I was a bit busy this weekend when the Vatican announced they were doing away with limbo so let’s take a looksie at what that actually means:

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In its recent document on unbaptized children, the Vatican’s International Theological Commission demonstrated how church teaching can be responsive to changes in theological thought, Christian beliefs and the “signs of the times.”

The document, published April 20, critiqued the traditional understanding of limbo, arguing instead that there was good reason to hope unbaptized babies who die go to heaven.

Some people saw that as a reversal of a centuries-old Catholic principle. But rather than announcing a radical break with the past, the commission said it was assessing an issue in theological evolution.

It’s interesting the way they phrased it. They hope that unbaptized babies will go to heaven? That mean’s there’s a chance that they could end up burning in eternity.

I’ve always considered the idea of baptizing babies to be one of the more idiotic religious rituals. The idea that a baby would be punished for eternity because it died before a priest could douse it’s head with water to purify them from some sin committed by somebody else thousands of years ago is so idiotic that somebody from child welfare should assume custody from the parents before the priest is done asking the godparents if they reject satan. I have nothing against somebody who chooses to be baptized as an adult. It’s certainly not for me but at least they are making a decision. Babies don’t get a choice so it’s just a forced catholic recruitment process. In the past Catholics have even used baptism as a reason to kidnap non-christian children who were secretly baptized by non-relatives. The case of Edgardo Mortara is a famous instance where this has happened:

On the evening of 23 June 1858, in the northern Italian city of Bologna, police of the Papal States, of which Bologna was then part, arrived at the home of a Jewish couple, Salomone (“Momolo”) and Marianna Padovani Mortara, to seize one of their eight children, six-year-old Edgardo, and transport him to Rome to be raised by the Catholic Church.

The police had orders from the authorities in Rome, authorised by Pope Pius IX. Church officials had been told that a Catholic servant girl of the Mortaras, Anna Morisi, had baptized Edgardo while he was ill because she feared that he would otherwise die and go to Hell. Under the law of the Papal States, Edgardo’s baptism, even if illegal, was valid, and made him a Christian.