Amy asked about this part of the interview:
It was once very moving to hear the assembly sing the Te Deum, the Magnificat, the litanies, music that the people had assimilated and made their own – but today very little is left even of this. And furthermore, Gregorian chant has been distorted by the rhythmic and aesthetic theories of the Benedictines of Solesmes. Gregorian chant was born in violent times, and it should be manly and strong, and not like the sweet and comforting adaptations of our own day.
Based on my own experience with chant in various parish churches and monasteries, as well as some study of the history and artistic performance, I'll make a couple of comments.
1. "Gregorian Chant" (TM) can be a subject of endless debates, just like liturgical translation or any other liturgical music, because it depends on several factors: (a) living tradition; (b) historical evidence; (c) ecclesial authority; (d) the actual folks doing it right here and now.
2. Solesmes got the Vatican seal of approval, but there was a lot of debate about what they put out. And it continues. I recommend the book "Decadent Enchantments: The Revival of Gregorian Chant at Solesmes", by Katherine Bergeron (U. Califorinia Press, 1998) if anybody wants to read some of the history from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. For example, these events from 1905:
It was this problem of legitimacy that ultimately brought the work of the commission to a standstill, the proponents of "living tradition" facing off uncomfortably with the Solesmes archaeologists throughout the months of February and March. To resolve the conflict, Pothier finally resorted to a higher authority. By the beginning of April 1905 he had heard from the pope's secretary of state, Cardinal Merry del Val, who wrote: "His Holiness has charged me with declaring to your Most Reverend Paternity that, when He decided to return to the ancient Gregorian chant, He did not intend to make a work so exclusively favoring the archaeology of this chant that we could not admit today certain Gregorian melodies that have come down over the course of centuries." The letter went on to assert that "it would not be contrary to the intentions of His Holiness that the Pontifical Commission for the Vatican Edition of the liturgical books give preference to certain less ancient compositions, provided that they truly have the character of Gregorian music."
The traditionalists had suddenly gained considerable ground. Still, the judgment was not forceful enough to convince the Solesmes editors themselves, who continued sending polemical missives to Rome in defense of their own work. According to Combe, by the end of June they had drawn up, with the support of de Santi and others, something of a manifesto to place before Pius X, in the hopes of reversing the actions of the Pontifical Commission. The document's central paragraph asserted, once again, the unimpeachability of the Solesmes scholarship, whose scientific methods exceeded even the limits of canonical authority. The authors cheekily pointed out that the pope himself could not have imagined such results:
Because the School of Solesmes offers us such an ensemble of guarantees, and because the difficulties raised by their opponents have no solid foundation, lacking all basis in science, we, the undersigned, declare ourselves ready to support the authors of a work undertaken for the honor of the Church, a work that until now has not only justified but surpassed the Holy Father's highest hopes.
The manifesto did no good. Within days, a second letter addressed to Pothier from Merry del Val brought the dispute to a decisive end. It announced a change of plan—a "simplification," the text stated euphemistically, "in the work of the editors." The new Vatican edition would be based on the Benedictine gradual published at Solesmes in 1895, a book that represented, as everyone knew, the work of Pothier, containing the so-called living tradition that he knew by heart, and that Mocquereau had labored to correct by hand. But the cardinal's letter announced that, from this point on, it would be Pothier alone who took charge of any corrections to the melodies, using, as he saw fit, the "paleographic studies pursued under the wise direction of the most Reverend Abbot of Solesmes." An additional clause put these exalted studies in their proper place, stating that "the Holy Father [would] take under His supreme authority and protection the special edition of the liturgical books that He called Typical, otherwise leaving the field free for the studies of learned Gregorianists." The Vatican did not prohibit scientific research with this ruling. It simply relegated such research to an undesignated "free field," as if condemning the monks to the very site on which Mocquereau, and later his entire school, had first staked their scholarly claims—the world of the staffless Saint-Gall neumes, whose signs floated freely, as they say, in campo aperto .
It was not exactly Siberia, but it was a punishment nonetheless. The Solesmes monks were, with this decision, indirectly censured for their extremist position regarding the Church's musical traditions. In this respect, the conflict surrounding the Vatican edition—and the pope's reaction to it—would seem to anticipate another, more serious conflict that visited Pius X during the same decade, the crisis involving what, in Catholic circles, was tellingly known as modernism. The term referred to the teachings of certain Catholic intellectuals around the turn of the century, scholars who sought to update traditional theology through historical discipline.
In this heated debate in the early 20th century, Mocquereau and the monks of Solesmes were the "modernists" working with manuscripts and historiography and philologies and all manner of modern "scientific" approaches in an attempt to reconstruct the "authentic" Gregorian traditions. On the other side were Pothier and "traditionalists" who supported a living tradition of liturgical singing.
I would put Bartolucdi in the "traditionalist" camp, among those who favor the (simpler) living tradition of chant over the more elaborate, "modernist," "scientific" approach developed in the restoration at Solesmes.
I imagine that some people have trouble thinking of "Solesmes" as the "modernists" opposed to the "traditionalist," but that is the case in this debate. The terms are derived from the aproach and methods used in determining and evaluating chant (actual living chanting and listening, as opposed to more "scientific" methods based on manuscripts and philosophical systems and approaches).
3. The elaborate Gregorian Chant of Solesmes provides a contrast to the Plainchant or Plainsong tradition in much of the Church, Eastern and Western, throughout the centuries.
In conclusion, I think Bartolucci's point is that what we need to restore is the "manly," earthy, simpler chant from the heart, from the soul of regular folks raising their voices to God, rather than the often very elaborate, very challenging, very technical sort of chant scientifically reconstructed at Solesmes.
And that is an idea with which I agree!
Saturday, May 05, 2007
From Old Zhou:
I Had a Dream: The Music of Palestrina and Gregory the Great Had Come Back
An exclusive interview with maestro Domenico Bartolucci. Who strangled Gregorian chant and polyphony – and why. And how to bring them back to life. Benedict XVI? “A Napoleon without generals”
by Sandro Magister
ROMA, July 21, 2006 – The concert conducted in the Sistine Chapel at the end of June by maestro Domenico Bartolucci, in Benedict XVI’s honor and with his attendance, has certainly marked a turning point in the dispute over the role that music has, and will have, in the Catholic liturgy.
But for now, it is a merely symbolic turning point.
The new direction has been indicated with authority. “An authentic renewal of sacred music can only come follow in the pathway of the great tradition of the past, of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony,” Benedict XVI said on that occasion. This is a pope whose “great love for the liturgy, and thus for sacred music, is known to all,” Bartolucci emphasized in his greeting of introduction.
But the goal still seems a long way off. Bartolucci, in his nineties, is a first-rate witness to the misfortunes that have plagued sacred music over the past half century. An outstanding interpreter of Gregorian chant and of the polyphony of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, he is at the same time the victim of their near annihilation.
When the curia of John Paul II planned and carried out the dismissal of Bartolucci as director of the papal choir of the Sistine Chapel, only Joseph Ratzinger, then a cardinal, was on his side.
Now, with the election of Ratzinger as pope, there is a real chance that the course of this drama will be reversed, and that Gregorian chant and polyphony will be returned to their central place in the Church. But neither Benedict XVI nor Bartolucci are so naïve as not to perceive the extreme difficulty of this undertaking.
For the Church to draw once more from the treasury of its great sacred music, there is, in fact, the need for a formidable effort of reeducation, and for liturgical reeducation even before musical.
This is what Bartolucci makes clear in his interview with “L’espresso” no. 29, 2006, reproduced in its entirety below.
In it he says, among other things:
“I am an optimist by nature, but I judge the current situation realistically, and I believe that a Napoleon without generals can do little.”
That Benedict XVI is, in this field, a “Napoleon without generals” was seen, for example in the vigil and Mass he presided over and celebrated in Valencia last July 8-9, organized by the Pontifical Council for the Family and by the Spanish bishops’ conference.
The vigil slavishly followed the canons of the television shows, with presenters, guests, comics, singers, and dancers.
And the songs at the Mass reproduced the “popular” style that invaded during the pontificate of John Paul II: a style unceremoniously described and assessed by Bartolucci in the interview that follows.
Here, then, is the barnburner interview, conducted and transcribed by the expert in classical music for the weekly “L’espresso,” Riccardo Lenzi:
When the cantor was like a priest
An interview with Domenico Bartolucci
Q: Maestro Bartolucci, no fewer than six popes have attended your concerts. In which of them did you see the most musical expertise?
A: In the most recent one, Benedict XVI. He plays the piano, has a profound understanding of Mozart, loves the Church’s liturgy, and in consequence he places great emphasis on music. Pius XII also greatly loved music, and played the violin frequently. The Sistine Chapel owes a great deal to John XXIII. In 1959 he gave me permission to restore the Sistine which, unfortunately, was in bad shape, partly because of the illness of its previous director, Lorenzo Perosi. It no longer had a stable membership, a musical archive, or an office. So an office was obtained, the falsettos were dismissed, and the composition of the choir and the compensation for its members were determined, and finally it was possible to form the children’s choir as well. Then came Paul VI, but he was tone deaf, and I don’t know how much of an appreciation he had for music.
Q: Was Perosi the so-called restorer of the Italian oratorio?
A: Perosi was an authentic musician, a man utterly consumed by music. He had the good fortune of directing the Sistine at the time of the motu proprio on sacred music, which rightly wanted to purify it from the theatrics with which it was imbued. He could have given a new impulse to Church music, but unfortunately he didn’t have an adequate understanding of polyphony in the tradition of Palestrina and of the traditions of the Sistine. He also entrusted the direction of the Gregorian chant to his vice-maestro! His liturgical compositions were frequently noteworthy for their superficial Cecilian style, far from the perfect fusion of text and music.
Q: Perosi imitated Puccini...
A: But Puccini was an intelligent man. And his fugues are greatly superior to those of Perosi.
Q: Was Perosi in some sense the harbinger of the current vulgarization of sacred music?
A: Not exactly. Today the fashion in the churches is for pop-inspired songs and the strumming of guitars, but the fault lies above all with the pseudo-intellectuals who have engineered this degeneration of the liturgy, and thus of music, overthrowing and despising the heritage of the past with the idea of obtaining who knows what advantage for the people. If the art of music does not return to its greatness, rather than representing an accommodation or a byproduct, there is no sense in asking about its function in the Church. I am against guitars, but I am also against the superficiality of the Cecilian movement in music – it’s more or less the same thing. Our motto must be: let us return to Gregorian chant and to polyphony in the tradition of Palestrina, and let us continue down this road!
Q: What are the initiatives that Benedict XVI should take to realize this plan in a world of discotheques and iPods?
A: The great repertoire of sacred music that has been handed down to us from the past is made up of Masses, offertories, responsories: formerly there was no such thing as a liturgy without music. Today there is no place for this repertoire in the new liturgy, which is a discordant commotion – and it’s useless to pretend that it’s not. It is as if Michelangelo had been asked to paint the general judgment on a postage stamp! You tell me, please, how it is possible today to perform a Credo, or even a Gloria. First we would need to return, at least for the solemn or feast day Masses, to a liturgy that gives music its proper place and expresses itself in the universal language of the Church, Latin. In the Sistine, after the liturgical reform, I was able to keep alive the traditional repertoire of the Chapel only in the concerts. Just think – the Missa Papae Marcelli by Palestrina has not been sung in St. Peter’s since the time of Pope John XXIII! We were graciously granted the permission to perform it during a commemoration of Palestrina, and they wanted it without the Credo, but that time I would not budge, and the entire work was performed.
Q: Do you think that the assembly of the faithful should participate in singing the Gregorian chant during liturgical celebrations?
A: We must make distinctions in the performance of Gregorian chant. Part of the repertoire, for example the Introits or the Offertories, requires an extremely refined level of artistry and can be interpreted properly only by real artists. Then there is a part of the repertoire that is sung by the people: I think of the Mass “of the Angels,” the processional music, the hymns. It was once very moving to hear the assembly sing the Te Deum, the Magnificat, the litanies, music that the people had assimilated and made their own – but today very little is left even of this. And furthermore, Gregorian chant has been distorted by the rhythmic and aesthetic theories of the Benedictines of Solesmes. Gregorian chant was born in violent times, and it should be manly and strong, and not like the sweet and comforting adaptations of our own day.
Q: Do you think that the musical traditions of the past are disappearing?
A: It stands to reason: if there is not the continuity that keeps them alive, they are destined to oblivion, and the current liturgy certainly does not favor it... I am an optimist by nature, but I judge the current situation realistically, and I believe that a Napoleon without generals can do little. Today the motto is “go to the people, look them in the eyes,” but it’s all a bunch of empty talk! By doing this we end up celebrating ourselves, and the mystery and beauty of God are hidden from us. In reality, we are witnessing the decline of the West. An African bishop once told me, “We hope that the council doesn’t take Latin out of the liturgy, otherwise in my country a Babel of dialects will assert itself.”
Q: Was John Paul II somewhat accommodating in these matters?
A: In spite of a number of appeals, the liturgical crisis became more deeply entrenched during his pontificate. Sometimes it was the papal celebrations themselves that contributed to this new tendency with dancing and drums. Once I left, saying, “Call me back when the show is over!” You understand well that if these are the examples coming from St. Peter’s, appeals and complaints aren’t of any use. I have always objected to these things. And even though they kicked me out, ostensibly because I had turned 80, I don’t regret what I did.
Q: What did it once mean to sing in the Sistine Chapel?
A: The place and the choir formed a unity, just as music and the liturgy formed a unity. Music was not a mere ornament, but it brought the liturgical text to life, and the cantor was something like a priest.
Q: But is it possible, today, to compose in the Gregorian style?
A: For one thing, we would need to recover that spirit of solidity. But the Church has done the opposite, favoring simplistic, pop-inspired melodies that are easy on the ears. It thought this would make people happy, and this is the road it took. But that’s not art. Great art is density.
Q: Don’t you say any composers today who are capable of reviving such a tradition?
A: It’s not a question of aptitude; the atmosphere just isn’t there. The fault is not that of the musicians, but of what is asked of them.
Q: And yet the monks of Santo Domingo de Silos have sold millions of CD’s of Gregorian chant. There’s also the Third Symphony of Henryk Gorecki, with its medieval references...
A: These are consumer phenomena that hold little interest for me.
Q: But there are authoritative composers who have put the faith at center stage, like Pärt or Penderecki...
A: They don’t have a sense of the liturgy. Mozart was also great, but I doubt that his sacred music is very much at its ease in a cathedral. But Gregorian chant and Palestrina match seamlessly with the liturgy.
Q: In effect, Mozart’s letters don’t convey any great religious sentiment. And yet, in the “et incarnatus est” of his Mass in C minor, that soprano phrase from the wind instruments perfectly explains to us the mystery of the incarnation...
A: Don’t forget that Mozart’s father was a Chapel Master. And so, whether he wanted to or not, he breathed deeply of the air of the Church. There is always something very concrete, especially in a man’s childhood, that explains such spiritual depth. Think of Verdi, who as a child had a priest as his first music instructor, and played the organ at Mass.
