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Ryan Todd wrote:

Hi, guys —

My friend's sister recently lost a baby.

The mother of the child was raised Catholic and the father is an Atheist. As such, the father refused to allow Baptism. The child died, and as it died, my friend brought his holy water and baptized the child shortly after it passed.

His wife essentially mocked her grieving sister-on-law telling her, it's too late, your baby is going to Limbo, you should have baptized her.

My question is threefold.

  1. Is the child going to Limbo?
  2. Is their not a duty, as a good Christian, to comfort the grieving?
  3. How can someone claim to be a good Christian and stand their, mocking a woman screaming in sorrow, and telling her that her child is doomed to eternal nothingness?

Ryan Todd

  { Seeing my friend's sister lost a baby and the baby hadn't been baptized, where did the baby go? }

Mike replied:

Dear Ryan,

Thanks for sharing with us your sad situation.

I'm assuming that the mother of the infant would have wanted her new baby baptized but she was not allowed to do so by her husband. Whether this is the case, or not, the mother and your friend should take comfort in these words from the Catechism:

1261 As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus' tenderness toward children which caused him to say:

"Let the children come to me, do not hinder them . . ."
(Mark 10:14; cf. 1 Timothy 2:4)

allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church's call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.

In addition, an important, key Catechism concept to remember is:

CCC 1257 God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.

You said:
The child died, and as it died, my friend brought his holy water and baptized the child shortly after it passed.

If the infant was baptized before [he/she] had passed — actual death occurring at a time none of us may not medically know — they died a Christian.

If the infant was baptized after [he/she] had passed, without stating anything official from the Church, my personal opinion is the Lord would more than welcome and accept the intention your friend had to baptize the infant, even though the infant had already died.


You said:

  1. Is the child going to Limbo?

The Church has never officially taught that there is a place called Limbo. The saints speculated that unbaptized babies went there during the Middle Ages but it was only considered a theological opinion, not a doctrine of the Church. The only other time Limbo had been earlier brought up was as a theological opinion by the Early Church Fathers. It was their belief that those who died under the Old Covenant, in the grace of God, when to a place they referred to this as the Limbo of the Just.

You said:

  1. Is their not a duty, as a good Christian, to comfort the grieving?
  2. How can someone claim to be a good Christian and stand their, mocking a woman screaming in sorrow, and telling her that her child is doomed to eternal nothingness?

Yes, it is most definitely her duty!
Pray that she matures in meeting the pastoral needs of her close family members.

I hope this helps,

Mike

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