Monday 20th August 2018

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

Limbo And Eastern Orthodoxy

February 13, 2018 Featured Today No Comments

By JAMES LIKOUDIS

The centuries-old theological debate concerning the existence of Limbo for unbaptized babies (the limbo puerorum as a state of natural happiness) led to the 2007 publication of the document The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptized by the International Theological Commission (ITC). The commission concluded there are “serious theological and liturgical grounds for hope that unbaptized infants who die will be saved and enjoy the beatific vision.”
There immediately followed misleading and erroneous press reports that the Catholic Church had “abandoned” or “abolished” the notion of Limbo. Such statements which disturbed many Catholics were belied by statements in the document which admitted: “The Church does not have sure knowledge about the salvation of unbaptized infants who die” (n. 79) and that “the idea of Limbo…has long been used in traditional theological teaching” (n. 3). It was not only “regarded as the common doctrine of the Church” (n. 3) but “was the common Catholic teaching until the mid-20th century” (n. 26). Though never defined as a doctrine of faith, it “remains a possible theological opinion” (n. 41).
As one of the theologians of the International Theological Commission noted, “Anyone who wants to defend it is free to do so” (Sr. Sarah Butler, MSBT, in Inside the Vatican, May 2007)
One can leave to theologians to weigh and dispute the arguments brought to bear in the document to justify its “hope for a redemptive grace given to unbaptized infants who die which opens for them the way to Heaven” (n. 95). Suffice it here to recall that the ITC document is not magisterial teaching. As a theory held by great theologians for centuries, Limbo (for unbaptized children) remains a valid theological conclusion and can be said to retain a greater probability than other more modern solutions based on questionable assumptions.
Limbo cannot be easily eliminated from the theological landscape. In the Latin text of the Catechism of the Catholic Church can be found the word limbus with the link to n. 1261 which “allows us to hope [N.B., it does not require us] that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism.” The ITC document may speak of a “way of salvation,” but does not identify that “way” nor does it provide certainty as to whether such a “way” in fact exists.
The ITC document, moreover, is deficient in its treatment of the Greek Fathers of the Church. The quotes given from St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. Gregory of Nazianzus note that unbaptized children do not suffer the pains of Hell. However, both these Greek Fathers of the Church held that unbaptized babies are certainly excluded from the Beatific Vision. Though these Eastern saints refrain from naming the place where unbaptized infants go, their teaching approximates that of Limbo as understood in the Western Church. As an Eastern Orthodox writer (Nathaniel McCallum) has observed: “Limbo was taught by Greek Fathers before it was taught by Latin ones.”
It is also false for the ITC document to claim that “the idea of an inheritance of sin…common in Western tradition-was foreign to this [Eastern] perspective.” Actually, by the seventh century the core of St. Augustine’s doctrine declaring original sin an inherited sin to be remitted by Baptism was accepted in the orthodox East. This occurred when the Council in Trullo (692) in Constantinople under the Emperor Justinian II incorporated the decisions of the Council of Carthage (418-419) confirming St. Augustine’s teaching on original sin. The Council of Trullo thereby made St. Augustine’s doctrine of inherited sin the official teaching of the Orthodox East.
Today, many Eastern Orthodox theologians and writers simply reject the concept of the Limbo of children, holding categorically that unbaptized babies go to Heaven and that babies who die without Baptism attain salvation. Here again, we find such Orthodox departing from their own Byzantine Greek tradition as manifested in the teaching of the Greek Fathers who clearly exclude unbaptized infants from Heaven.
They also are seen to abandon their own liturgical tradition. For, the doctrine of Limbo finds explicit liturgical mention in the Synaxarion on the Saturday before Meatfare (this mention is strangely missing in the English translation produced by the well-known Orthodox Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia).
Similarly, in the Lenten Triodion (both in the Greek and Slavonic) one can read: “We should also know that when baptized infants die, they enjoy the Paradise of delight, whereas those not illumined by Baptism and those born of pagans go neither to Paradise nor to Gehenna. When the soul departs from the body, it has no concern for the things of this world, but only for the things of the Heavenly realm.”
In addition, a Synod of Constantinople in 1722 declared: “Not all souls in Hades are in Gehenna, i.e., the place of the damned where there is no relief”; the souls of unbaptized children rather reside in a part of Hades. This part of Hades certainly appears to be the equivalent of Limbo. Then, too, despite the negations of Orthodox theologians, it should be recalled that there are Orthodox who accept Limbo as a theologoumenon, that is, a legitimate theological opinion.
In conclusion, the strength of Catholic theological teaching manifested in both Eastern and Western traditions of a limbus puerorum for unbaptized infants cannot be easily discarded by those who appear to know more than the Church in pronouncing with eagerness that no unbaptized infant goes to Limbo.

+ + +

(James Likoudis is the author of many articles and four books dealing with Catholic-Orthodox doctrinal issues. His website is JamesLikoudisPage.com and his email address is jameslikoudis1@gmail.com.)

Share Button

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Can Pope Francis’ Death Penalty Teaching be Harmonized with Scripture and Tradition?

