“How low can you go?” is the refrain, in Chubby Checker’s Limbo Rock. Back-wrenching rituals aside, the Catholic concept of limbo has come on some hard times. A wholly man-made creation, the Roman church has nonetheless denied comfort and burial in consecrated ground to countless generations of unbaptized infants who die without the benefits of a Catholic baptism.
What is truly vile about this practice? It that placed tradition, wholly man-made, not mentioned in Scripture, as what the laity could expect from their church. And it did so in the worst kind of top-down, hierarchical fashion. Cardinals, bishops, and priests in charge. The rest of you unwashed, just pray, pay, and obey.
It looks as if the Catholic Church has now seen, to a limited extent, the error of establishing limbo. Looks like Benedict XVI is going to allow the concept of limbo to recede into limbo. From a Washington Post article:
The Vatican commission stressed that there is no mention of limbo in the Bible and that it was never a part of church dogma. Nor, by the way, is the commission’s own advisory opinion. But there is little doubt that Pope Benedict XVI agrees with its conclusion. In a 1985 book-length interview, “The Ratzinger Report,” then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said limbo was “never a defined truth of faith,” and “personally . . . I would abandon it, since it was only a theological hypothesis.”
Indeed. “Only a theological hypothesis.” As is, of course, the notion that baptism qua baptism has saving power. Without the baptism of a believer enabled by the Holy Spirit, baptism is just a bath. Or sprinkle; method isn’t important. God knows what’s in the believer’s heart.
But then, I’m a Baptist, and you know how confused we can be…