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To a grieving family, it is certainly understandable that Limbo would be a difficult concept to consider. BUT, keep in mind that, as things stand now, those persons would be entirely within bounds as Catholics to ignore Limbo and instead rely simply on their faith in Divine Mercy.

1) Doctrine vs. Dogma

“Limbo is not a defined dogma. It is a theological speculation, and good Catholics may believe or not believe in it as the arguments move them. But if the Church were to define formally the existence or non-existence of limbo, everyone would be obliged in conscience to fall in line.”

These are the words of apologist Karl Keating, who explained it more succinctly than I could have in his “Pop Quiz” on Catholicism:


2) Other Catholic teachings to consider:

"God has bound salvation to the Sacrament of Baptism, but He Himself is not bound by His sacraments" (Catechism of the Catholic Church n. 1257). i.e. God can make whatever exceptions He wishes regarding unbaptized infants.

2) Conforming to the World

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2)

It is interesting to place Catholicism in some sort of mental global marketplace of religion, and to posit that the Church would abandon her divine teaching authority in order to cater to those “shopping” for a religion. To consider this possibility, one would need to mentally step outside of trusting that the Church takes seriously her role as teaching authority.

If a more essential, required teaching were reversed or abandoned due to lack of popularity, then I agree with you. Non-Catholics might be slightly more interested in the religion. And many Catholics would likely be disappointed and possibly fall away. Not to protest the loss of a teaching, but because the Church would be lax in her role as teaching authority and, thus, no longer trustworthy.

However, this is all a side note since, regarding Limbo, we are dealing with a case of a theological construct, not dogma. Since positive belief in Limbo is not a requirement for being Catholic, it should be no obstacle for persons in Africa or any other continent who are seeking to become Catholic.

Besides, if the Church were seeking to toss out unpalatable theology in order to cater to the wishes of the masses, I would expect to see the teachings regarding marital contraception to be jettisoned first.


Thanks so much for this very well-thought response! It is certainly an education for me.

You make a very strong case that Limbo should not be an obstacle to believers (whether current or prospective).

However, I wonder: how many people with less understanding - including people who cannot read - in developing nations, for example, would be able to get to such an insightful point? It seems that many people around the world DO believe it is dogma.

Perhaps the Church will work harder to clarify the position and better communicate it around the world. I'm glad to do my share by hosting your insightful comment for all to Google!

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