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Jack wrote:

Hi, guys —

My brother's baby was stillborn during the eight months of his wife's pregnancy. The baby was buried in the grave of our mother who had died many years before.

  • What happens to the soul of their baby girl who never had a chance at live?

We use to say these babies went to a place called Limbo where they were perfectly happy.
We don't hear about Limbo any more in the Catholic Church or whether it even ever existed.

  • What is the Church's teaching what happens to the souls of stillborn babies?

Jack

  { What is the Church's teaching what happens to the souls of stillborn babies? }

Mary Ann replied:

Jack —

The Church teaches that we can trust God's merciful love of these children. Blessed John Paul II said that they are living with the Lord. They are not condemned.

Limbo was never an official doctrine; it was more a common opinion held out of respect for the necessity of Baptism as the normal means of salvation. If, as St. Paul says in his epistles, pagans who follow the natural law and natural revelation can be saved, then of course the innocent can be saved.

It is important for family members to dedicate and surrender their child to God. Having a Mass said is a wonderful Memorial.

Mary Ann

Paul replied:

Jack,

The simple answer is that we just don't know. Limbo was a theological opinion that gained favor in recent history before it went out of favor. It was a way of explaining where unbaptized babies went who were personally innocent of actual sin, but share in the punishment of original sin.

The teaching on Limbo, however, never gained the status of being Church doctrine. As far as we know, God has not revealed this information to us, as to what happens to stillborn, unbaptized babies. It is fashionable today among many theologians to conjure up feasible reasons why unbaptized babies go to Heaven.

Even Blessed John Paul II mentioned that they are with the Lord, but didn't define what exactly that means. So we hope in God's mercy, while understanding His justice, until a defined doctrine is defined by the Magisterium on the subject. We hope there is no logical contradiction in sanctifying and saving an unbaptized person under the age of reason.

Paul

Mike replied:

Hi, Jack —

I just wanted to add one comment to what my colleagues have said.

Although limbo never gained the status of being Church doctrine, the Early Church Fathers,
in their private theological opinions, did refer to the "Limbo of the Fathers".

This is where the saints of the Old Testament went, along with the babies you mentioned, before Our Blessed Lord opened the gates of Heaven at His Resurrection.

Just a historical note.

Mike

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