Q: Do you feel a bit lonely, with no heirs?
A: There’s no one left. I think I’m the last Chapel Master.
Q: But in Leipzig, at the church of Saint Thomas, there is the sixteenth Kantor since the time of Bach...
A: In Germany, in the Protestant arena, the children of the composer of the Brandenburg concerti jealously safeguard their identity. Verdi rightly said that the Germans are the faithful children of Bach, while we Italians are the degenerate children of Palestrina.
Q: Speaking of Verdi, great sacred music isn’t always compatible with the liturgy....
A: Certainly. Verdi’s Requiem Mass cannot be called a Mass suitable for the liturgy, but think of the power with which the meaning of the text comes through! Beethoven, too: listen to the opening of the Credo. It’s entirely different for the Cecilian movement. These are the masterpieces of sacred music that have a rightful place in concert performances.
Q: Bruckner was also very inspired...
A: He has the defect of being longwinded. His Mass for wind instruments, the one in E minor, is rather tedious.
Q: Was Mahler correct in saying that he was “half god and half simpleton”?
A: That’s right. He had some extraordinary moments, such as his masterful treatments of the arch. But then he began to exaggerate, and then...
Q: And do you like Mahler?
A: He’s like Bruckner – some beautiful moments, but rather repetitive. One would like to shout at him at a certain point: knock it off, we get it!
Q: According to Ratzinger, there is music as a mass phenomenon, pop music, which is measured by the values of the market. And then there is the educated, cerebral music that is destined for a small èlite...
A: This is the music of the moderns, from Schönberg on, but sacred music must follow the spirit of Gregorian chant and respect the liturgy. The cantor in the church is not there as an artist, but as a preacher, or as one who preaches by singing.
Q: Do you envy the Eastern Churches at all?
A: They have not changed anything, and rightly so. The Catholic Church has renounced itself and its particular makeup, like those women who have plastic surgery: they become unrecognizable, and sometimes there are serious consequences.
Q: Was it your father who brought you close to music?
A: He was a workman at a brick factory in Borgo San Lorenzo, in the province of Florence. He loved to sing in church. And he loved the romanze of Verdi and Donizetti. But at that time, everybody sang: the farmers while they were dressing the vines, the shoemakers while they were working a sole. There were bands in the piazza, during the holidays music directors came from Florence, and the area theatre had two opera seasons each year. It’s all gone now.
Q: In Italy, the authorities have cut off financing for the orchestras and theatres...
A: They were right to do so. Those organizations have too many people who are just dead weight. Take, for example, the administrative offices: at first there were four or five persons, now there are twenty or twenty-five.
Q: In what sense can Palestrina, Lasso, or Victoria be considered relevant?
A: For their musical density. Palestrina is the founding father who first understood what it means to make music; he intuited the necessity for contrapuntal composition linked to the text, unlike the complexity and the rules of Flemish composition.
Q: For the philosopher Schopenhauer, music is the summit of all the arts, the immediate objectification of the Will. For Catholics, can it be defined as the direct expression of God, as the Word?
A: Music is Art with a capital “A.” Sculpture has marble, and architecture has the edifice. You see music only with the eyes of the spirit; it enters within you. And the Church has the merit of having cultivated it in its cantories, of having given it its grammar and syntax. Music is the soul of the word that becomes art. It most definitely disposes you to discovering and welcoming the beauty of God. For this reason, now more than ever the Church must learn to recover it.
On "Deus Caritas Est" and International Charity
"Faith Liberates Reason From Its Blind Spots"
VATICAN CITY, MAY 5, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of an address from Dominican Father Augustine De Noia, the undersecretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The address was given April 27 as part of the plenary session of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. It focused on "Deus Caritas Est."
* * *
Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences
XIII Plenary Session 27 April 2007,10:30-12:30
CHARITY AND JUSTICE IN THE RELATIONS AMONG PEOPLE AND NATIONS: THE ENCYCLICAL "DEUS CARITAS EST" OF POPE BENEDICT XVI
J. Augustine Di Noia, O.P.
Undersecretary, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
It is an honor and a pleasure for me to address this distinguished pontifical academy at the start of your 13th plenary session, and to bring you the greetings of the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, William J. Levada, who, with Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes and Cardinal Renato Martino, first presented Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical "Deus Caritas Est" to the world at a press conference on Jan. 25, 2006, but who is unable to join you today.
It is a particular pleasure to share the podium with Archbishop Cordes who, as president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, plays a crucial and active role in securing the charity and justice in the relations among people and nations that is your topic in this session of the Pontifical Academy of the Social Sciences.
The focus of your discussion is the Holy Father's short but tightly argued first encyclical, ""Deus Caritas Est"." In its two parts, the encyclical makes two hugely important points. I should like first to state what I think these two points affirm, and then to suggest something of their significance within a social scientific perspective informed by the Catholic faith.
Eros and Agape: The Sanctification of Desire
As everyone who has read the encyclical will know, in his discussion of eros and agape, Pope Benedict insists on the unity of these two forms of love, as well as the continuity between them. He is particularly concerned to refute the widespread notion that the Christian faith separates these two loves, and even suppresses the one -- eros -- in favor of the other -- agape. On the contrary, asserts the encyclical, eros is ever reaching out towards its fulfillment in agape. The powerful dynamism of desire is itself a sign that human persons are made for and directed toward a love that never ends.
In order to clarify this immensely significant first point, allow me to turn for help to one of Pope Benedict's favorite authors, St. Augustine.
In his writings, and especially in his "Confessions," St. Augustine frequently invites his readers to consider the things that they have desired and the things that they desire now -- to consider, in effect, the experience of desire. When we have thought about things that we have desired very badly, and have worked very hard to possess, St. Augustine asks us to acknowledge that, in the end, we have often lost interest and become bored with these very things, and that we then move on to seeking other things.
For St. Augustine, this is most definitely not a cause for lament. On the contrary. In pondering the experience of desire, we learn something very important about ourselves: No good thing that we have wanted and even possessed can finally quench desire itself, because we are made for the uncreated Good which is God himself.
This means that the good things of this world -- and all the more so, the good of other persons -- far from being obstacles in our quest for ultimate happiness, point us to the Good itself which is their source and in which they share. If we do not love the good things of this world, how shall we be able to love their Maker?
The triune God, who made us for himself and who wants to share the communion of trinitarian love with us, uses the good things of this world to lead us to him who is, we could say, Goodness itself. The challenge -- and, sometimes, the tragedy -- of human existence is to desire and love the created good as if it were divine, to invest an absolute value in what cannot finally satisfy the human heart. That is what sin is. But rightly ordered desire and love of the good things of this world and the good of other persons is already a participation in the Good which is God himself.
These lessons from St. Augustine help us to grasp the point the Holy Father is making in the first part of "Deus Caritas Est" -- that eros is meant to lead us to agape, to the love of God and to the love of one another in God. Pope Benedict resists absolutely the misreading, sometimes perverse, that claims to see in Christian faith the suppression of the ordinary fulfillments of human earthly life, particularly human intimacy and love, in favor of a good beyond life.
On the contrary, for Christian faith the whole range of human desire -- or, to use more technical language, the inclination to the good embedded in the very structure of human existence -- finds it complete fulfillment in the love of the triune God, and nothing less. Although Pope Benedict does not use this expression in the encyclical, we might call this unity of and continuity between eros and agape "the sanctification of desire."
The Service of Charity: The Integral Human Good
The second principal point argued in "Deus Caritas Est," according to the reading I am suggesting today, is actually implicit in the first and is advanced in the second part of the encyclical.
This second point is captured brilliantly in a passage from paragraph 19 of the encyclical: "The entire activity of the Church is an expression of a love that seeks the integral good of man: it seeks his evangelization through Word and Sacrament …; and it seeks to promote man in the various arenas of life and human activity. Love is therefore the service that the Church carries out in order to attend constantly to man's sufferings and his needs, including material needs. " This "the service of charity" is directed to the integral human good, a description of which is the substance, as we have seen, of the encyclical's first major point.
For, while it is true that no created good can satisfy the desires of the human heart, God nonetheless intends us to enjoy these created goods precisely as his gift to us, affording a participation in his own Goodness. These created goods are not rendered irrelevant or dispensable by the fact that they are not themselves ultimate or absolute. The ultimate good does not cancel out or exclude limited or subordinate goods: They retain their integrity and finality in their very ordering to the ultimate good.
Man does not live on bread alone, indeed, but he needs bread in order to live. Integral human fulfillment encompasses a range of created goods even as it necessarily entails a directedness, an inner tendency, toward the enjoyment of the uncreated Good who is God himself, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit who enjoy a communion of life into which we, created persons who are not God, are invited to share as their friends -- and nothing less.
This integral human good is the object of the Church's service of charity: the ultimate good and the intermediate or subordinate goods, the spiritual well-being and the material well-being, the goods of this earthly life and the good beyond life.
Again, Pope Benedict is concerned to refute the pernicious suggestion that, by affirming the priority and ultimacy of a good beyond earthly life, the Church overlooks the poverty and suffering of this world, or, worse, conspires with the "prinicipalities and powers" to maintain the unjust structures that are responsible for this human suffering.
On the contrary. The service of charity encompasses the whole range of the integral good of human beings. The encyclical explains at length how this service of charity has been exercised in Christian history and how it can be exercised in the present day. In the midst of this service, the Church keeps to the forefront that vision of the human good and human dignity that God himself has revealed and inscribed in the human heart from the very moment of the creation of the universe. "The entire activity of the Church is an expression of a love that seeks the integral good of man" ("Deus Caritas Est," No. 19).
"Deus Caritas Est" in the Perspective of the Faith and the Social Sciences
What I have identified as the two major points of the encyclical "Deus Caritas Est" pose a range of challenges to the reflection of Catholics whose professional life is devoted to one or other of the social sciences. In this brief paper, I can only hint at some of the more significant of these challenges -- not only because of the richness of the encyclical's teaching, but also because of the diversity of the social sciences themselves.
For the most part, the program of this plenary session takes its inspiration from the second part of "Deus Caritas Est" in which the Holy Father has a great deal to say about the Catholic understanding of the service of charity and about the practical implications of this understanding for contemporary politics, society and culture. These issues are the bread and butter of social scientists like those who make up this distinguished academy.
To contribute to a robustly Christian engagement with these issues, social scientific inquiries informed by faith must take into account the truth about human nature which is in part already legible in the creation of men and women in God's image and is fully revealed in the contours of the face of Christ -- what the encyclical terms "the integral human good."
The contribution of the social sciences to Christian reflection on these issues thus needs to be framed within the context of the Church's generous tradition -- expressed with great clarity in Pope John Paul II's encyclical "Fides et Ratio" -- according to which the truth discovered in the sciences is in principle coherent with the truth contained in revelation.
The fundamental reason for this lies not in our ability to manipulate bodies of knowledge, but in the nature of truth itself which is one, and thus more radically, in the nature of God himself who is the author of the created order just as much as of the economy of salvation. The Catholic principle is that what is discovered to be true by human reason cannot contradict what is known to be true by faith. This principle forms the background for the important things that Pope Benedict XVI has to say about faith and reason in his discussion of politics in paragraph 28 of "Deus Caritas Est."
The Holy Father's observations here have a direct bearing on the contribution of the social sciences to Christian reflection on the service of charity, understood as an instance of the interface of faith and reason. As an encounter with the living God, faith opens up "new horizons extending beyond the sphere of reason." "But," continues Pope Benedict, faith "is also a purifying force for reason itself. From God's standpoint, faith liberates reason from its blind spots and therefore helps it to do its work more effectively and to see its proper object more clearly" ("Deus Caritas Est," No. 28).
In accord with the traditional Catholic principle, reason retains its integrity and proper finality, but faith contributes to its work by locating the objects of scientific inquiry on, so to speak, the widest possible conceptual map -- that provided by our awareness of the divine desire to share the communion of trinitarian life with creaturely persons, or, to use the terms of the encyclical, the integral human good.
With these principles firmly in place, it seems to me of the greatest possible importance for social scientists like yourselves to resist reductionist accounts of human nature and society, and relativistic accounts of moral reasoning and norms -- accounts which almost by definition obscure the wider horizons of faith about which Pope Benedict speaks in the encyclical.
Such accounts are by no means entailed by research in the social sciences, but often arise from pre-existing philosophical assumptions that come to influence and shape the conclusions of scholarship. This is not the place to trace the complex history of these connections and dependences.
But there is no reason why research that focuses on specific aspects of human behavior and interaction needs to deny the existence of the wider horizon which faith reveals to us. As Pope Benedict tellingly affirms in "Deus Caritas Est," "faith liberates reason from its blind spots."
What is not susceptible to observation and generalization within the limits of a particular social scientific discipline or model can nonetheless provide the context for a fuller understanding of the objects of social scientific inquiry.
I mention this point because the Church faces a huge challenge in the present day in her interaction with international agencies and national governments whose social policies have been influenced by reductionist social science. It can be demonstrated that an entirely secular anthropology -- in the sense of an alternative account of the meaning of human existence -- has, especially since the '90s, come to shape the programs and policies of many international organizations, including the United Nations.
In place of an earlier paradigm in which universal human rights and a common human nature played a normative role, the alternative anthropology espouses the socially constructed character of truth and reality, the priority of cultural diversity, the deconstruction of all moral norms, and priority of personal choice. Although the roots of this secular anthropology are philosophical, the social sciences have been the principal vehicle for its diffusion in modern western societies.
When the Church, in this environment, advances her vision of the integral human good, her interventions are frequently caricatured as retrogressive and intrusive. The alternative anthropology has so powerful a hold on the media, the international aid agencies, many NGOs, and other influential bodies that it is difficult to advance the Christian vision of the integral human good through dialogue, argument and counter-argument. The new anthropology is viewed, in effect, as self-evident and not in need of argument. This situation has created many practical problems that sometimes make it difficult for Catholic aid agencies even to function at the local, national, and even international levels.
Some years ago, when the then Cardinal Ratzinger was its prefect, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith invited about thirty Catholic university faculties across the world to sponsor consultations and symposia on the natural law and universal human values. It is significant that, now as Holy Father, he should state in "Deus Caritas Est" that "the Church's social teaching argues on the basis on reason and natural law, namely, on the basis of what is in accord with the nature of every human being" (No. 28). But it must be admitted that this newly emergent secular vision denies the applicability -- indeed, the knowability -- of any universal account of human nature and destiny.
It is urgent for social scientists whose practice of their disciplines does not in principle exclude some broad account of the integral human good to counter this secular anthropology and the social engineering programs inspired by it. The straightforward, and well-argued account of the Christian vision of the integral human good presented in "Deus Caritas Est" should facilitate the kind of discussion and argument which needs to take place. I cannot think of a better forum for this much-needed debate than the floor of this distinguished academy.
