Vatican considering abolishing limbo

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Friday, October 6, 2006

Pope Benedict XVI

Consideration is being given to dropping the notion of limbo, where souls of babies who die before baptism remain, from the body of Catholic belief. What the present Pope has called "only a theological hypothesis" and "not a definitive truth of the faith" has been the subject of study by theologians for many years.

The word comes from the Latin word "limbus", meaning the edge. Limbo is a state of existence where unbaptised babies would not experience pain.

Reports say that the Vatican will defer a decision on the issue for a year.

"A papal decree reversing the firm Catholic belief of two millennia that infants dying unbaptised do not go to heaven would be like an earthquake in the structure of Catholic theology and belief," said Fr. Brian Harrison, a theologian.

A draft document drawn up for the Pope's approval declaring that limbo was no longer essential or even necessary has not been final. It will be presented to the pontiff in 2007.

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