Last year, Sister Sara Butler was nice enough to walk me through limbo. So to speak.
Butler, who teaches at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, is a member of the Vatican’s International Theological Commission, which studies heavy duty questions at the request of the pope.
I talked to Butler because the commission was known to be looking at the thorny and age-old question of what happens to the souls of infants who die before baptism. Since the Middle Ages, the Catholic answer has been limbo Ã¢â‚¬â€ a happy place, but not heaven. And separate from God.
At the time, Butler told me:
“Generally speaking, people everywhere believe that God in his mercy will certainly find a way to bring these children to heaven But it’s not possible to simply say that. The pope can’t just announce the abolition of limbo. We have to study closely all the implications and then say clearly what this means.”
On April 20, the commission finally released its report: The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptized.
I’ve been hoping to speak with Butler again, but simply haven’t found the time (hey, there’s a lot going on). But Inside the Vatican magazine has just published an “interview”:http://www.insidethevatican.com/newsflash/2007/newsflash-apr27-07.htm with her, so I’ll include some highlights here:
Inside the Vatican: Sister Butler, your commissionÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s latest document about limbo has sparked a lot of controversy. In essence, what is the International Theological Commission trying to say in its document about the fate of unbaptized infants?
Sister Sara Butler: The commission is trying to say what the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 1260, 1261, 1283) has already said: that we have a right to hope that God will find a way to offer the grace of Christ to infants who have no opportunity for making a personal choice with regard to their salvation. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s trying to provide a theological rationale for what has already been proposed in several magisterial documents since the Council. Continue reading