* * *
The encyclical "Deus Caritas Est" bears the date of Christmas 2005, the first Christmas of the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI. This is significant. The only-begotten Son of God took on human nature in order that human persons might share in the divine life. It is this communion of life with creaturely persons that the triune God desires. "I wish in my first Encyclical to speak of the love which God lavishes upon us and which we in turn must share with others" ("Deus Caritas Est," No. 1).
St. Augustine somewhere remarks that it is very difficult for human beings to believe in this love. But we can see that no account of the human condition can be complete that neglects, excludes or denies that the integral human good is found only in the love of God revealed to us on the first Christmas in the Incarnate Word made flesh.
Posted by papabear at 11:18 AM
Friday, May 04, 2007
Salvation as Transfiguration: The Liturgical Soteriology of
St. Maximus the Confessor
Adam A.J. DeVille, Ph.D. (cand.)
Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute at St. Paul University
Writing in the late 1930s, the great Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar observed a process of destruction of Western culture and Christianity that has only increased in the intervening sixty-five years. In such a context, von Balthasar suggested, the inclination on the part of many is to attempt to recover a lost Eden, a garden of delights unspoiled by the acids of modernity and the exigencies of a frequently troubling history. For many Christians, this paradisiacal age is thought to be found in that of the Fathers, and our task is simple: we must return to the way things were done in their time.
Yet, between the Patristic age and our own, there is a great gulf fixed. The former age was one in which highly sophisticated theological disputes were thrashed out frequently at the cost of exile, excommunication, and even death for those on the wrong side. Our present age, by contrast, is one in which many people doubt the very concept of truth, and are supinely indifferent to the ongoing existence of incommensurate and patently contradictory “truths,” thinking none of them worth dying for. Moreover, even many Christians, especially in North America and Western Europe, doubt many (especially moral) truths of the faith “once delivered to the saints.”
In such a context, can a thoroughgoing Byzantine theologian like Maximus the Confessor be relevant--and if he is relevant, can he be approached across such wide expanses of time and space and such profoundly different cultural contexts? This essay will argue that Maximus is relevant to us today and can be accessed, but not by simply adopting all his ideas or imitating all his solutions to the problems of his age. As Alexander Schmemann cautioned us, any return to the Fathers will prove destructive if we seek only to return to their ideas or their texts, and not to their spirit and mind:
It is my impression that with a few exceptions, the “patristic revival”… is a return much more to patristic texts than to the mind of the Fathers, as if these patristic texts were self-sufficient and self-explanatory. It is indeed the “original sin” of the entire western theological development that it made “texts” the only loci theologici, the extrinsic “authorities” of theology, disconnecting theology from its living source: liturgy and spirituality.
The problem with such a textual approach to the Fathers, including Maximus, is that their life was not lived in books but in churches and monasteries, in prayer and at liturgy. If we in our day seek to understand what Maximus has to teach us about salvation, we will be sorely mistaken if we look only to his written works and do not undertake the practices necessary for such salvation. Reading Maximus, in other words, is not enough: we must also act. Accordingly, after examining his tripartite process for salvation as understood in the light of Christ’s Transfiguration, we will close with a reflection on the liturgical texts for Feast of the Transfiguration since it is in the liturgy above all that the Fathers remain alive with us and are able to teach us from beyond the grave. Thus do we outwit the hermeneutic problem of approaching those long dead: we look beyond their texts to their living communion with us in the liturgy and their on-going intercession on our behalf. As von Balthasar so eloquently put it:
[W]e shall not collect the living and sacred documents of our life (and the history of the Church is our life) as a person would collect stamps or butterflies. That would be to demonstrate that we are already dead. Let us read history, our history, as a living account of what we once were, with the double-edged consciousness that all of this has gone forever and that, in spite of everything, that period of youth and every moment of our lives remains mysteriously present at the wellsprings of our soul in a kind of delectable eternity.
I: Salvation as Transfiguration: Foundational Ascetic Practices
At first glance, the Confessor’s soteriology may seem hopelessly abstruse. Any sign of “delectable eternity” is well hidden by writing that is notoriously dense and rhetorically florid. Maximus would seem to be the last person to whom to look for practical counsel on what is necessary that we might obtain eternal salvation. Yet, for all his over-fondness of speculation and sentences that seem never to end, Maximus instead had as his uppermost consideration that of prayer and the practical life. The antinomy of Maximus’s life is that this most complex of theologians is also but a simple monk and man of prayer whose whole concern centres on “ascetic struggle,” leading, as we shall see, to transfiguration in Christ.
This holy monk’s soteriology—insofar as we may treat it systematically, since Maximus was not a systematician—may be summed up as the process of transfiguration of the soul through prayer and ascetic struggle, leading up an ascent through virtue to spiritual knowledge and culminating in theology. We shall consider each of these in turn.
This monastic concern manifests itself repeatedly throughout Difficulty 10, in which we find
the Confessor returning again and again to the theme of “ascetic struggle.” Difficulty 10 is a wide-ranging reflection—which moves from many topics in a pattern of “lateral thinking,” as Louth has put it—but is nonetheless linked by the common concern for the practical means necessary for the contemplation of God and for obtaining salvation. Thus does Maximus return frequently to the examples of, inter alia, Moses, Abraham, the prophets and patriarchs, and the saints who, in possessing “the inerrant knowledge concerning God and divine things…rightly proceed along the straight path.” That straight path is secured through ascetic struggle against the sins to which our fallen nature is prone in an attempt to deny or avoid death. Without such a struggle, it is impossible to begin the process of knowing God: “ascetic struggle destroys evil and through the demonstration of the virtues cuts off from the world those who are completely led through it in their disposition.” Such a struggle, Maximus writes in another place, “overthrows the flesh, sense and the world, through which the relationship of the mind to the intelligible is dissolved, and by his mind alone through love comes to know God.”
For Maximus, ascetic struggle as the first stage in the process of salvific transfiguration aims most simply at “the complete mortification and cessation of desire in the senses,” or what is commonly known among Byzantine theologians as apatheia. One arrives at such a state through ascetic struggle, which is itself composed of a disciplining of the bodily desires—including, inter alia, “conceit…pride and self-esteem,” “‘ignominy of mouth,’” “gluttony” and “envy”—chiefly through prayer until one becomes “completely oblivious of wealth and health and other transient goods which the virtues transcend.” For Maximus, then, the first step along the path to salvation is to undergo that rigorous training which any mountaineer would undertake before attempting to scale a high mountain.
So, too, in the spiritual life, the ascent to Mount Tabor and the uncreated light of Christ’s saving divine power can only be attempted by those who first undertake the rigorous practice and discipline of the body in order to purify the soul and leave the world behind, ascending to God who is without form and beyond the world.  As Lev Gillet notes: “before attaining the light of the Transfiguration, the hard path of asceticism is necessary.” Let us now turn to the fruit of ascetic struggle, viz., those transcendent virtues whose achievement marks the second step in the process of transfiguration leading to the ultimate goal of sanctified deification and thus salvation.
II: Transfiguration Through Virtue
After one has begun the process of ascetic discipline, one begins to move to the next stage in the salvific process of deification. That stage consists in the acquisition of virtue, which Maximus defines simply: “Virtue is a stable and utterly dispassionate state of righteousness.” For Maximus, such a state is intrinsically valuable, sought for its own sake as much as for its role as the “divine chariot” carrying us to God. As he puts it, if a man “has virtues alone and for their sake, he is blessed….If you take away all bodily and external advantages from the condition of general blessedness, and leave nothing whatever but the virtues, it remains a state of blessedness. For virtue, by itself, is sufficient for happiness.”
While Maximus does acknowledge that the acquisition of virtue is a gift from God, he stresses repeatedly that the responsibility is ours to accept or reject: “‘The Lord has given us the tropos of salvation and the eternal power to become sons of God; henceforth, our salvation is in our power.’” It is not, in other words, within God’s power to force us to cooperate with His will:
“created man cannot become a son of God and god by grace through deification unless he is first through his own free choice begotten in the Spirit.” Once a man makes that choice, then the entire panoply of salvation, and the entire pantheon of saintly warriors, open up to him:
For God provides equally to all the power that naturally leads to salvation, so that each one who wishes can be transformed by divine grace. And nothing prevents anyone from willing to become Melchisedec, and Abraham, and Moses, and simply transferring all these Saints to himself, not by changing names and places, but by imitating their forms and way of life.
Of those forms of life crucial for the virtues, none rate so high an encomium as that of
humility, which Maximus regards as the sine qua non of all virtues. Humility is the characteristic virtue of the saints who “hold fast to the form of the virtues par excellence, I mean humility. Now humility is a firm safeguard of all that is good, undermining everything that is opposed to it.” As he puts it elsewhere, “the highest of all blessings [is] humility, that conserves other blessings and destroys their opposites.”
One of the blessings that virtue, founded upon humility, conveys, is the ability to read and understand divine revelation, especially scriptural revelation: “As soon as anyone practices the virtues with true intelligence, he acquires a spiritual understanding of Scripture” and thus avoids the literalism that Maximus denounces in many places. Such a reading of Scripture is part of the acquisition of spiritual knowledge leading to contemplation and ultimately our salvation: “Every lover of salvation is totally committed either to the practice of the virtues or to the contemplative life. For without virtue and spiritual knowledge no one can attain salvation in any way whatsoever.” To the matter of spiritual knowledge, then, let us turn next to understand this further step in the climb up the Mount Tabor of our salvation.
III: Transfiguration Through Spiritual Knowledge
For Maximus, spiritual knowledge is that which enables one to soar beyond the fleshly and the worldly and ascend to great heights of contemplation. Once one has undertaken ascetic struggle, acquired humility, and advanced in virtue, one proceeds concomitantly to develop knowledge of things divine that enables one to contemplate the Providence of God. These is not a strictly linear process and often what we might think of as discrete stages overlap and circle back on one another or occur almost simultaneously. As Louth reminds us, “ascetic struggle is not simply an initial stage to be accomplished as quickly as possible, it is an abiding concern of the spiritual life.” Just as a mountaineer does not always ascend to the top in a direct line, but sometimes has to descend in order to ascend from a better position, or move laterally to find a better vantage point from which to continue climbing, so too with the relationship between virtue and spiritual knowledge: “man’s manifestation through the virtues of the God who is by nature invisible is correlative with the degree to which his intellect is seized by God and imbued with spiritual knowledge.”
Virtue and spiritual knowledge, then, go together—although not always, and in some rare instances one who is “smutted by the passions may possibly deduce knowledge of divine things by means of plausible guesswork; but they cannot grasp or express such knowledge with any accuracy.” Maximus recognizes, in other words, that what he calls spiritual knowledge is not simply the result of “mere learning,” which, as often as not, is simply a human creation.
By contrast, Maximus insists that we may attain correct knowledge of things divine, but such an attainment is not of our own devising: “a man whose intellect has been formed by the knowledge that comes by dint of the virtues through the divine Spirit is said to experience divine things; for he has acquired such knowledge not by nature, thanks simply to his existence, but by grace, thanks to his participation in it.” Spiritual knowledge, then, is a divine gift, but once again we must freely choose to participate in it. Our participation is not in a simple, natural acquisition of facts about God, but in a completely transforming process in God and for God so that, with St. Paul, we may say, “It is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives in me.” This transposition of the self, this total gift of the self, means that any spiritual knowledge acquired consists not in a tangible facts and figures that can be demonstrably discussed and disseminated but is to be understood more as “erotic” knowledge beyond the empirical. Whilst qualifying his terms so that we do not misunderstand him, Maximus nonetheless presses the point: “spiritual knowledge unites knower and known” in “an erotic union in the Spirit.”
For Maximus, then, “spiritual knowledge,” the second stage in our transfiguration in Christ, is to be understood more in monastic and marital terms--as the union of lovers--than academic and scientific ones. Spiritual knowledge, as that intercourse between human and divine, between our efforts and God’s gracious revelation, is embodied above all in Christ’s nuptial self-giving. As Aidan Nichols comments:
Faced with the mystery of the Incarnate Word, Maximus at last grasped that man is not divinised by a simple prolongation of his natural dynamism, but by a change which fulfils his natural aspiration only through transposing it into a new key, in that realm of being and action proper only to persons. Hencefore, where salvation is concerned, divinisation and Christology will form one single mystery.
For Maximus, divinisation and Christology form one single unity and the spiritual knowledge we acquire does not provide us with any “new data” beyond the Christological. Maximus, ever eschewing the role of innovator and the temptation of Gnosticism, suggests that spiritual knowledge simply takes one into the realm of tried and true dogma: “the saints have received the many divine mysteries…and were immediately initiated into knowledge of reality in accordance with the tradition passed down to them from those before them.”
Moreover, Maximus is at pains in several places to stress what is perhaps the central antinomy of the Christian life: the more one draws closer to the Triune God, the darker one’s knowledge becomes—or, to put it in terms of the metaphor we have been using throughout, the higher up one draws to the transfigured Christ on Mount Tabor, the more one becomes blinded by the light, until, at the peak and thus closest to Christ, one cannot see at all with only eyes of flesh. This antinomy of hidden-revealed is drawn out at length in Difficulty 5:
Having become man he [ie., Christ] himself remains completely incomprehensible, and shows his own Incarnation…to be more incomprehensible than any mystery. The more he becomes comprehensible through it, so much the more through it is he known to be incomprehensible. ‘For he is hidden after his revelation,’ the teacher says, ‘or, to speak more divinely, also in his revelation. And this mystery of Jesus in itself remains hidden, and can be drawn out by no reason, by no intellect, but when spoken of it remains ineffable, and when understood unknown.’
The higher one climbs, the more one perceives Christ to be unknown; the greater spiritual knowledge one has of divine things, the less one is able to see and say. In other words, the more the light of spiritual knowledge brightens one’s mind, the darker one’s perception of God becomes, and so one is thrown back on faith. This theological antinomy occupies a large place in Maximus’s writings, especially on the Transfiguration, and so we turn to it next.
IV: Transfiguration as Theology: Antinomic Method
Accustomed as we moderns are to thinking of theology as an academic discipline with discrete boundaries and definite subject matter, we may come to Maximus’s use of this term and find it puzzling. Yet, in light of the foregoing, we may surmise by now that for Maximus “theology,” like the other stages of the salvific ascent up Mount Tabor, is not an academic discipline (Maximus, after all, was the successor to Evagrius, for whom the theologian is simply the one who prays) but, rather, the result of prayer. Theology is largely a synonym for contemplation in and through Christ of the Trinity, as brought about by Spirit-inspired prayer: “Theology is taught us by the incarnate Logos of God, since He reveals in Himself the Father and the Holy Spirit.”
Such a contemplation of the Triune God is as much a revelation as a veiling, as we saw earlier. In this, Maximus takes us once again to the classical antinomy between a theology of negation and that of affirmation, which he understands again via a reflection on the Transfiguration:
For I think that the divinely-fitting events that took place on the mount at the Transfiguration secretly indicate two universal modes of theology: that is, that which is pre-eminent and simple and uncaused, and through sole and complete denial truly affirms the divine, and fittingly and solemnly exalts its transcendence through speechlessness, and then that which follows this and is composite, and from what has been caused magnificently sketches out…through affirmation.