August 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — In the less than three weeks since the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) promulgated and explained on August 2 a new papally mandated revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s teaching on…Continue Reading

Cardinal says clock ticking for all in Catholic hierarchy over abuse issue

The chair of the Vatican’s Commission for the Protection of Minors has warned that “the clock is ticking” for the Catholic hierarchy when it comes to dealing with clerical child sex abuse. “Catholics have lost patience with us, and civil…Continue Reading

Priests: Why we’re urging Cardinals to challenge Pope Francis on death penalty

ROME, August 15, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Over 75 clergy, lay scholars and prominent intellectuals today took the unprecedented step of issuing an open appeal to the Cardinals of the Catholic Church, to urge Pope Francis to “withdraw” his new teaching on…Continue Reading

Rector Placed On Leave Amid Allegations Of Sexual Misconduct Against Boston Catholic Seminary

Following allegations of a culture of sexual misconduct and alcohol abuse at a Boston-based Catholic seminary owned by the Archdiocese of Boston, the head priest is being placed on sabbatical. Rector James P. Moroney has been placed on immediate leave pending…Continue Reading

Pennsylvania clergy sex abuse report still not released

A last-minute round of legal manoeuvring to keep some names from appearing in a grand jury report detailing a months-long investigation of clergy sex abuse claims in Pennsylvania may have kept the document from being made public on Wednesday –…Continue Reading

Vatican archbishop: Critics of Pope Francis are not faithful to Tradition

VATICAN CITY, August 7, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Those who criticize the teaching of Pope Francis on the basis of former magisterial documents are not faithful to the tradition of the Catholic Church, a high-ranking Vatican official has said. In an interview with Vatican…Continue Reading

PRO-LIFE ACTRESS SLAMS BISHOPS’ INACTION ON PRIEST SEX ABUSE CRISIS

DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) – A pro-life Hollywood actress is slamming the U.S. bishops for their failure to prevent priest sex abuse. Actress Patricia Heaton is openly pro-life and a Catholic revert. On Twitter on Aug. 2, she responded to Cdl. Daniel DiNardo’s…Continue Reading

Conservatives skeptical of Twitter’s latest shadow-banning denial

July 27, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Twitter has released an official response to the latest round of shadow-banning allegations, but the statement has failed to impress conservative, Christian, and pro-life voices affected by the practice. On Thursday, LifeSiteNews covered a Vice News report accusing the social…Continue Reading

Pope Francis’ top ‘reform’ cardinal slams seminarians for exposing homosexuality inside seminary

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras, July 26, 2018, (LifeSiteNews) – One of the Vatican’s most influential cardinals, already suspected of looking the other way while gay relationships were conducted in his personal residence, has now admonished fifty seminarians for speaking out against their seminary’s…Continue Reading

Veteran Catholic Journalist: All Bishops Involved in Sex Abuse Scandal Must Resign

Christopher Manion, a veteran journalist and political analyst, makes the striking call that all U.S. bishops should resign who knew about the ongoing abuse crisis within the U.S. hierarchy for years and yet did not intervene. He also now reveals…Continue Reading

Catholic Relief Services is a major funder of contraception lobbyists

NOTE: The following information was provided to Catholic Relief Services in person in April, 2018.  After three months of discussion on the matter, the Lepanto Institute was told that while Lepanto is convinced that CRS should withdraw from InterAction, CRS…Continue Reading

Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter Elects New Superior General

LINCOLN, Neb. — The general chapter of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, a society of apostolic life that celebrates the extraordinary form of the Roman rite, Monday elected Father Andrzej Komorowski as its next superior general. The July 9…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love

Cburke3

  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading

Catechism

Today . . .

Bishop Robert C. Morlino’s letter to the faithful regarding the ongoing sexual abuse crisis in the Church

marlino

August 18, 2018 Dear brothers and sisters in Christ of the Diocese of Madison, The past weeks have brought a great deal of scandal, justified anger, and a call for answers and action by many faithful Catholics here in the U.S. and overseas, directed at the Church hierarchy regarding sexual sins by bishops, priests, and even cardinals. Still more anger is rightly directed at those who have been complicit in keeping some of these serious…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke: U.S. Catholic Church in ‘possibly the worst crisis that it’s ever experienced’

August 16, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The Catholic Church in the U.S. is undergoing “possibly the worst crisis that it’s ever experienced” right now, Cardinal Burke said tonight of the ongoing sex abuse scandals and the laity’s distrust for bishops who play a part in it. “That has to be recognized and it has to be dealt with in a thorough manner which is faithful to the Church’s moral law and to the Church herself and…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke Addresses the Clergy Scandal

Cburke13

Thomas McKenna: Your Eminence, a new wave of clergy sexual abuse has surfaced and is indicating a widespread practice of homosexuality among clergy in dioceses and seminaries across the country. What would you say is the root cause of this corruption?   Cardinal Raymond Burke: It was clear after the studies following the 2002 sexual abuse crisis that most of the acts of abuse were in fact homosexual acts committed with adolescent young men. There…Continue Reading

Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley will not attend the World Meeting of Families

Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, OFM Cap, Archbishop of Boston and Chair of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Children, unfortunately will not be able to participate in the World Meeting of Families to be held in Dublin, Ireland from August 21-26. Though previously scheduled to moderate a panel presentation and discussion at the World Meeting of Families, important matters pertaining to the pastoral care of St. John’s Seminary in the Archdiocese of Boston and…Continue Reading

Cardinal Wuerl named in Pennsylvania grand jury report, responds to criticism

Washington D.C., Aug 14, 2018 / 02:30 pm (CNA).- Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, D.C., and the former Bishop of Pittsburgh, has been named more than 200 times in a Pennsylvania grand jury report, released Aug. 14, after an 18-month investigation into historic allegations of sexual abuse in six Pennsylvania Catholic dioceses. The cardinal released a statement in response to the report, underscoring the gravity of the sexual abuse for the Church and the…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)

Colorado Again Seeks To Punish Cake Artist Jack Phillips

DENVER — Although the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that Colorado cannot treat cake artist Jack Phillips differently than others, state officials have continued to do just that in response to a more recent complaint filed against him. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing Phillips and his cake shop filed a federal lawsuit late August…Continue Reading

Who Determines “Universal Values”?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN Is it any of Canada’s business whether Saudi women have the right to drive? Well, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland just made it her business. Repeatedly denouncing Riyadh’s arrest of women’s rights advocate Samar Badawi, Freeland has driven the two countries close to a break in diplomatic relations. “Reprehensible” said Riyadh of…Continue Reading

Refuting An Eastern Orthodox Priest’s Erroneous Comments

By JAMES LIKOUDIS An article by an Eastern Orthodox priest, Fr. David Hoestetler, published in an ecumenical magazine, The Sword (which recently ceased publishing), noted correctly with regard to Protestant misconceptions that it is indeed “scriptural and biblical to venerate Mary.” Unfortunately, the article was marred by various inaccuracies and errors. For example, he stated…Continue Reading

KCs Pledge Support For Persecuted Christians

By COURTNEY GROGAN BALTIMORE (CNA) — Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson pledged the fraternal organization’s continued efforts to aid and rebuild persecuted Christian communities in the Middle East, during his August 7 address at the 2018 Knights of Columbus convention in Baltimore. Anderson also unveiled a new pilgrim icon, Our Lady Help of…Continue Reading

A Book Review… Finding A Map For Matters Of Life And Death

By DONALD DEMARCO Matters of Life & Death: A Catholic Guide to the Moral Questions of Our Time, by Gerard M. Verschuuren (Angelico Press, Brooklyn, NY, 2018, 201 pp.). Available in paperback at amazon.com for $16.95. The state of perplexity and the need for guidance has long been characteristic of human beings. Rabbi Moses Maimonides…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Martin Luther… The Man And The Myth

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 7 (Editor’s Note: As this October marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s nailing his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Raymond de Souza is taking a break from his usual apologetics to correct the popular image of Luther.) + + + When the British paper the Catholic Herald…Continue Reading

Levels Of Conscience

By DON FIER In last week’s opening exposition on the role of conscience in the Christian moral life, it was stated straightaway that “conscience” is a term that is often misunderstood and misapplied in contemporary times. Frequently equated with one’s personal opinion or position, this entreaty to subjectivism is ready justification for nearly every conceivable immoral and aberrant behavior that…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: To a recent question about whether the ordination of a secret Communist would be invalid because he did not have the right intention, we said yes, citing canon 1029 of the Code of Canon Law, which says that those seeking the priesthood must “have an integral faith, are motivated by a right intention, possess the required knowledge, and…Continue Reading

Amid Church Scandals… Fix Your Hearts On Christ

By FR. JOHN DE CELLES (Editor’s Note: LifeSiteNews on August 6 featured the following homily by Fr. John De Celles of St. Raymond of Penafort Church, Springfield, Va., the Diocese of Arlington. (Father reminded his flock: “We follow Jesus Christ, ‘the God of Jacob,’ and we follow the Holy Catholic Church which He founded.” (In May 2005, Fr. De Celles…Continue Reading

The Eucharist Is Jesus Himself

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twentieth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: Prov. 9:1-6 Eph. 5:15-20 John 6:51-58 In the Gospel reading today our Lord makes several statements that we either have to believe are true or we have to run as far and as quickly from Him as we can. People who want to call themselves Christian while ignoring…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Clare Of Montefalco

By CAROLE BRESLIN In central Italy about one hundred miles north of Rome, lies the peaceful town looking down on the Clitunno River named Montefalco. It attracts tourists with its wildlife, wineries, and vineyards, and stunning churches. One of the most beautiful churches with its vaulted, painted ceilings, marble pillars, and inspiring altars is the Basilica of St. Clare of…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Lawrence

By CAROLE BRESLIN Valencia, claim its inhabitants, is the premier city in all of Spain. Located along Spain’s eastern Mediterranean coastline, it boasts stunning beaches, ancient history, and magnificent churches. Perhaps the most famous is the Valencian Cathedral, the Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption, which holds a chalice which has been defended as the relic of the true…Continue Reading