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Unbaptized Infants Depart into the Eternal Fires upon Death

March 25, 2015

Private Epistle #7

The Catholic Church has unequivocally taught that baptism is necessary for salvation from hell, remits original sin, and is the gateway into the Catholic Church.  Any who recede from these dogmas are therefore anathema:

“Canon 5. If anyone says that baptism is optional, that is, not necessary for salvation, let him be anathema.” (Council of Trent, Decree on Baptism, ex cathedra, 1563)

Holy baptism, which is the gateway to the spiritual life, holds the first place among all the sacraments; through it we are made members of Christ and of the body of the Church. And since death entered the universe through the first man, ‘unless we are born again of water and the Spirit, we cannot,’ as the Truth says, ‘enter into the kingdom of heaven’ [John 3:5]. The matter of this sacrament is real and natural water.” (Council of Florence, Cantate Domino, Ex Cathedra, 1442 A.D.)

Some have taught that unbaptized infants go to a place called limbo, and that they do not depart into the eternal fires.  This is clearly false.  It has been defined dogmatically that unbaptized infants who have died go to the eternal fires.  The Church has taught that none of those outside the Church can be saved, but will depart into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:

The Catholic Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that all those who are outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans but also Jews or heretics and schismatics, cannot share in eternal life and will go into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels

The Council of Lyons taught infallibly that infants with original sin only depart into hell, but to be punished with a disparate punishment:

The souls of those who die in mortal sin or with original sin only immediately descend into hell to be PUNISHED, however, with disparate punishments.

Thus the souls and resurrected bodies of the unbaptized infants descend into the fires of hell to be actively punished.

Some have tried to teach that Pope Pius VI’s condemnation in Auctorem Fidei proves that infants do not suffer the pains of fire.  But this is not the case.  When the Church condemns a compound statement, it condemns the statement, in its entirety, as being false.  But if a statement contains multiple premises, it is often difficult to determine which premise or premises is making the statement false.  Remember- it only takes one false premise to make a statement consisting of many premises to be false.  All we can say, with the Church, is that the entire statement is false.  The statement in Auctorem Fidei that the defenders of “limbo” often use is a very complex, compound statement.  

We will show you that it is not the idea that infants suffer in fire that is being condemned, but only the following idea-  the speculations (even if possibly false) of the scholastics regarding guilty infants not suffering directly from the fire of hell is the same as the doctrine of the Pelagians about a place infants go where there is no guilt.  Pius VI is teaching that to equate the doctrine of the scholastics with the Pelagians is offensive and false.  This does not make the doctrine of the scholastics certainly true, however.  It is still permissible to hold that the fires themselves do inflict pains on infants.  Indeed, this would be the more natural conclusion since it is dogmatically defined that unbaptized and all outside the Church go into the fires.  Why would you go into the fires if they do not inflict the pain of sense?

Pius VI wrote:

“The doctrine which rejects as a Pelagian fable, that place of the lower regions (which the faithful generally designate by the name of the limbo of children) in which the souls of those departing with the sole guilt of original sin are punished with the punishment of the condemned, exclusive of the punishment of fire, just as if, by this very fact, that these who remove the punishment of fire introduced that middle place and state free of guilt and of punishment between the kingdom of God and eternal damnation, such as that about which the Pelagians idly talk,—false, rash, injurious to Catholic schools.” (Auctorem Fidei)

Pius VI is declaring that, unlike the Pelagians, the scholastics were not trying to introduce a place free of guilt.  This is obvious, because the scholastics admitted that even infants carried the guilt of original sin.  Thus, Pius VI is teaching that to equate the prevalent scholastic doctrine of his day with the Pelagian doctrine in this regard is a slander and is false.

Pius VI is not declaring that the Augustinian tradition of believing the fires inflict pain on the infants is false.  That opinion is still clearly permissible, even after his declaration in Auctorem Fidei.  

It is de fide that the infants depart into the fires, however it is not de fide that the fires they depart into actively inflict pain upon them.  Punishment is certainly inflicted upon them in some fashion while they are “in” the fires.  However, the notion that the fire is indeed inflicting the pain seems the more obvious and logical conclusion, even if it is not dogmatic.  Otherwise it would be superfluous to cast the infants into the fires.

Even an opinion as extreme as that expressed by the commentator T Sparks is a permissible Catholic belief, and violates no dogma, where he states:

"Thus it will be of no great surprise to learn that damned infants are engulfed in the fires of eternity. Countless billions of infants depart without baptism and are cast screaming into the furnace."

Would this make God unjust?  By no means.  Though it is a mystery why certain infants are permitted to die, what is certain is that God desires all men to be saved and to to come to the knowledge of the truth.  Thus, it is probable that God, knowing the end from the beginning, and knowing the amount of grace He determined to provide the infant if he lived to the age of reason, knew that if a particular infant were to live beyond his infancy, the infant would only sin continuously and increase the severity of his own damnation, thus making his end worse than if he died as an infant.  Therefore, God sends them to death in infancy, to prevent this from occurring.