Maximus is here suggesting that the one path we have been following up Mount Tabor is now about to diverge. All the climbers have undertaken ascetic disciplines and practiced virtues leading to spiritual knowledge, but once they have progressed through these stages, some will ascend still higher via a “hidden apophatic theology” in which “the blessed and holy Godhead is by essence beyond ineffability and unknowability and countlessly raised above all infinity, leaving not the slightest trace of comprehension to those who are after it, nor disclosing any idea to any being.”
Others, however, will engage in a positive contemplation, or what the Confessor calls “the affirmative mode” which has three components to it: “activity,” “providence,” and “judgment.” Whether via such “active” means or by the more negative ones, the goal is still the same: “it is our aim to make the intelligence stand alone, stripped through the virtues of its affection for the body.” Only one so stripped may ascend to the top of Tabor and there see, and be seen by, the uncreated light radiating from Christ, who is the source and summit of the Christian life.
When one thus prepared arrives at the top, Maximus sketches out what awaits them as awaited the Apostles whom Christ took with Him to His Transfiguration:
[T]hey passed over from flesh to spirit, before they had put aside this fleshly life, by the change in their powers of sense that the Spirit worked in them….Then, having both the bodily and the spiritual senses purified, they were taught the spiritual meanings [logoi] of the mysteries that were shown to them….Thus they arrived at a clear and correct understanding concerning God, and were set free from every attachment to the world and the flesh.
Those who scale Tabor, then, find themselves arriving at the top in human form, but yet taken beyond human form to contemplate God in a way that is pure, clear, and free from human frailty and fallibility. As Nichols puts it:
For Maximus, the whole “matter” of existence, whether thought or action, is not just renewed but “innovated”–recreated from the roots up–by entrance into the life of the children of God. As Creator, the Logos furnishes man with these “materials” but as Word Incarnate, he communicates to him the new life which “innovates” nature in his person.
This innovation and re-creation, as we have suggested, is for Maximus akin to climbing Mount Tabor, which is not a one-time affair but an on-going transfiguration for all of us. Salvation is thus a process akin to mountaineering. The base of the mountain of salvation is the ascetic practices of prayer and self-denial; the first step is the acquisition of virtue, of which humility is the most important; the next level is spiritual knowledge; the penultimate peak is “theology” or contemplation of the divine along paths of both negation and affirmation; and then the summit is complete transfiguration whereby the self is transposed and we become deified, hearing, like Christ, the Father’s commendation, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” Such a commendation from the Father puts squarely before us now the entire purpose of our ascent: to know the Father’s love and be utterly transfigured in, and ecstatically enraptured by, it. Such, as Hans Urs von Balthasar has reminded us, is the source and summit of man’s life as Maximus understood it: “pour Maxime, l’amour est la synthèse de tout ce que est humain dans l’homme.”
V: Salvation as Transfiguration and Deification: Some Liturgical Conclusions
We began by asking how Maximus might be relevant for us today, and how we could receive wisdom from a figure who lived so long ago and in such profoundly different times. We are now in a position to give an answer. As Maximus himself would not hesitate to counsel, what matters is not reading his own often-difficult treatises but what matters is prayer, and above all the liturgy. We conclude with a brief reflection on how the three stages of salvific ascent to transfiguration come through in the liturgical texts for the Feast of the Transfiguration on August 6th.
Maximus argues that the first stage of the ascent of Tabor is that of ascetic struggle. Without struggling against our fallen nature, we will never advance in the spiritual life. This theme is even today still pointedly put before us in the Ikos of Orthros on August 6th: “Come, stay awake! If we let laziness chain us to the ground, our spirits will never rise to lofty matters. Let us rise and go up the slope of the divine Mount.” Thus there is, in one of the opening hymns of the feast day, a clear call sounded to all of us to take up the necessary work of disciplining our passions and overcoming our laziness so that we might be ready for the ascent.
The second stage, as we saw, is the acquisition of virtue. This, too, comes out in the hymnography, drawn out clearly in the fourth stichera from Great Vespers: “O Lord, when You were transfigured on a high mountain in the presence of Your foremost disciples, You radiated with glory, showing how those who lead an outstanding life of virtue will be made worthy of the glory of heaven.” Once more, a Maximian theme may be detected.
Third and finally, the stage of contemplation takes one into the Triune God and allows one to see clearly the mystery of each Person. This theme comes out in several of the texts of the feast, but is perhaps best summed up by the exapostilarion of Matins: “Today, O Word, You reveal Your light on Tabor, O unaltered light of the eternal Father’s Light! And in Your light, we see the light of the Father and the Holy Spirit, guiding all creation with eternal uncreated light.”
We have been arguing that salvation for Maximus the Confessor is a tripartite process of gradual transfiguration in which we are challenged to ascetic practices, virtue, and spiritual knowledge before ascending to theological contemplation of the uncreated light and thus to deification. In sum, salvation for Maximus is a process of cooperating with, and participating in, the grace of God through several stages of ascent, leading to a freedom from every earthly attachment and the ability to see God as Moses and Elijah did on top of the mountain. This is not a direct progression from one absolute, discrete stage to the next, but much more of a circuitous process: not a straight path upward, but a spiral that circles back on itself and only gradually ascends. Such an ascent will lead us in the final analysis to our salvation by our “deliverance from death, separation from corruption, liberation from slavery, cessation of turbulence, destruction of wars, dispelling of darkness, rest from suffering, calming of turmoil, eclipsing of shame, escape from passions and, to sum up, the termination of all evils.” If such are the treasures that await us atop Mount Tabor, may we all run with eagerness to ascend it, aided by the prayers of that master mountaineer, our holy father among the saints, Maximus the Confessor!
 Hans Urs von Balthasar, “The Fathers, the Scholastics, and Ourselves,” Communio vol. xxiv no. 2 (Summer 1997):347-396. (This essay was originally published in 1939.) Von Balthasar demonstrates how fatuously romantic and therefore undesirable—indeed, impossible—the idea of a return is: “No time is completely like another, and the Church is always standing before a new situation, and therefore before a new decision in which she can let herself receive advice and admonition from her past experiences but in which, however, the decision must be faced directly: The past can never lighten, let alone dispense from, the decision itself” (p. 370).
 See, for but one germane example, the famous trial of St. Maximus: G. Berthold, Maximus Confessor. Selected Writings (New York: Paulist Press, 1985).
 See Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1981) for one of the most profound and influential treatments of the philosophical crisis of our age.
 Jude 3. For an eloquent and theologically compelling response to these doubts, see the encyclical letter of Pope John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor (Vatican City: Polyglot Press, 1993).
 For an initial attempt to situate Maximus in something of an historical context, see Jaroslav Pelikan, “The Place of Maximus the Confessor in the History of Christian Thought,” in Heinzer Felix and Christoph Schonborn, Maximus Confessor. Actes du Symposium sur Maxime le Confessor (Fribourg-en-Suisse: Editions Universitaires, 1982): 387-402.
 As Andrew Louth suggests, an increasing number of people are coming to see Maximus’s relevance for our age, as evidenced by renewed scholarly attention being paid to him: Andrew Louth, “Recent Research on St. Maximus the Confessor: A Survey,” St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly vol. 42 no. 1 (1998): 67-84.
 Alexander Schmemann, “Liturgical Theology, Theology of Liturgy, and Liturgical Reform,” in Liturgy and Tradition: Theological Reflections of Alexander Schmemann, ed. Thomas Fisch (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1990), 42. This essay was originally published in St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 13 (1969): 217-224.
 Hans Urs von Balthasar, Presence and Thought: An Essay on the Religious Philosophy of Gregory of Nyssa, trans. Mark Sebanc (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1995 ), 13. For a brief comparison between Maximus and Gregory (and his Cappadocian confreres), see George C. Berthold,. “The Cappadocian Roots of Maximus the Confessor,” in eds. Heinzer Felix and Christoph Schonborn, Maximus Confessor. Actes du Symposium sur Maxime le Confessor (Fribourg-en-Suisse: Editions Universitaires, 1982): 51-9. Cf. also Andrew Louth, “St. Gregory the Theologian and St. Maximus the Confessor: The Shaping of Tradition,” in eds. S. Coakley and D.A. Pailin, The Making and Remaking of Christian Doctrine: Essays in Honour of Maurice Wills (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993): 117-130.
 As Louth tells us, no less a figure that the Photius, the ninth century Patriarch of Constantinople, found Maximus very difficult to interpret and understand. And as Louth observes, Maximus seems “positively shy of full-stops!” Andrew Louth, Maximus the Confessor (London and New York: Routledge, 1996), 81.
 Ibid., 21.
 See note 14, below.
 Cf. St. Maximus the Confessor, Difficulty 10 31B, cited in Andrew Louth, Maximus the Confessor, 131.
 In commenting on the Transfiguration, Maximus writes “‘these tabernacles represent the three stages of salvation, namely that of virtue, that of spiritual knowledge, and that of theology.’” Andrew Louth, Maximus the Confessor, 46, quoting CT II.13-16.
 This phrase occurs numerous times in his writings. In Difficulty 10, it comes up in sections 1108A (Louth: p. 97), 1109B (Louth: p.98), 1145A (Louth: p.119), 1145C (Louth: p. 120), 1148A (Louth: p.120), 1149C (Louth: p.122), 1161A (Louth: p.129). As Louth writes in his introduction, “for Maximus, into whatever realm of speculation his intellect roams, ascetic theology remains fundamental” (p. 44).
 Ibid., 94.
 Difficulty 10, 30: Louth, Maximus the Confessor, 128.
 Jean-Claude Larchet provides a helpful analysis of the consequences of sin and death according to Maximus in his, “Ancestral Guilt According to St. Maximus the Confessor: A Bridge Between Eastern and Western Conceptions,” Sobornost 20/1 (1998): 26-48. Cf. John Boojamra, “Original Sin According to St. Maximus the Confesssor,” St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 20 (1976): 19-30.
 Ibid., 1161C, p.129.
 Difficulty 10, 1148A: Louth, Maximus the Confessor, 120.
 Maximus the Confessor, On the Lord’s Prayer, in The Philokalia, trans. G.E.H. Palmer, P. Sherrard, K. Ware (London/Boston, 1984), 291.
 Cf. Difficulty 10 1148b-D: Louth, Maximus the Confessor, 121.
 Maximus the Confessor, Fifth Century in The Philokalia, 262.
 Ibid., 265 (cf. 2 Sam. 4:4).
 Ibid., 274.
 For more on Maximus’s approach to prayer, see “On the Lord’s Prayer,” in The Philokalia, 285-305.
 Difficulty 10, 1172D: Louth, Maximus the Confessor, 136. Elsewhere, Maximus gives another list of the vices or bodily desires against which one must war: “Anger, bloodthirstiness, wrath, guile, hypocrisy, dissembling, resentment, greed, and everything by thich the one human person is divided up.” Letter 2: On Love 397D in Louth, Maximus the Confessor, 88.
 “For truly the great and fearful gulf between God and human beings is the desire and inclination to the body and this world.” Difficulty 10 1172A in Louth, Maximus the Confessor, 135.
 Lev Gillet (“A Monk of the Eastern Church”), The Year of Grace of the Lord: A Scriptural and Liturgical Commentary on the Calendar of the Orthodox Church, trans. Deborah Cowan (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2001 [original English edition: 1980]), 240.
 Maximus, Fifth Century in The Philokalia, 261.
 Difficulty 10 1124B (12), in Ibid., 107.
 Difficulty 10 1173A (34) in Ibid., 136.
 Maximus, Liber asceticus, PG 90, 953B : cited in Aidan Nichols, Byzantine Gospel: Maximus the Confessor in Modern Scholarship (Edinburgh, T&T Clark, 1993), 208.
 Fifth Century no. 97 in The Philokalia, 284.
 Difficulty 10 1144A (20b) in Louth, Maximus the Confessor, 118.
 Difficulty 10 1205A (51) in Ibid., 153.
 Maximus the Confessor, Fifth Century in The Philokalia, 282.
 Maximus, Fifth Century in The Philokalia, 273.
 See, e.g., Fifth Century, paragraphs 27, 33-40 in The Philokalia, 266-270.
 Fifth Century in The Philokalia, 275.
 Providence is a common theme in Maximus: see, e.g., Difficulty 10 1188D (42)-1193A in Louth, Maximus the Confessor, 144-47.
 Andrew Louth, Maximus the Confessor, 69.
 Fifth Century in The Philokalia, 278.
 Ibid., 264.
 Ibid., 265.
 Galatians 2:20.
 Fifth Century nos. 84-88 in The Philokalia, 280-282.
 Ibid., no. 91, 88 in The Philokalia, 282.
 Cf. Ephesians 5:25-32.
 Aidan Nichols, Byzantine Gospel, 207.
 Difficulty 41 1304D: Louth, Maximus the Confessor, 156.
 Difficulty 5 1049A in Ibid., 173.
 For more on the relationship between Maximus and Evagrius, see Louth, Maximus the Confessor, 35-38.
 On the Lord’s Prayer in The Philokalia, 287.
 Difficulty10 1165B (31B) in Louth, Maximus the Confessor, 131.
 Difficulty 10 1168A (31D) in Ibid., 132.
 Difficulty 10 1168B (31c) in Ibid., 133.
 On the Lord’s Prayer in The Philokalia, 293.
 Difficulty 10 11128A (17) in Louth, Maximus the Confessor, 109.
 Nichols, Byzantine Gospel, 198.
 In his commentary on the Transfiguration, Archbishop Joseph Raya notes the “Transfiguration is not simply an event out of the two-thousand-year old past, or a future yet to come. It is rather a reality of the present, a way of life available to those who seek and accept Christ’s nearness.” Joseph Raya, Transfiguration of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (Combermere, ON: Madonna House, 1992), 115.
 Matthew 17:5.
 “Deification through assumption into the divine is produced by perfect love and an intellect voluntarily blinded, because of its transcendent state, to created things.” Fifth Century no. 93 in The Philokalia, 283. For more on the theme of ecstasy in Maximus, see Louth, Maximus the Confessor, 42-43.
 Hans Urs von Balthasar, Liturgie Cosmique: Maxime le Confesseur ( Paris: Editions Montaigne, 1947), 263.
 Had we time, it would be equally fruitful to undertake a study of other texts from this feast bearing a Maximian mark of influence, including Ode 3 of the Canon, which celebrates the consubstantiality of Christ in a way reminiscent of the Confessor’s treatment of it.
 August Menaion: Service Books of the Byzantine Churches (Newton Centre, Massachusetts: Sophia Press, 1994, 63.
 Ibid., 50.
 Ibid., 69.
 Fifth Century no. 76 in The Philokalia, 278.
At Mere Comments, Mr. Stuart Koehl writes the following:
Is the history accurate?
