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If Baptism is necessary for salvation can an aborted baby who dies without Baptism be saved?
We will examine this theme with the light of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. We will begin with the help of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in order to better understand what the sacrament of Baptism is. Paragraph 1213 of the CCC explains that Holy Baptism is the foundation of the whole Christian life. Through Baptism we are liberated from sin and we are regenerated as children of God. We become members of Christ and we are incorporated to His Church and we are made partakers with His Mission. Through Baptism we enter into the Family of God as his adopted children and we are cleansed from original sin which is due to our first parents Adam and Eve. Paragraph 1213 states:
Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), and the door which gives access to the other Sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: “Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word.”
But how can God deny an aborted baby who has no fault of his own and who had no opportunity of being Baptized access to the Beatific Vision?
We will examine this theme and the theological opinions that have been very common. The common historical perspective has been that children who die without being Baptized go to Limbo. This theological opinion which has been elaborated and held by many theologians leading up to the Medieval Ages, has been understood as a state in which the souls of those unbaptized children who do not merit the gift of the Beatific Vision, due to the stains of original sin, but who neither merit the just punishments of Hell, as they have not committed actual sin go. The theological opinion of Limbo has never been solemnly defined by the Magisterium, although that same Magisterium has mentioned it in its common teachings, leading up to the Second Vatican Council. The following theological opinions regarding the baptism of infants should be taken into account:
- God counts the desire of the Church to Baptize these unbaptized infants as a legitimate desire of Baptism. An example of what a desire of baptism is, is found in paragraph 1259 of the CCC. It states in regards to the Catechumens who die before they are Sacramentally Baptized, that their explicit desire for Baptism united with their sorrow for their sins and united with Charity, that they can have a great assurance in their Salvation which would have been impossible without the Sacrament.
- God could in principle permit such child in a mysterious way to be moved to desire such Baptism in any specific way. He could in turn move such child to either an acceptance or rejection of Christ.
Is an aborted child a martyr?
In the case of the aborted babies it is possible to say that through their suffering they could obtain Baptism through what is known as Baptism of Blood. But this poses a problematic aspect. In paragraph 1258 of the Catechism it states that “The Church has always held the firm conviction that those who suffer death for the sake of the faith without having received Baptism are baptized by their death for and with Christ. This Baptism of blood, like the desire for Baptism, brings about the fruits of Baptism without being a sacrament.” Based on what the Church teaches regarding Baptism of Blood, the fact that an expectant mother has encountered an inconvenience with her unborn baby and decides to abort it; this does not signify that such baby has died for the Christian Faith or for Christ. In the end in regards to abortion, the baby is not necessarily accepting being martyred for Christ.
But what about the feast of the Holy Innocents?
In the case of the murder of the Holy Innocents there was a great attempt at killing Jesus Christ. We could then say that those children died as a result of dying for Christ, furthermore we could presumably argue that no such parents of the Holy Innocents were trying to abort their children. Rather these children were martyred against their will and their parents will as well. We then have a feast and liturgical ceremony for the Holy Innocents (December 28) and we are assured that they are in Heaven.
In the end we have various speculations and opinions in this theological area which he have just mentioned. Up to this moment the Church does not have a specific position regarding the state of the souls of the unbaptized infants, and furthermore on the state of aborted children in general. However we know that these babies are handed over to a just God who is at the same time merciful and we can hope for their salvation.
THE HOPE OF SALVATION FOR INFANTS
WHO DIE WITHOUT BEING BAPTISED