suffering for the fiction
Lefty Catholics have been strangely gleeful over the kybosh given the theory of limbo -- strangely, that is, given their embrace of Karl Rahner's notion of the Anonymous Christian, which serves as a kind of bedtime stuffed animal for thumb-sucking theologians. In recent decades, of course, academic sentimentalisms have migrated from unbaptised babies to uncircumcised Amazonian tribesmen, whence Rahner is more fashionable than Peter Lombard. In his essay "Saying Goodbye to Limbo" (subscriber content), the NCR's Tim Unsworth gloats that, as a youth, he "was condemned to memorize some catechism answers that are about to be officially voided." Bring out the rack!
Benedict XVI has given his theologians about a year to announce some new wordings that will get the church out of the corner it has painted itself into. Maybe the Vatican will limit limbo's enrollment simply to the just who lived in pre-Ascension times.
I dunno. But after over 65 years, my knuckles are still hurting from Sr. Magella's blows with her clicker because I couldn't remember that limbo was a place of rest and natural happiness.
I confess I'm skeptical about the extent of knuckle-abuse visited by pre-Conciliar nuns upon invariably innocent schoolchildren. The stereotyped punishment always accompanies the same story of self-pity and indignation that has the same bogus ring to it. Still, it's best that a non-existent catholicism be discredited by non-existent beatings, even if they remain unhealed six decades after the fiction.
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Posted by: Sterling -
Feb. 05, 2006 12:09 PM ET USA
Limbo IS mercy, unless you think we are owed Heaven just because we want it for ourselves or someone else. Souls in limbo live in natural joy we can't imagine. Without the "equipment" to consider Divine Intimacy, they are not sad about its absence, anymore than a fish misses birdflight. By the way, a few nuns WERE cruel - sorry if that's heresy. They would pull ears, slap, and terrify tiny children. One tiny kid got sick - they made her clean it up. People remember this stuff vividly.
Posted by: -
Feb. 03, 2006 9:23 AM ET USA
I must disagree with pinecone, Limbo was both logical and merciful for those that did not pass the trial for salvation but committed no actual sin. Baptism is required enrote to the beatific vision. Catholics that expect other Catholics to believe and obey the infallible doctrines and judgements of the Magisterium are not being judgmental.
Posted by: Coco -
Feb. 02, 2006 6:34 PM ET USA
Right on, frjimc. Unfortunately, I am not old enough to have been taught The Baltimore Catechism. 12 years of Catholic school taught me that I'm a part of the Easter Poeple and pretty much everyone goes to Heaven because God is Love. My 11-year-old son is learning directly from the BC, and, so far, nothing about Limbo. I thought it was a popular notion with influential theologens way back when, but never made official by the Church. So what is the history of Limbo?
Posted by: -
Feb. 02, 2006 5:41 PM ET USA
Whoah's comment sounds very accurate. As to limbo's existence, it may be logical, but it lacks mercy. After my wife had three miscarriages, I thought that perhaps as Catholic parents who would bring our children to the font, why could they not be considered as catechumens? We know that catechumens who die prior to baptism still enter the Kingdom (CCC 1259). Since children are brought to baptism by parents, why can't the parents' desire of it for those not yet born also be the unborn's salvation?
Posted by: -
Feb. 02, 2006 2:09 PM ET USA
In speaking with a member of the International Theological Commission, I was told that the "pope is getting rid of limbo" story is a complete fabrication of an Italian journalist. They did not recommend that limbo "be abolished", nor did the pope suggest such a thing. I was told that the discussion is instead centered around God's universal wish that all men be saved and how that interfaces with the necessity of baptism for salvation.
Posted by: shrink -
Feb. 02, 2006 11:57 AM ET USA
Sister M evidentally did not hit little Timmy hard enough.
Posted by: patriot6908 -
Feb. 02, 2006 11:45 AM ET USA
Where all these vicious pre-Vatican II nuns come from is amazing to me. I don't know any of my peers who experienced the Uday/Qusay habited females of the 1940s and 1950s. That said, our sisters were quite courageous and maintained discipline worthy of a Marine DI. A bit of sideburn tweaking here and there, and a 4'10" elderly female starring down a 6'2" 14-year old 200 pound lout made her tougher than John Wayne.
Posted by: benedictusoblatus -
Feb. 02, 2006 10:50 AM ET USA
Limbo is a logically consistent theory that attempts to address the fact of Original Sin and the necessity of baptism (whether sacramental, "of blood" or "of desire") for salvation. God has given us "ordinary" means of salvation.He can act differently in so-called "extraordinary" cases. Give up on Limbo if you wish, but it would be a clear and indefensible error to go too far and claim that revelation supports a theory of universal salvation for the unbaptized.
Posted by: frjimc -
Feb. 02, 2006 9:42 AM ET USA
Count the outright errors: 1. Church is "herself," not "itself;" 2. Nuns used rulers, not tiny clickers ("crickets") to slap knuckles; 3. Sister would have been named "Majella," not "Magella." Now count the things we just don't believe: 1. Limbo was always a theory, so where's that catechism? 2. You remember that you were struck for forgetting THAT particular answer? 3. You're still nursing pain from 65 years ago? Go ahead, add your own to the list . . .can we believe him at all?