The Trindentine Mass is itself something of an artifact, having been redacted by the Tridentine liturgical commission from the typical edition of the Romano-Frankish rite used in the city of Bologna. It accurately reflects the state of Roman liturgical observance in the mid-16th century, which means that it enshrines a number of late medieval Latin liturgical innovations, many of which are not consistent with the patristic understanding of liturgy, let alone the liturgical usage of the Latin Church in the first millennium. Rather than being more traditional than the Ordo Paulus VI (aka the Novus Ordo), it in fact represents a radical departure from a tradition common to both the Western and Eastern Churches, to which the Vatican II liturgical commission was attempting (with mixed success) to return.
These deviations include the total clericalization of the liturgy, with the role of the people reduced to spectators; according to the rubrics of the Tridentine rite, only the words uttered by the priest are efficacious--a concept alient to Orthodoxy and the ancient liturgical tradition. This also permits the priest to celebrate "private" Masses, without any other people present, another radical departure from tradition.
Moreover, according to the ancient tradition, the pontifical or hierarchical form of the liturgy, as celebrated by the bishop, is normative, with parochial usage redacted from that. But the Tridentine liturgical commission believed the low Mass was the normative form, and developed the Tridentine high Mass by adding elements to the Low. In the ancient tradition, as in Orthodoxy today, there is only one form of Eucharistic liturgy, and all of them are derivations of the pontifical Liturgy.
When one considers the many ways in which the Tridentine Mass is a deviation from Tradition, it is surprising that so many Orthodox claim to prefer it to the Novus Ordo. This may just be the result of complete unfamiliarity (how many have actually "heard" the Tridentine), or, in the case of some older ex-Roman Catholics, it may just be nostalgia (or perhaps apologia pro vita sua).
Making the irony complete is the influence that the Tridentine Mass has had on the Orthodox Divine Liturgy since the 16th century. Because of the Turkocratia, most Greek liturgy books were published in Venice by Greek writers and musicians. They were deeply influenced by liturgical developments in the Latin Church, most noticeably in music. It is through Italy that polyphonic, composed music enters Orthodox liturgical music, to the point that, in the mid-17th century, composed music almost totally displaces the plainchant tradition. This is most notable in Russia, where court patronage actually brings in Italian composers to write liturgical music, which in turn is aped by indigenous Russian composers. Because of the switch to composed music, capable of being sung only by trained musicians, popular participation in the Divine Liturgy, where not eliminated altogether, is greatly truncated, so that in both the Greek and Russian Churches, there is a focused movement to restore congregational singing (e.g., the organization "Chant", which goes to parishes to teach people to sing). As per usual, the Orthodox are so solipsistic that many insist "congregational singing" is a "latinization", because it is done by Greek Catholics. Of course, the opposite is true--the Greek Catholics, like the Old Believers, retain the ancient tradition, while choral singing is the innovation.
Which brings us to the second, more insidious effect of the Tridentine Mass on Orthodox liturgy: it introduced the notion of liturgical uniformity--the desirability, even the necessity of a "typical edition" to be used by all parishes in a particular Church. In the ancient Orthodox tradition, though there were just two (in some instances three) forms of the liturgy, there were many local usages, within Churches, even within dioceses. This was understood as part of the dynamism of the Church, and was not only tolerated but encouraged by the issuance of Typicons to individual monasteries. When the Russian Patriarch Nikon, encouraged by Tsar Alexei, attempted to impose a single, "reformed" rite on the Russian Church, it had two unfortunate effects: it introduced more errors than it eliminated, since the Greek texts used by the "reformers" were later than those already used by the Russian Church, and included a number of "latinizations"; and it instigated the Raskol, or Schism, between the Church of Moscow and the Old Ritualists (aka the Old Believers), which caused serious fissures within the Church and also led to the sinful repression of these people who wanted no more than to worship as they always had. The final irony, of course, is today the Old Ritualists are rightfully seen by the Moscow Patriarchate as being a repository of the undiluted Russian liturgical tradition, and their music and practices are assiduously studied by Orthodox Church scholars.
Another source of the pre-Nikonian tradition is the 1629 Liturgikon of St. Peter Moghila, now available in a dazzling reproduction edition (if you have $500 lying around), which shows how liturgy was celebrated in the area of Kyiv in the generation before the Nikonian reforms. It convincingly demonstrates how many practices of the Ruthenian Greek Catholics (Ukrainian and Rusyn) condemned as latinizations are authentically Orthodox. Conversely, it also showed that some practices condemned by Ukrainian and Rusyn nationalists as "russifications" were also authentically Kyivan.
Is the history accurate?
The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptized
by International Theological Commission
1. St. Peter encourages Christians to be always ready to give an account of the hope that is in them (cf. 1 Pt 3:15-16).1 This document deals with the hope that Christians can have for the salvation of unbaptized infants who die. It indicates how such a hope has developed in recent decades and what its grounds are so as to enable an account of that hope to be given.
Though at first sight this topic may seem to be peripheral to theological concerns, questions of great depth and complexity are involved in its proper explication, and such an explication is called for today by pressing pastoral needs.
2. In these times the number of infants who die unbaptized is growing greatly. This is partly because of parents influenced by cultural relativism and religious pluralism who are nonpracticing, but it is also partly a consequence of in vitro fertilization and abortion. Given these developments, the question of the destiny of such infants is raised with new urgency.
In such a situation the ways by which salvation may be achieved appear ever more complex and problematic. The church, faithful guardian of the way of salvation, knows that salvation can be achieved only in Christ, by the Holy Spirit. Yet as mother and teacher, she cannot fail to reflect on the destiny of all human beings, created in the image of God,2 and especially of the weakest.
Being endowed with reason, conscience and freedom, adults are responsible for their own destiny insofar as they accept or reject God's grace. Infants, however, who do not yet have the use of reason, conscience and freedom, cannot decide for themselves.
Parents experience great grief and feelings of guilt when they do not have the moral assurance of the salvation of their children, and people find it increasingly difficult to accept that God is just and merciful if he excludes infants, who have no personal sins, from eternal happiness, whether they are Christian or non-Christian.
From a theological point of view, the development of a theology of hope and an ecclesiology of communion, together with a recognition of the greatness of divine mercy, challenge an unduly restrictive view of salvation. In fact, the universal salvific will of God and the correspondingly universal mediation of Christ mean that all theological notions that ultimately call into question the very omnipotence of God, and his mercy in particular, are inadequate.
3. The idea of limbo, which the church has used for many centuries to designate the destiny of infants who die without baptism, has no clear foundation in revelation even though it has long been used in traditional theological teaching. Moreover, the notion that infants who die without baptism are deprived of the beatific vision, which has for so long been regarded as the common doctrine of the church, gives rise to numerous pastoral problems, so much so that many pastors of souls have asked for a deeper reflection on the ways of salvation.
The necessary reconsideration of the theological issues cannot ignore the tragic consequences of original sin. Original sin implies a state of separation from Christ, and that excludes the possibility of the vision of God for those who die in that state.
4. Reflecting on the question of the destiny of infants who die without baptism, the ecclesial community must keep in mind the fact that God is more properly the subject than the object of theology. The first task of theology is therefore to listen to the word of God. Theology listens to the word of God expressed in the Scriptures in order to communicate it lovingly to all people.
However, with regard to the salvation of those who die without baptism, the word of God says little or nothing. It is therefore necessary to interpret the reticence of Scripture on this issue in the light of texts concerning the universal plan of salvation and the ways of salvation. In short, the problem both for theology and for pastoral care is how to safeguard and reconcile two sets of biblical affirmations: those concerning God's universal salvific will (cf. 1 Tm 2:4) and those regarding the necessity of baptism as the way of being freed from sin and conformed to Christ (cf. Mk 16:16; Mt 28:18-19).
5. Second, 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 baptized, because they were killed "on account of Christ."3
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 unbaptized infants whose parents intended to present them for baptism. The church entrusts to God's mercy those infants who die unbaptized.
In its 1980 instruction on children's 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."4
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992) adds that "the great mercy of God, who desires that all men should be saved [1 Tm 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."5
6. Third, the church cannot fail to encourage the hope of salvation for infants who die without baptism by the very fact that she "prays that no one should be lost"6 and prays in hope for "all to be saved."7 On the basis of an anthropology of solidarity,8 strengthened by an ecclesial understanding of corporate personality, the church knows the help that can be given by the faith of believers. The Gospel of Mark actually describes an occasion when the faith of some was effective for the salvation of another (cf. Mk 2:5).
So, while knowing that the normal way to achieve salvation in Christ is by baptism in re, the church hopes that there may be other ways to achieve the same end. Because by his incarnation the Son of God "in a certain way united himself" with every human being and because Christ died for all and all are in fact "called to one and the same destiny, which is divine," the church believes that "the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery" (Gaudium et Spes, 22).9
7. Finally, when reflecting theologically on the salvation of infants who die without baptism, the church respects the hierarchy of truths and therefore begins by clearly reaffirming the primacy of Christ and his grace, which has priority over Adam and sin. Jesus Christ, in his existence for us and in the redemptive power of his sacrifice, died and rose again for all. By his whole life and teaching, he revealed the fatherhood of God and his universal love.
While the necessity of baptism is de fide, the tradition and the documents of the magisterium which have reaffirmed this necessity need to be interpreted. While it is true that the universal salvific will of God is not opposed to the necessity of baptism, it is also true that infants, for their part, do not place any personal obstacle in the way of redemptive grace.
On the other hand, baptism is administered to infants, who are free from personal sins, not only in order to free them from original sin but also to insert them into the communion of salvation which is the church, by means of communion in the death and resurrection of Christ (cf. Rom 6:1-7). Grace is totally free, because it is always a pure gift of God.
Damnation, however, is deserved, because it is the consequence of free human choice.10 The infant who dies with baptism is saved by the grace of Christ and through the intercession of the church even without his or her cooperation. It can be asked whether the infant who dies without baptism but for whom the church in its prayer expresses the desire for salvation can be deprived of the vision of God even without his or her cooperation.
1. Historia Quaestionis — History and Hermeneutics of Catholic Teaching
1.1. Biblical Foundations
8. A sound theological inquiry should start with a study of the biblical foundations of any ecclesial doctrine or practice. Hence, as regards the issue under discussion, the question should be asked whether the Holy Scriptures deal in one way or another with the question of the destiny of unbaptized children.
Even a quick look through the New Testament, however, makes it clear that the early Christian communities were not yet confronted with the question whether infants or children who had died without baptism would receive God's salvation. When the New Testament mentions the practice of baptism, it generally points to the baptism of adults.
But the New Testament evidence does not preclude the possibility of infants being baptized. In households (oikos) where baptism is mentioned in the Book of Acts 16:15 and 33 (cf. 18:8) and First Corinthians 1:16, children may have been baptized along with adults. The absence of positive evidence may be explained by the fact that the New Testament writings are concerned mainly with the initial spread of Christianity in the world.
9. The lack of any positive teaching within the New Testament with respect to the destiny of unbaptized children does not mean that the theological discussion of this question is not informed by a number of fundamental biblical doctrines. These include:
(i) God wills to save all people (cf. Gn 3:15; 22:18; 1 Tm 2:3-6), through Jesus Christ's victory over sin and death (cf. Eph 1:20-22; Phil 2:7-11; Rom 14:9; 1 Cor 15:20-28).
(ii) The universal sinfulness of human beings (cf. Gn 6:5-6; 8:21; 1 Kgs 8:46; Ps 130:3), and their being born in sin (cf. Ps 51:7; Sir 25:24) since Adam, and therefore their being destined to death (cf. Rom 5:12; 1 Cor 15:22).
(iii) The necessity for salvation of the faith of the believer (cf. Rom 1:16) on the one hand and of baptism (cf. Mk 16:16; Mt 28:19; Acts 2:40-41; 16:30-33) and the Eucharist (cf. Jn 6:53) administered by the church on the other hand.
(iv) Christian hope goes utterly beyond human hope (cf. Rom 4:18-21); Christian hope is that the living God, the Savior of all humanity (cf. 1 Tm 4:10), will share his glory with all people and that all will live with Christ (cf. 1 Thes 5:9-11; Rom 8:2-5,23-25), and Christians must be ready to give an account of the hope they have (cf. 1 Pt 3:15).
(v) The church must make "supplications, prayers and intercessions... for all" (1 Tm 2:1-8), based on faith that for God's creative power "nothing is impossible" (Jb 42:2; Mk 10:27; 12:24,27; Lk 1:37) and on the hope that the whole creation will finally share in the glory of God (cf. Rom 8:22-27).
10. There seems to be a tension between two of the biblical doctrines just mentioned: the universal salvific will of God on the one side and the necessity of sacramental baptism on the other. The latter seems to limit the extension of God's universal salvific will. Hence a hermeneutical reflection is needed about how the witnesses of tradition (church fathers, the magisterium, theologians) read and used biblical texts and doctrines with respect to the problem being dealt with. More specifically, one has to clarify what kind of "necessity" is claimed with respect to the sacrament of baptism in order to avoid a mistaken understanding.
The necessity of sacramental baptism is a necessity of the second order compared to the absolute necessity of God's saving act through Jesus Christ for the final salvation of every human being. Sacramental baptism is necessary because it is the ordinary means through which a person shares the beneficial effects of Jesus' death and resurrection. In what follows, we will be attentive to the way scriptural witnesses have been used in the tradition. Moreover, in dealing with theological principles (Chapter 2) and with our reasons for hope (Chapter 3), we will discuss in greater detail the biblical doctrines and texts involved.
1.2. The Greek Fathers
11. Very few Greek fathers dealt with the destiny of infants who die without baptism because there was no controversy about this issue in the East. Furthermore, they had a different view of the present condition of humanity.
For the Greek fathers, as the consequence of Adams sin, human beings inherited corruption, passibility and mortality, from which they could be restored by a process of deification made possible through the redemptive work of Christ. The idea of an inheritance of sin or guilt — common in Western tradition — was foreign to this perspective since in their view sin could only be a free, personal act.11 Hence, not many Greek fathers explicitly deal with the problem of the salvation of unbaptized children.
They do, however, discuss the status or situation — but not the place — of these infants after their death. In this regard the main problem they face is the tension between God's universal salvific will and the teaching of the Gospel about the necessity of baptism. Pseudo -Athanasius says clearly that an unbaptized person cannot enter the kingdom of God. He also asserts that unbaptized children will not enter the kingdom but neither will they be lost, for they have not sinned.12
Anastasius of Sinai expresses this even more clearly: For him, unbaptized children do not go to Gehenna. But he is not able to say more; he does not express an opinion about where they do go, but leaves their destiny to God's judgment.13
12. Alone among the Greek fathers, Gregory of Nyssa wrote a work specifically on the destiny of infants who die, De infantibus praemature abreptis libellum.14 The anguish of the church appears in the questions he puts to himself: The destiny of these infants is a mystery, "something much greater than the human mind can grasp."15 He expresses his opinion in relation to virtue and its reward; in his view there is no reason for God to grant what is hoped for as a reward. Virtue is not worth anything if those who depart this life prematurely without having practiced virtue are immediately welcomed into blessedness.
