almost certainly going to be the lone voice here, but I can find no Biblical evidence that unborn babies go to heaven. If God has a different method of salvation for the unborn/very young, it isn't mentioned in the Bible.

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Old 12-19-2007, 06:02 PM
 
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What StacyL said. Thank you for wording it so well!

Jesus said: "Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and Holy Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." John ch3 verse 5.

Baptism removes Original Sin from the soul, infuses us with Sanctifying Grace and makes us a Child of God and heir to the kingdom of Heaven.

The Church has always taught that you should baptize miscarried/stillborn babies though. We don't know for sure when the soul leaves the body and there is hope that in God's mercy there is still the possibility of baptism for that soul. God is not a monster! He is very merciful and we cannot know His mind.

Peace~
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Old 12-19-2007, 08:11 PM
 
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I'm almost certainly going to be the lone voice here, but I can find no Biblical evidence that unborn babies go to heaven. If God has a different method of salvation for the unborn/very young, it isn't mentioned in the Bible.
True, but the question was originally posed about Catholic teaching, and Catholics don't subscribe to sola scriptura. We have Sacred Tradition to go along with Sacred Scripture. In other words, for Catholics, "it isn't in the Bible" doesn't necessarily mean a thing won't/can't happen.
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Old 12-19-2007, 08:13 PM
 
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Actually, the question was addressed

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For those of you who believe that life starts at conception and original sin (namely Catholics, but I'm sure others as well)
I come under 'others'. But yes, I'm familiar with the fact that Catholics don't hold to Sola Scriptura.

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Old 12-19-2007, 08:23 PM
 
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Actually, the question was addressed


I come under 'others'. But yes, I'm familiar with the fact that Catholics don't hold to Sola Scriptura.
Fair enough. Skimming through, I saw only "Catholics", and not "others". My bad!
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