Reading the Liturgy of the Hours this morning it reminded me of what the International Theological Commission said in their document this year "The Hope of salvation for infants who die without being baptised."
5. Secondly, taking account of the principle lex orandi lex credendi, the Christian community notes that there is no mention of Limbo in the liturgy. In fact, the liturgy contains a feast of the Holy Innocents, who are venerated as martyrs, even though they were not baptised, because they were killed on account of Christ. There has even been an important liturgical development through the introduction of funerals for infants who died without Baptism. We do not pray for those who are damned. The Roman Missal of 1970 introduced a Funeral Mass for unbaptised infants whose parents intended to present them for Baptism. The Church entrusts to Gods mercy those infants who die unbaptised. In its 1980 Instruction on Childrens Baptism, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reaffirmed that: with regard to children who die without having received Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as indeed she does in the funeral rite established for them. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992) adds that: the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved [1Tim 2:4], and Jesus tenderness toward children which caused him to say: Let the children come to me, do not hinder them (Mk 10:14), allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism
It must be very consoling for those who have lost babies in that manner..
No offense intended, and I do not intend to deny the possibility of God performing a miracle and saving an infant (for that is what it would be), but this passage is very misleading.
The funeral for infants without baptism is actually intended primarily for the consolation of the family, unlike a normal funeral Mass and requires special permission from the bishop.
Again, the Holy Innocents were not only martyrs who, as the Roman Rite says “died to give praise to the Lord” but they lived prior to our Lord mandating baptism.
Yes, for what its worth, I really appreciated the intention of the authors of that document on Limbo, but I thought it was poorly argued.
The following line is almost insincere:
“We don’t pray for those who are damned.” The implication is that in a funeral liturgy for infants who died without baptism, we do pray for these little ones – hence they must not be damned. But the fact is that we only pray for the souls in purgatory, and these unbaptized souls certainly cannot be there (no personal sin) – so we don’t pray for them either.
Fr. William Most wrote a far better theological article concerning the salvation of infants who die without baptism. It can be found here:
On a related point– can I make a plea here for pastors to kindly, but firmly, start hounding parents to baptize their babies promptly. Canon Law calls for parents to have babies baptized “within the first few weeks.”
Yet people seem to routinely put it off for months and months for trivial reasons, frequently having to do with planning a big party. I’m all for big baptism parties– indeed it should be celebrated– but not at the expense of postponing the biggest day of that tiny baby’s life. I used to teach baptism prep, and the ludicrous reasons people gave for waiting a few more months were unbelievable. The kicker was the family that wanted to wait until May (this was a conversation in January about a baby born in November) “so the weather would be nicer for photographs.”
That paragraph is really asinine. You don’t justify theological innovations by appealing to liturgical innovations.
That having been said, it is interesting to note that Eastern Catholic liturgies, to my knowledge, have always permitted funerals for the unbaptized children of Christian parents.
Hey guys, I’m a new convert,
My older brother died one day after birth, not baptized, parents not Catholic, what should I know about where he is and what my relationship to his is and will be. Thanks,
Re the fate of unbaptised infants and the preborn who are aborted there are two translations of paragraph 99 of Evengelium Vitae in addition to the Latin official version on the Vatican website.
Quod si necdum fecistis, cor vestrum humili ac fidenti ratione ad
compunctionem aperite: misericordiarum Pater vos exspectat ut veniam vobis
offerat et pacem in Sacramento Reconciliationis. Infantem autem vestrum
potestis Eidem Patri Eiusque misericordiae cum spe committere. Consilio,
amicorum peritorumque affectu suffultae, poteritis vestro difficili
testimonio inter eloquentiores iuris omnium ad vitam propugnatores
English version of the Latin
..The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To the same Father and his mercy you can with sure hope entrust your child. With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone’s right to life.
Incorrect version of the Latin which is all over the Internet e.g. Rachels Vineyard and in every foreign language translation I have looked at.
The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
. You will come to understand that nothing is definitively lost and you will also be able to ask forgiveness from your child, who is now living in the Lord. With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone’s right to life.
These two versions contradict one another and led me to question every document I have read on the Vatican website.
A lot of times, the English version is translated off the wrong version — a preliminary version of the letter, done in Italian, for instance. Most of the other languages are good about making corrections, but the English language versions always come in late, and are often inaccurate.
However, things are getting better. It’s just on Italian time.
We knew from a 22 week ultrasound that our daughter was going to die, and when I reached two weeks post-due-date and hadn’t delivered, we scheduled an induction, so I called my church to schedule the baby’s funeral.
The priest *cancelled the funeral* and told me that the Catholic church forbids funerals for infants. Which I knew was a whole lot of bullpuckey, but that priest had issues. We fought and fought and eventually, armed to the teeth with canon law and the rite of funerals and all that good stuff, including two priests willing to fly up to do the funeral Mass, we got what we wanted. But if that had been my only contact with the Catholic Church to that point, I’d have declared the entire institution a bunch of hypocrites and become Orthodox.
Yes, I did inform the diocese. They did nothing. This was in 2000. They should have known better.
We did get our daughter baptised–we did it ourselves immediately after birth–and the hospital chaplain confirmed her. Our parish priest wouldn’t even come to the hospital.
I hear frequently from families that have the full support of their parish priest when they lose a baby, and I have to say, I’m a little envious because we could have used that support, and instead our parish did everything in its power to deny it to us.
speaking of language issues,
I was in a parish that did a song that had verses in various languages. The English verse was the usual feely good fluff. My French is pretty lame but I knew enough to recognize that the French verse was full of scriptural passages from Saint Paul and Our Lord. I wondered what sort of profound and uplifting stuff was in the other non-english verses.
Maybe it’s not that Latin is the only way to go but english is the only way NOT to go.
I can only say that you are a very strong, faithful woman. Your experience is unconscionable. I lost a child in utero at 36 weeks. I was devastated. If I had met with the nefarious behavior of a priest that you were subjected to, I would have had a breakdown. There is much more abuse in the church than the sexual exploitation of minors. One can only pity such a priest. He will be a priest forever…even in Hell.
I am so sorry to hear of the uncharitable behavior of your priest and parish, Jane. God bless you for hanging in there and not allowing the sins of individuals keep you from Christ and the pracetice of your Faith.