Continuing along this line, Gregory asks, "What will happen to the one who finishes his life at a tender age, who has done nothing, bad or good? Is he worthy of a reward?"16 He answers, "The hoped for blessedness belongs to human beings by nature, and it is called a reward only in a certain sense."17
Enjoyment of true life (zoe and not bios) corresponds to human nature and is possessed in the degree that virtue is practiced. Since the innocent infant does not need purification from personal sins, he shares in this life corresponding to his nature in a sort of regular progress, according to his capacity. Gregory of Nyssa distinguishes between the destiny of infants and that of adults who lived a virtuous life. "The premature death of newborn infants does not provide a basis for the presupposition that they will suffer torments or that they will be in the same state as those who have been purified in this life by all the virtues."18
Finally, he offers this perspective for the reflection of the church: "Apostolic contemplation fortifies our inquiry, for the One who has done everything well, with wisdom (Ps 104:24), is able to bring good out of evil."19
13. Gregory of Nazianzus does not write about the place and status after death of infants who die without sacramental baptism, but he enlarges the subject with another consideration. He writes, namely, that these children receive neither praise nor punishment from the just judge because they have suffered injury rather than provoked it. "The one who does not deserve punishment is not thereby worthy of praise, and the one who does not deserve praise is not thereby deserving of punishment."20
The profound teaching of the Greek fathers can be summarized in the opinion of Anastasius of Sinai: "It would not be fitting to probe God's judgments with one's hands."21
14. On the one hand, these Greek fathers teach that children who die without baptism do not suffer eternal damnation, though they do not attain the same state as those who have been baptized. On the other hand, they do not explain what their state is like or where they go. In this matter the Greek fathers display their characteristic apophatic sensitivity.
1.3. The Latin Fathers
15. The fate of unbaptized infants first became the subject of sustained theological reflection in the West during the anti-Pelagian controversies of the early fifth century. St. Augustine addressed the question because Pelagius was teaching that infants could be saved without baptism.
Pelagius questioned whether St. Paul's Letter to the Romans really taught that all human beings sinned "in Adam" (Rom 5:12) and that concupiscence, suffering and death were a consequence of the Fall.22 Since he denied that Adam's sin was transmitted to his descendants, he regarded newborn infants as innocent. Pelagius promised infants who died unbaptized entry into "eternal life" (not, however, into the "kingdom of God" [Jn 3:5]), reasoning that God would not condemn to hell those who were not personally guilty of sin.23
16. In countering Pelagius, Augustine was led to state that infants who die without baptism are consigned to hell.24 He appealed to the Lord's precept, John 3:5, and to the church's liturgical practice.
Why are little children brought to the baptismal font, especially infants in danger of death, if not to assure them entrance into the kingdom of God? Why are they subjected to exorcisms and exsufflations if they do not have to be delivered from the devil?25 Why are they born again if they do not need to be made new?
Liturgical practice confirms the church's belief that all inherit Adam's sin and must be transferred from the power of darkness into the kingdom of light (Col 1:13).26 There is only one baptism, the same for infants and adults, and it is for the forgiveness of sins.27 If little children are baptized, then, it is because they are sinners. Although they clearly are not guilty of personal sin, according to Romans 5:12 (in the Latin translation available to Augustine), they have sinned "in Adam."28 "Why did Christ die for them if they are not guilty?"29 All need Christ as their savior.
17. In Augustine's judgment, Pelagius undermined belief in Jesus Christ, the one mediator (1 Tin 2:5), and in the need for the saving grace he won for us on the cross. Christ came to save sinners. He is the "Great Physician" who offers even infants the medicine of baptism to save them from the inherited sin of Adam.30
The sole remedy for the sin of Adam, passed on to everyone through human generation, is baptism. Those who are not baptized cannot enter the kingdom of God. At the judgment, those who do not enter the kingdom (Mt 25:34) will be condemned to hell (Mt 25:41). There is no "middle ground" between heaven and hell. "There is no middle place left, where you can put babies."31 Anyone "who is not with Christ must be with the devil."32
18. God is just. If he condemns baptized children to hell, it is because they are sinners. Although these infants are punished in hell, they will suffer only the "mildest condemnation" (mitissima poena),33 "the lightest punishment of all,"34 for there are diverse punishments in proportion to the guilt of the sinner.35 These infants were unable to help themselves, but there is no injustice in their condemnation because all belong to "the same mass," the mass destined for perdition. God does no injustice to those who are not elected, for all deserve hell.36
Why is it that some are vessels of wrath and others vessels of mercy? Augustine admits that he "cannot find a satisfactory and worthy explanation." He can only exclaim with St. Paul, "How inscrutable [God's] judgments and untraceable his ways!"37 Rather than condemn divine authority, he gives a restrictive interpretation of God's universal salvific will.38 The church believes that if anyone is redeemed, it is only by God's unmerited mercy; but if anyone is condemned, it is by his well-merited judgment. We shall discover the justice of God's will in the next world.39
19. The Council of Carthage of 418 rejected the teaching of Pelagius. It condemned the opinion that infants "do not contract from Adam any trace of original sin, which must be expiated by the bath of regeneration that leads to eternal life." Positively, this council taught that "even children who of themselves cannot have yet committed any sin are truly baptized for the remission of sins, so that by regeneration they may be cleansed from what they contracted through generation."40
It was also added that there is no "intermediate or other happy dwelling place for children who have left this life without baptism, without which they cannot enter the kingdom of heaven, that is, eternal life."41 This council did not, however, explicitly endorse all aspects of Augustine's stern view about the destiny of infants who die without baptism.
20. So great was Augustine's authority in the West, however, that the Latin fathers (e.g., Jerome, Fulgentius, Avitus of Vienne and Gregory the Great) did adopt his opinion. Gregory the Great asserts that God condemns even those with only original sin on their souls; even infants who have never sinned by their own will must go to "everlasting torments." He cites Job 14:4-5 (LXX), John 3:5 and Ephesians 2:3 on our condition at birth as "children of wrath."42
1.4. The Medieval Scholastics
21. Augustine was the point of reference for Latin theologians throughout the Middle Ages on this matter. Anselm of Canterbury is a good example: He believes that little children who die without baptism are damned on account of original sin and in keeping with God's justice.43
The common doctrine was summarized by Hugh of St. Victor: Infants who die unbaptized cannot be saved because (1) they have not received the sacrament, and (2) they cannot make a personal act of faith that would supply for the sacrament.44
This doctrine implies that one needs to be justified during one's earthly life in order to enter eternal life after death. Death puts an end to the possibility of choosing to accept or reject grace, that is, to adhere to God or turn away from him; after death, a person's fundamental dispositions before God receive no further modification.
22. But most of the later medieval authors from Peter Abelard on underline the goodness of God and interpret Augustine's "mildest punishment" as the privation of the beatific vision (carentia visionis Dei), without hope of obtaining it, but with no additional penalties.45 This teaching, which modified the strict opinion of St. Augustine, was disseminated by Peter Lombard: Little children suffer no penalty except the privation of the vision of God.46
This position led the theological reflection of the 13th century to assign unbaptized infants a destiny essentially different from that of the saints in heaven, but also partly different from that of the reprobate, with whom they are nonetheless associated. This did not prevent the medieval theologians from holding the existence of two (and not three) possible outcomes for human existence: the happiness of heaven for the saints and the privation of this celestial happiness for the damned and for infants who died unbaptized.
In the developments of medieval doctrine, the loss of the beatific vision (poena damni) was understood to be the proper punishment for original sin, whereas the "torments of perpetual hell" constituted the punishment for mortal sins actually committed.47 In the Middle Ages the ecclesiastical magisterium affirmed more than once that those "who die in mortal sin" and those who die "with original sin only" receive "different punishments."48
23. Because children below the age of reason did not commit actual sin, theologians came to the common view that these unbaptized children feel no pain at all or even that they enjoy a full natural happiness through their union with God in all natural goods (Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus).49
The contribution of this last theological thesis consists especially in its recognition of an authentic joy among children who die without sacramental baptism: They possess a true form of union with God proportionate to their condition. The thesis relies on a certain way of conceptualizing the relationship between the natural and the supernatural orders, and in particular the orientation to the supernatural; it must not be confused, however, with the later development of the idea of "pure nature."
Thomas Aquinas, for instance, insisted that faith alone allows us to know that the supernatural end of human life consists in the glory of the saints, that is, in participation in the life of the triune God through the beatific vision. Since this supernatural end transcends natural human knowledge and since unbaptized children lack the sacrament that would have given them the seed of such supernatural knowledge, Aquinas concluded that infants who die without baptism do not know what they are deprived of and hence do not suffer from the privation of the beatific vision.50
Even when they adopted such a view, theologians considered the privation of the beatific vision as an affliction ("punishment") within the divine economy. The theological doctrine of a "natural beatitude" (and the absence of any suffering) can be understood as an attempt to account for God's justice and mercy regarding children who did not commit any actual fault, thus giving more weight to God's mercy than in Augustine's view. The theologians who held this thesis of a natural happiness for children who died without baptism manifest a very lively sense of the gratuity of salvation and of the mystery of God's will that human thought cannot fully grasp.
24. The theologians who taught in one form or another that unbaptized children are deprived of the vision of God generally held at the same time a double affirmation: (a) God wills that everyone be saved, and (b) God, who wills that all be saved, wills equally the dispensations and the means that he himself has established for this salvation and that he has made known to us by his revelation. The second affirmation, of itself, does not exclude other dispositions of the divine economy (as is clear, for example, in the witness of the Holy Innocents).
As for the expression limbo of infants, it was forged at the turn of the 12th-13th century to name the "resting place" of such infants (the "border" of the inferior region). Theologians could discuss this question, however, without using the word limbo. Their doctrines should not be confused with the use of the word limbo.
25. The main affirmation of these doctrines is that those who were not capable of a free act by which they could consent to grace and who died without having been regenerated by the sacrament of baptism are deprived of the vision of God because of original sin, which they inherit through human generation.
1.5. The Modern) Post- Tridentine Era
26. Augustine's thought enjoyed a revival in the 16th century and with it his theory regarding the fate of unbaptized infants, as Robert Bellarmine, for example, bears witness.51 One consequence of this revival of Augustinianism was Jansenism. Together with Catholic theologians of the Augustinian school, the Jansenists vigorously opposed the theory of limbo.
During this period the popes (Paul III, Benedict XIV, Clement XIII)52 defended the right of Catholics to teach Augustine's stern view that infants dying with original sin alone are damned and punished with the perpetual torment of the fire of hell, though with the "mildest pain" (Augustine) compared with what was suffered by adults who were punished for their mortal sins. On the other hand, when the Jansenist Synod of Pistoia (1786) denounced the medieval theory of limbo, Pius VI defended the right of the Catholic schools to teach that those who died with the guilt of original sin alone are punished with the lack of the beatific vision ("punishment of loss"), but not sensible pains (the punishment of "fire").
In the bull Auctorem Fidei (1794), the pope condemned as "false, rash, injurious to the Catholic schools" the Jansenist teaching "which rejects as a Pelagian fable [fabula pelagiana] that place in the lower regions (which the faithful call the limbo of children) in which the souls of those departing with the sole guilt of original sin are punished with the punishment of the condemned, without the punishment of fire, just as if whoever removes the punishment of fire thereby introduces that middle place and state free of guilt and of punishment between the kingdom of God and eternal damnation of which the Pelagians idly talk."53
Papal interventions during this period, then, protected the freedom of the Catholic schools to wrestle with this question. They did not endorse the theory of limbo as a doctrine of faith. Limbo, however, was the common Catholic teaching until the mid-20th century.
1.6. From the Time of Vatican I to Vatican II
27. Prior to the First Vatican Council and again prior to the Second Vatican Council, there was a strong interest in some quarters in defining Catholic doctrine on this matter. This interest was evident in the revised schema of the dogmatic constitution De Doctrina Catholica, prepared for the First Vatican Council (but not voted upon by the council), which presented the destiny of children who died without baptism as between that of the damned, on the one hand, and that of the souls in purgatory and the blessed, on the other: "Etiam qui cum solo originali peccato mortem obeunt, beata Dei visione in perpetuum carebunt."54
In the 20th century, however, theologians sought the right to imagine new solutions, including the possibility that Christ's full salvation reaches these infants.55
28. In the preparatory phase of Vatican II, there was a desire on the part of some that the council affirm the common doctrine that unbaptized infants cannot attain the beatific vision and thereby close the question. The Central Preparatory Commission, which was aware of many arguments against the traditional doctrine and of the need to propose a solution in better accordance with the developing sensus fidelium, opposed this move.
Because it was thought that theological reflection on the issue was not mature enough, the question was not included in the council's agenda; it did not enter into the council's deliberations and was left open for further investigation.56
The question raised a number of problems whose outcome was debated among theologians, in particular: the status of the church's traditional teaching concerning children who die without baptism; the absence of an explicit indication in Holy Scripture on the subject; the connection between the natural order and the supernatural vocation of human beings; original sin and the universal saving will of God; and the "substitutions" for sacramental baptism that can be invoked for young children.
29. The Catholic Church's belief that baptism is necessary for salvation was powerfully expressed in the Decree for the Jacobites at the Council of Florence in 1442: "There is no other way to come to the aid [of little children] than the sacrament of baptism by which they are snatched from the power of the devil and adopted as children of God."57 This teaching implies a very vivid perception of the divine favor displayed in the sacramental economy instituted by Christ; the church does not know of any other means which would certainly give little children access to eternal life.
However, the church has also traditionally recognized some substitutions for baptism of water (which is the sacramental incorporation into the mystery of Christ dead and risen), namely, baptism of blood (incorporation into Christ by witness of martyrdom for Christ) and baptism of desire (incorporation into Christ by the desire or longing for sacramental baptism).
During the 20th century, some theologians, developing certain more ancient theological theses, proposed to recognize for little children either some kind of baptism of blood (by taking into consideration the suffering and death of these infants) or some kind of baptism of desire (by invoking an "unconscious desire" for baptism in these infants oriented toward justification or the desire of the church).58
The proposals invoking some kind of baptism of desire or baptism of blood, however, involved certain difficulties. On the one hand, the adult's act of desire for baptism can hardly be attributed to children. The little child is scarcely capable of supplying the fully free and responsible personal act which would constitute a substitution for sacramental baptism; such a fully free and responsible act is rooted in a judgment of reason and cannot be properly achieved before the human person has reached a sufficient or appropriate use of reason (aetas discretionis: "age of discretion").
On the other hand, it is difficult to understand how the church could properly "supply" for unbaptized infants. The case of sacramental baptism, instead, is quite different because sacramental baptism administered to infants obtains grace in virtue of that which is specifically proper to the sacrament as such, that is, the certain gift of regeneration by the power of Christ himself. That is why Pope Pius XII, recalling the importance of sacramental baptism, explained in the "Allocution to Italian Midwives" in 1958:
"The state of grace is absolutely necessary for salvation: Without it supernatural happiness, the beatific vision of God, cannot be attained. In an adult an act of love may suffice to obtain him sanctifying grace and so supply for the lack of baptism; to the child still unborn or newly born this way is not open."59
This gave rise among theologians to a renewed reflection on the dispositions of infants with respect to the reception of divine grace, on the possibility of an extrasacramental configuration to Christ and on the maternal mediation of the church.
