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Unbaptised infants

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 Contents - Dec 2007AD2000 December 2007 - Buy a copy now
Editorial: Liturgy: light at the end of the tunnel - Michael Gilchrist
Liturgy: Australian archbishops report progress with new English Mass translations - Michael Gilchrist
News: The Church Around the World
Schools: The state of Catholic education: teacher and student experiences - Br Barry Coldrey
Catechetics: Religious education in Catholic schools: the role of parish priests - Michael Gilchrist
Church History: Interesting aspects of ecumenical councils - Frank Mobbs
Britain: British Catholicism: the salt has lost its flavour - John Haldane
1962 Missal: Australian bishops support Benedict XV's liberalising of the Latin Mass - AD2000 Report
Architecture: Did Vatican II recommend the removal of altar rails? - M. Cassey
Letters: Dissent - Brian Bibby
Letters: Far-sightedness of Father Purcell - Fr Brian Harrison OS
Letters: Response - Don Gaffney
Letters: Narrow way - F. Thims
Letters: Latin Mass - Carol V. Phillips
Letters: Pope's Masses - Paul Martin
Letters: True Church - Peter D. Howard
Letters: Homosexual 'marriage' - Arnold Jago
Letters: Unbaptised infants - Lawrence R. Hurley
Letters: Archaeology - Ann Marie Streda
Events: Latin Masses for Christmas in Caulfield and Kew
Books: JESUS, THE APOSTLES AND THE EARLY CHURCH by Pope Benedict XVI - Tim Cannon (reviewer)
Books: THE CATHOLIC PRIESTHOOD AND WOMEN by Sara Butler MSBT - Paul Woodbury (reviewer)
Books: Books available from AD Books
Reflection: May we deepen our longing for the Lord's coming - Bishop Arthur Serratelli

In an earlier letter (February AD2000) I stated that the question as to the salvation of unbaptised infants had been referred to a theological commission whose advice had not then been issued.

On 20 April the International Theological Commission published its document entitled 'The hope of salvation for infants who die without being baptised', a lengthy document of 27 pages, which is well summarised in an Inside the Vatican interview with a member of the Commission, the American nun, Sr Sara Butler MSBT.

The Commission's document is said to have 'sparked a lot of controversy' but 'is trying to say what the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 1260, 1261, 1283) has already said: that we have a right to hope that God will find a way to offer the grace of Christ' to such infants, and 'trying to provide a theological rationale for what has already been proposed in several magisterial documents since the Council.'

In paragraph 37 of the document a line from the Council of Lyons II is cited: 'as for the souls of those who die in mortal sin or with original sin only, they go down immediately to hell to be punished with different punishments'. It says that these magisterial statements do not oblige us to think that these infants die with the stain of original sin for the reason that 'the focus was not on the destiny of unbaptised infants who die but on when the soul was judged'.

This would also apply to the same statement of the Council of Florence. Also, 'the affirmation that infants who die without Baptism suffer the privation of the beatific vision has long been the common doctrine of the Church, which must be distinguished from the faith of the Church' (paragraph 40).

Finally, Sister Butler says: 'The report concludes that Limbo remains a 'possible theological opinion.' Anyone who defends it is free to do so.'

I make no comment about the foregoing or the other contents of the report, especially as space does not permit me to do so, but I hope some of your other readers will do so, particularly as it is strange that no comment has been made in AD2000 on the document despite the considerable correspondence in the September 2006 to December 2006/January 2007 issues.

Cooroy, Qld

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Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 20 No 11 (December 2007 - January 2008), p. 15

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