30. It is equally necessary to note among the debated questions with a bearing on this matter that of the gratuity of the supernatural order. Before the Second Vatican Council, in other circumstances and regarding other questions, Pius XII had vigorously brought this to the consciousness of the church by explaining that one destroys the gratuity of the supernatural order if one asserts that God could not create intelligent beings without ordaining and calling them to the beatific vision.60
The goodness and justice of God do not imply that grace is necessarily or "automatically" given. Among theologians, then, reflection on the destiny of unbaptized infants involved from that time onward a renewed consideration of the absolute gratuity of grace and of the ordination of all human beings to Christ and to the redemption that he won for us.
31. Without responding directly to the question of the destiny of unbaptized infants, the Second Vatican Council marked out many paths to guide theological reflection. The council recalled many times the universality of God's saving will which extends to all people (1 Tm 2:4).61 All "share a common destiny, namely God. His providence, evident goodness and saving designs extend to all humankind" (Nostra Aetate, 1, cf. Lumen Gentium, 16).
In a more particular vein, presenting a conception of human life founded on the dignity of the human being created in the image of God, the constitution Gaudium et Spes recalls that "[h]uman dignity rests above all on the fact that humanity is called to communion with God," specifying that " [t]he invitation to converse with God is addressed to men and women as soon as they are born" (No. 19).
This same constitution proclaims with vigor that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of the human being take on light. Furthermore, there is the renowned statement of the council, which asserted, "Since Christ died for all, and since all are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery" (No. 22). Although the council did not expressly apply this teaching to children who die without baptism, these passages open a way to account for hope in their favor.62
1.7. Issues of a Hermeneutical Nature
32. The study of history shows an evolution and a development of Catholic teaching concerning the destiny of infants who die without baptism. This progress engages some foundational doctrinal principles which remain permanent and some secondary elements of unequal value. In effect, revelation does not communicate directly in an explicit fashion knowledge of God's plan for unbaptized children, but it enlightens the church regarding the principles of faith which must guide her thought and her practice.
A theological reading of the history of Catholic teaching up to Vatican II shows in particular that three main affirmations which belong to the faith of the church appear at the core of the problem of the fate of unbaptized infants. (i) God wants all human beings to be saved. (ii) This salvation is given only through participation in Christ's paschal mystery, that is, through baptism for the forgiveness of sins, either sacramental or in some other way. Human beings, including infants, cannot be saved apart from the grace of Christ poured out by the Holy Spirit. (iii) Infants will not enter the kingdom of God without being freed from original sin by redemptive grace.
33. The history of theology and of magisterial teaching show in particular a development concerning the manner of understanding the universal saving will of God. The theological tradition of the past (antiquity, the Middle Ages, the beginning of modern times), in particular the Augustinian tradition, often presents what by comparison with modern theological developments would seem to be a "restrictive" conception of the universality of God's saving will.63
In theological research, the perception of the divine will to save as "quantitatively" universal is relatively recent. At the level of the magisterium this larger perception was progressively affirmed. Without trying to date it exactly, one can observe that it appeared very clearly in the 19th century, especially in the teaching of Pius IX on the possible salvation of those who, without fault on their part, were unaware of the Catholic faith: Those who "lead a virtuous and just life, can, with the aid of divine light and grace, attain eternal life; for God, who understands perfectly, scrutinizes and knows the minds, souls, thoughts and habits of all, in his very great goodness and patience, will not permit anyone who is not guilty of a voluntary fault to be punished with eternal torments."64 This integration and maturation in Catholic doctrine meanwhile gave rise to a renewed reflection on the possible ways of salvation for unbaptized infants.
34. In the church's tradition, the affirmation that children who died unbaptized are deprived of the beatific vision has for a long time been "common doctrine." This common doctrine followed upon a certain way of reconciling the received principles of revelation, but it did not possess the certitude of a statement of faith or the same certitude as other affirmations whose rejection would entail the denial of a divinely revealed dogma or of a teaching proclaimed by a definitive act of the magisterium. The study of the history of the church's reflection on this subject shows that it is necessary to make distinctions.
In this summary we distinguish first statements of faith and what pertains to the faith; second, common doctrine; and third, theological opinion.
35. a) The Pelagian understanding of the access of unbaptized infants to "eternal life" must be considered as contrary to Catholic faith.
36. b) The affirmation that "the punishment for original sin is the loss of the beatific vision," formulated by Innocent III,65 pertains to the faith: Original sin is of itself an impediment to the beatific vision. Grace is necessary in order to be purified of original sin and to be raised to communion with God so as to be able to enter into eternal life and enjoy the vision of God.
Historically, the common doctrine applied this affirmation to the fate of unbaptized infants and concluded that these infants lack the beatific vision. But Pope Innocent's teaching, in its content of faith, does not necessarily imply that infants who die without sacramental baptism are deprived of grace and condemned to the loss of the beatific vision; it allows us to hope that God, who wants all to be saved, provides some merciful remedy for their purification from original sin and their access to the beatific vision.
37. c) In the documents of the magisterium in the Middle Ages the mention of "different punishments" for those who die in actual mortal sin or with original sin only ('As for the souls of those who die in mortal sin or with original sin only, they go down immediately to hell, to be punished, however, with different punishments")66 must be interpreted according to the common teaching of the time. Historically, these affirmations have certainly been applied to unbaptized infants, with the conclusion that these infants suffer punishment for original sin.
It must be observed however that in a general way the focus of these church pronouncements was not on the lack of salvation for unbaptized infants but on the immediacy of the particular judgment after death and the assignment of souls to heaven or hell. These magisterial statements do not oblige us to think that these infants necessarily die with original sin, so that there would be no way of salvation for them.
38. d) The bull Auctorem Fidei of Pope Pius VI is not a dogmatic definition of the existence of limbo: The papal bull confines itself to rejecting the Jansenist charge that the "limbo" taught by scholastic theologians is identical with the "eternal life" promised to unbaptized infants by the ancient Pelagians. Pius VI did not condemn the Jansenists because they denied limbo, but because they held that the defenders of limbo were guilty of the heresy of Pelagius. By maintaining the freedom of the Catholic schools to propose different solutions to the problem of the fate of unbaptized infants, the Holy See defended the common teaching as an acceptable and legitimate option without endorsing it.
39. e) Pius XII's "Allocution to Italian Midwives,"67 which states that apart from baptism "there is no other means of communicating [supernatural] life to the child who has not yet the use of reason," expressed the church's faith regarding the necessity of grace to attain the beatific vision and the necessity of baptism as the means to receive such grace.68 The specification that little children (unlike adults) are unable to act on their own behalf, that is, are incapable of an act of reason and freedom that could "supply for baptism," did not constitute a pronouncement on the content of current theological theories and did not prohibit the theological search for other ways of salvation. Pius XII rather recalled the limits within which the debate must take place and reasserted firmly the moral obligation to provide baptism to infants in danger of death.
40. In summary: The affirmation that infants who die without baptism suffer the privation of the beatific vision has long been the common doctrine of the church, which must be distinguished from the faith of the church. As for the theory that the privation of the beatific vision is their sole punishment to the exclusion of any other pain, this is a theological opinion despite its long acceptance in the West. The particular theological thesis concerning a "natural happiness" sometimes ascribed to these infants likewise constitutes a theological opinion.
41. Therefore, besides the theory of limbo (which remains a possible theological opinion), there can be other ways to integrate and safeguard the principles of the faith grounded in Scripture: the creation of the human being in Christ and his vocation to communion with God; the universal salvific will of God; the transmission and the consequences of original sin; the necessity of grace in order to enter into the kingdom of God and attain the vision of God; the uniqueness and universality of the saving mediation of Christ Jesus; and the necessity of baptism for salvation.
These other ways are not achieved by modifying the principles of the faith or by elaborating hypothetical theories; rather, they seek an integration and coherent reconciliation of the principles of the faith under the guidance of the ecclesial magisterium by giving more weight to God's universal salvific will and to solidarity in Christ (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 22) in order to account for the hope that infants dying without baptism could enjoy eternal life in the beatific vision.
In keeping with a methodological principle that what is less known must be investigated by way of what is better known, it appears that the point of departure for considering the destiny of these children should be the salvific will of God, the mediation of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit, and a consideration of the condition of children who receive baptism and are saved through the action of the church in the name of Christ. The destiny of unbaptized infants remains, however, a limit case as regards theological inquiry: Theologians should keep in mind the apophatic perspective of the Greek fathers.
2. Inquirere Was Domini: Seeking to Discern God's Ways —Theological Principles
42. Since the theme under consideration concerns a topic for which no explicit answer is directly forthcoming from revelation as embodied in sacred Scripture and tradition, the Catholic believer must have recourse to certain underlying theological principles which the church, and specifically the magisterium, the guardian of the deposit of the faith, has articulated with the assistance of the Holy Spirit. As Vatican II affirms: "In Catholic doctrine there exists an order or 'hierarchy' of truths since they vary in their relation to the foundation of the Christian faith" (Unitatis Redintegratio, 11).
No human being can ultimately save him/herself. Salvation comes only from God the Father through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit. This fundamental truth (of the "absolute necessity" of God's saving act toward human beings) is unfolded in history through the mediation of the church and its sacramental ministry. The ordo tractandi we will adopt here follows the ordo salutis, with one exception: We have put the anthropological dimension between the Trinitarian and the ecclesiological-sacramental dimensions.
2.1. The Universal Salvific Will of God as Realized Through the Unique Mediation of Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit
43. In the context of the discussion on the destiny of those infants who die without baptism, the mystery of the universal salvific will of God is a fundamental and central principle. The depth of this mystery is reflected in the paradox of divine love which is manifested as both universal and preferential.
44. In the Old Testament, God is called the savior of the nation of Israel (cf. Ex 6:6; Dt 7:8; 13:5; 32:15; 43:29; Is 41:14; 43:14; 44:24; Ps 78; 1 Mc 4:30). But his preferential love for Israel has a universal scope, which extends to individuals (cf. 2 Sm 22:18, 44, 49; Ps 25:5; 27:1) and all human beings: "Thou lovest all things that exist, and hast loathing for none of the things which thou hast made, for thou wouldst not have made anything if thou hast hated it" (Wis 11:24).
Through Israel the gentile nations will find salvation (cf. Is 2:1-4; 42:1; 60:1-14). "I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth" (Is 49:6).
45. This preferential and universal love of God is intertwined and realized in a unique and exemplary fashion in Jesus Christ, who is the unique savior of all (cf. Acts 4:12), but particularly of whoever becomes low or humble (tapeinosei) like the "little ones." Indeed, as one who is gentle or humble in heart (cf. Mt 11:29), Jesus maintains a mysterious affinity and solidarity with them (cf. Mt 18:3-5; 10:40-42; 25:40, 45).
Jesus asserts that the care of these little ones is entrusted to the angels of God (cf. Mt 18:3-5). "So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish" (Mt 18:14). This mystery of his will, according to the good pleasure of the Father,69 is revealed through the Son70 and dispensed by the gift of the Holy Spirit.71
46. The universality of the saving will of God the Father as realized through the unique and universal mediation of his Son, Jesus Christ, is forcefully expressed in the First Letter to Timothy:
"This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our savior, who wills (thelel) all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, the testimony to which was borne at the proper time" (1 Tm 2:3-6).
The emphatic reiteration of all (vv. 1, 4, 6) and the justification of this universality on the basis of the uniqueness of God and of his mediator, who himself is a man, suggests that nobody is excluded from this salvific will. Insofar as it is the object of prayer (cf. 1 Tin 2:1), this salvific will (thelema) refers to a will which is sincere on the part of God but at times is resisted by human beings.72 Therefore we need to pray to our Father in heaven that his will (thelema) may be done on earth as it is in heaven (cf. Mt 6:10).
47. The mystery of this will, revealed to Paul as "the very least of all the saints" (Eph 3:8f), has its roots in the Father's purpose to make his only Son not just "the firstborn among many brethren" (Rom 8:29), but also "the firstborn of all creation... [and] from the dead" (Col 1:15, 18). This revelation allows one to discover in the mediation of the Son universal and cosmic dimensions which overcome all divisions (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 13).
With respect to the universality of humankind, the mediation of the Son surmounts (i) the various cultural, social and gender divisions: "There is neither Jew nor Greek... neither slave nor free... neither male nor female" (Gal 3:28); and (ii) the divisions caused by sin, internal (cf. Rom 7) as well as interpersonal (cf. Eph 2:14): "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man's obedience many will be made righteous" (Rom 5:19).
With respect to cosmic divisions, Paul explains that "for in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace by the blood of his cross" (Col 1:19-20). Both dimensions are brought together in the Letter to the Ephesians (1:7-10): "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses... according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ... to unite all things in [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth."
48. Certainly we do not see yet the fulfillment of this mystery of salvation, "for in this hope we were saved" (Rom 8:24). The Holy Spirit indeed testifies that it is not yet realized, and at the same time encourages Christians to pray and to hope for the final resurrection: "We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.... Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words" (Rom 8:22f, 26). So the groaning of the Spirit not only helps our prayers but encompasses so to speak the pains of all adults, of all children, of the whole of creation.73
49. The Synod of Quiercy (853) asserts: "Almighty God wishes all men without exception to be saved [1 Tin 2:4], although not all are saved. The fact that some are saved, however, is a gift of the Savior, while the fact that others perish is the fault of those who perish."74
Spelling out the positive implications of this statement as regards the universal solidarity of all in the mystery of Jesus Christ, the synod further asserts that "as there is no man who was, is or will be whose nature was not assumed in him [the Lord Jesus Christ], likewise there is no one who was, is or will be for whom he did not suffer, even though not everyone [factually] is redeemed by his passion."75
50. This Christocentric conviction has found expression all through Catholic tradition. St. Irenaeus, for instance, quotes the Pauline text asserting that Christ will return "to unite all things in him" (Eph 1:10) and that every knee should bow to him in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.76 On his part, St. Thomas Aquinas, once again basing himself on the Pauline text, has this to say: "Christ is the perfect mediator of God and men by reason of his having reconciled through his death the human race with God."77
51. The documents of Vatican II not only quote the Pauline text in its entirety (cf. Lumen Gentium, 60, Ad Gentes, 7), but also refer to it (cf. Lumen Gentium, 49), and furthermore repeatedly use the designation unicus mediator Christus (ibid., 8, 14, 62). This core affirmation of Christological faith also finds expression in the postconciliar papal magisterium: "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved' (Acts 4:12). This statement... has a universal value, since for all people... salvation can only come from Jesus Christ."78
52. The declaration Dominus Iesus succinctly sums up the Catholic conviction and attitude: "It must be firmly believed as a truth of Catholic faith that the universal salvific will of the one and triune God is offered and accomplished once and for all in the mystery of the incarnation, death and resurrection of the Son of God."79
2.2. Universality of Sin and the Universal Need of Salvation
53. The universal salvific will of God through Jesus Christ, in a mysterious relationship with the church, is directed to all humans, who according to the faith of the church are sinners in need of salvation. Already in the Old Testament the all-pervading nature of human sin is mentioned in almost every book.
The Book of Genesis affirms that sin did not find its origin with God but with human beings, because God created everything and saw that it was good (cf. Gn 1:31). From the moment the human race began to increase on the earth, God had to reckon with the sinfulness of humankind: "The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." He was even "sorry that he had made man on the earth" and ordered a flood to destroy every living thing except Noah, who found favor in his eyes (cf. Go 6:5-7). But even the flood did not change the human inclination to sin: "I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth" (Gn 8:21).
The Old Testament writers are convinced that sin is deeply rooted and pervasive in humanity (cf. Prv 20:9; Eccl 7:20, 29). Hence the frequent petitions for God's indulgence, as in Psalm 143:2: "Enter not into judgment with thy servant; for no man living is righteous before thee" or in the prayer of Solomon:
"If they sin against thee — for there is no man who does not sin... if they repent with all their mind and with all their heart... then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place their prayer... and forgive thy people who have sinned against thee" (1 Kgs 8:46ff).
There are some texts which speak of the sinfulness from birth. The psalmist affirms: "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me" (Ps 51:7). And the statement of Eliphaz — "What is man, that he can be clean? Or he that is born of a woman, that he can be righteous?" (Jb 15:14; cf. 25:4) — is in agreement with Job's own convictions (cf. Jb 14:1, 4) and those of other biblical writers (cf. Ps 58:3; Is 48:8).
In wisdom literature there is even a beginning of reflection on the effects of the sin of the ancestors Adam and Eve on the whole of humankind: "But through the devil's envy death entered the world, and those who belong to his party experience it" (Wis 2:24); "from a woman sin had its beginning, and because of her we all die" (Sir 25:24).80
54. For Paul, the universality of the redemption brought by Jesus Christ finds its counterpart in the universality of sin. When Paul in his Letter to the Romans asserts "that all, both Jews and gentiles, are under the power of sin" (Rom 3:9)81 and that no one can be excluded from this universal verdict, he naturally bases this on Scripture:
"As it is written: 'None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands, no one seeks for God. All have turned aside, together they have gone wrong; no one does good, not even one"' (Rom 3:10-12, quoting Eccl 7:20 and Ps 14:1-3, which is identical to Ps 53:1-3).
On the one side, all human beings are sinners and need to be delivered through the redemptive death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the new Adam. Not the works of the law, but only faith in Jesus Christ can save humanity, Jews and gentiles alike. On the other side, the sinful condition of humankind is linked to the sin of the first man, Adam. This solidarity with the first man, Adam, is expressed in two Pauline texts: 1 Corinthians 15:21 and especially Romans 5:12:
"Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because [Gr. eph'ho: other possible translations "on the basis of which" or "with the result that"]82 all men sinned."
In this anacolouth, the primary causality for the sinful and mortal condition of humankind is ascribed to Adam, no matter how one understands the phrase eph'ho. The universal causality of Adam's sin is presupposed in Romans 5:15a, 16a, 17a, 18a and clearly expressed in 5:19a: "by one man's disobedience many were made sinners."
However, Paul never explains how Adam's sin is transmitted. Against Pelagius, who thought that Adam influenced humanity by giving it a bad example, Augustine objected that Adam's sin was transmitted by propagation, or heredity, and so brought the doctrine of original sin to its classical expression.83 Under Augustine's influence, the Western church almost unanimously interpreted Romans 5:12 in the sense of hereditary "sin."84
55. Following this, the Council of Trent in its fifth session (1546) defined: "If anyone asserts that Adam's sin harmed only him and not his descendants and that the holiness and justice received from God which he lost was lost only for him and not for us also; or that, stained by the sin of disobedience, he transmitted to all humankind only death and the sufferings of the body but not sin as well which is the death of the soul, anathema sit. For he contradicts the words of the apostle: 'Sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so [death] spread to all as all men sinned in him' [Rom 5:12 Vulgate]."85
56. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it: "The doctrine of original sin is, so to speak, the 'reverse side' of the good news that Jesus is the savior of all men, that all need salvation and that salvation is offered to all through Christ. The church, which has the mind of Christ, knows very well that we cannot tamper with the revelation of original sin without undermining the mystery of Christ."86
2.3. The Need for the Church
57. Catholic tradition has constantly affirmed that the church is necessary for salvation as the historical mediation of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. This conviction found its classical expression in the adage of St. Cyprian: "Salus extra ecclesiam non est."87
The Second Vatican Council has reiterated this faith conviction: "Basing itself on Scripture and tradition, it [the council] teaches that the church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: The one Christ is mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body, which is the church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and baptism (cf. Mk 16:16; Jn 3:5), and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the church, which men enter through baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it" (Lumen Gentium, 14).
The council expounded the mystery of the church at length: "The church, in Christ, is in the nature of [a] sacrament — a sign and instrument, that is, of communion with God and of the unity among all men" (Lumen Gentium, 1); "just as Christ carried out the work of redemption in poverty and oppression, so the church is called to follow the same path if she is to communicate the fruits of salvation to men" (ibid., 8). "Rising from the dead (cf. Rom 6:9) he [Christ] sent his life-giving Spirit upon his disciples and through him set up his body, which is the church, as the universal sacrament of salvation" (ibid., 48).
What is striking in these quotations is the universal extent of the church's mediating role in ministering God's salvation: "the unity among all men," "salvation of [all] men," "universal sacrament of salvation."
58. In the face of new problems and situations and of an exclusive interpretation of the adage "salus extra ecclesiam non est,"88 the magisterium in recent times has articulated a more nuanced understanding as to the manner in which a saving relationship with the church can be realized. The allocution of Pope Pius IX, Singulari Quadam (1854) clearly states the issues involved:
"It must, of course, be held as a matter of faith that outside the apostolic Roman church no one can be saved, that the church is the only ark of salvation and that whoever does not enter it will perish in the flood. On the other hand, it must likewise be held as certain that those who live in ignorance of the true religion, if such ignorance be invincible, are not subject to any guilt in this matter before the eyes of the Lord."89
59. The letter of the Holy Office to the archbishop of Boston (1949) offers further specifications. "To gain eternal salvation, it is not always required that a person be incorporated in reality (reapse) as a member of the church, but it is necessary that one belong to it at least in desire and longing (voto et desiderio). It is not always necessary that this desire be explicit as it is with catechumens. When one is invincibly ignorant, God also accepts an implicit desire, so called because it is contained in the good disposition of soul by which a person wants his or her will to be conformed to God's will."90
60. The universal salvific will of God, realized through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit, which includes the church as the universal sacrament of salvation, finds expression in Vatican II: "All men are called to this Catholic unity which prefigures and promotes universal peace. And in different ways to it belong or are related: all the Catholic faithful, others who believe in Christ and finally all mankind called by God's grace to salvation" (Lumen Gentium, 13).
That the unique and universal mediation of Jesus Christ is realized in the context of a relationship with the church is further reiterated by the postconciliar papal magisterium. Speaking of those who have not had the opportunity to come to know or accept Gospel revelation — even in their case, the encyclical Redemptoris Missio has this to say: "Salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace... which has a mysterious relationship to the church."91
2.4. Necessity of Sacramental Baptism
61. God the Father intends to configure all human beings to Christ by the Holy Spirit, who transforms and empowers them by his grace. Ordinarily, this configuration to Jesus Christ takes place through sacramental baptism, whereby one is conformed to Christ, receives the Holy Spirit, is liberated from sin and becomes a member of the church.
62. The numerous baptismal statements in the New Testament in their variety articulate the different dimensions of the significance of baptism as understood by the early Christian community. In the first place, baptism is designated as the forgiveness of sins, as cleansing (cf. Eph 5:26) or as a sprinkling which cleanses the heart from an evil conscience (cf. Heb 10:22; 1 Pt 3:21). "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38; cf. Acts 22:16). The baptized are thus configured to Jesus Christ: "We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life" (Rom 6:4).
63. Furthermore, the activity of the Holy Spirit in connection with baptism is repeatedly referred to (cf. Ti 3:5). It is the belief of the church that the Holy Spirit is imparted with baptism (cf. 1 Cor 6:11; Ti 3:5). The risen Christ is active through his Spirit, who makes us children of God (cf. Rom 8:14), confident to call God Father (cf. Gal 4:6).
64. Finally, there are the statements about being "added" to the people of God in the context of baptism, of being baptized "into one body" (Acts 2:41). Baptism results in the incorporation of the human person into the people of God, the body of Christ and the spiritual temple. Paul speaks of "being baptized into one body" (1 Cor 12:13). Luke, instead, of "being added" to the church through baptism (Acts 2:41). Through baptism, the believer is not only an individual but becomes a member of the people of God. He or she becomes a member of the church, which Peter calls "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people" (1 Pt 2:9).
65. The tradition of conferring sacramental baptism is extended to all, even to infants. Among the New Testament testimonies of Christian baptism in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, there are instances of "household baptisms" (cf. Acts 16:15; 16:33; 18:8), which possibly included children. The ancient praxis of baptizing children,92 endorsed by the fathers and the magisterium of the church, is accepted as an essential part of the faith understanding of the Catholic Church.
The Council of Trent will affirm: "In accordance with apostolic tradition, even children who of themselves cannot have yet committed any sin are truly baptized for the remission of sins, so that by regeneration they may be cleansed from what they contracted through generation. For 'unless one is born of water and the Spirit, one cannot enter the kingdom of God [Jn 3:5]."'93
66. The necessity of the sacrament of baptism is proclaimed and professed as integral to the Christian faith understanding. On the basis of the command as found in Matthew 28:19ff and Mark 16:15 and of the prescription laid down in John 3:5,94 the Christian community has from the earliest time believed in the necessity of baptism for salvation.
While considering sacramental baptism necessary inasmuch as it is the ordinary way established by Jesus Christ to configure human beings to himself, the church has never taught the "absolute necessity" of sacramental baptism for salvation; there are other avenues whereby the configuration with Christ can be realized. Already in the early Christian community it was accepted that martyrdom, the "baptism of blood," was a substitute for sacramental baptism. Furthermore, there was the acknowledgment of the baptism of desire.
In this regard the words of Thomas Aquinas are pertinent:
"The sacrament of baptism may be wanting to someone in two ways. First, both in reality and in desire; as is the case with those who neither are baptized, nor wish to be baptized.... Second, the sacrament of baptism may be wanting to anyone in reality but not in desire.... Such a man can obtain salvation without being actually baptized on account of his desire for baptism."95
The Council of Trent acknowledges "baptism of desire" as a way whereby one can be justified without the actual reception of the sacrament of baptism: 'After the promulgation of the Gospel, this transition [from sin to justice] cannot take place without the bath of regeneration or the desire for it for as it is written: 'Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, one cannot enter the kingdom of God (Jn 3:5)."'96
67. The Christian faith affirmation of the necessity of sacramental baptism for salvation cannot be depleted of its existential significance by being reduced to a merely theoretical affirmation. On the other hand, God's freedom over the saving means given by him must be equally respected. Consequently, one must avoid any attempt to oppose sacramental baptism, the baptism of desire and baptism of blood as antithetical. They are but expressions of the creative polarities within the realization of God's universal salvific will on behalf of humanity, which include both a real possibility of salvation and a salvific dialogue in freedom with the human person.
It is precisely this dynamism which impels the church, as the universal sacrament of salvation, to summon everyone to repentance, to faith and to sacramental baptism. This dialogue in grace is elicited only when the human person is existentially capable of a response in the concrete — which is not the case with infants. Hence the need for parents and godparents to speak on behalf of infants who are baptized. But what of infants who die without baptism?
2.5 Hope and Prayer for Universal Salvation
68. Christians are people of hope. They have set their hope "on the living God, who is the savior of all, especially of those who believe" (1 Tm 4:10). They ardently desire that all human beings, unbaptized children included, may share in God's glory and live with Christ (cf. 1 Thes 5:9-11; Rom 8:2-5; 23-35), in keeping with the recommendation of Theophylactus: "If he [our God] wants all men to be saved, you should also want it, and imitate God."97
This Christian hope is a "hope... against hope" (Rom 4:18), going far beyond any form of human hope. It takes its example from Abraham, our father in faith. Abraham put great trust in the promises that God had given him. He trusted ("hoped") in God against all human evidence or odds ("against hope"). So Christians, even when they do not see how unbaptized children can be saved, nevertheless dare to hope that God will embrace them in his saving mercy. They are also prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls them to account for the hope that is in them (cf. 1 Pt 3:15). When they meet mothers and parents in distress because their children died before or after birth without being baptized, they feel urged to explain to them why their own hope for salvation can also extend to those infants or children.98
69. Christians are people of prayer. They take to heart the admonition of Paul: "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all" (1 Tm 2:1). This universal prayer is acceptable to God, who "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth" (1 Tm 2:4), and to whose creative power "nothing is impossible" (Jb 42:2; Mk 10:27; 12:24-27; Lk 1:37). It is based on the hope that the whole creation will finally share in the glory of God (cf. Rom 8:22-27). Such a prayer is in line with St. John Chrysostom's admonition: "Imitate God. If he wants all to be saved, then it is reasonable that one should pray for all."99
3. Spes Orans — Reasons for Hope
3.1. The New Context
70. The two preceding chapters, considering the history of Christian reflection on the destiny of unbaptized infants100 and the theological principles that bear upon this issue,101 respectively, have presented a chiaroscuro. On the one hand, in many ways the underpinning Christian theological principles seem to favor the salvation of unbaptized infants in accordance with God's universal salvific will. On the other hand, however, it cannot be denied that there has been a rather longstanding doctrinal tradition (whose theological value is doubtless not definitive), which in its concern to safeguard and not compromise other truths of the Christian theological edifice, has expressed either a certain reticence in this regard or even a clear refusal to envisage the salvation of these infants.
There is a fundamental continuity in the church's reflection upon the mystery of salvation from generation to generation under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Within that mystery, the question of the eternal destiny of infants who die unbaptized is "one of the most difficult to solve in the structure of theology."102 It is a limit case where vital tenets of faith, especially the need of baptism for salvation and the universal salvific will of God, can easily appear to be in tension.
With respect for the wisdom and fidelity of those who have investigated this difficult matter before but also with a keen awareness that the magisterium of the church has specifically and perhaps providentially opted at key moments in the history of doctrine103 not to define that these infants are deprived of the beatific vision but to keep the question open, we have considered how the Spirit may be guiding the church at this point in history to reflect anew on this exceptionally delicate issue (cf. Dei Verbum, 8).
71. The Second Vatican Council called the church to read the signs of the times and to interpret them in the light of the Gospel (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 4, 11), "in order that the revealed truth may be more deeply penetrated, better understood and more suitably presented" (ibid., 44). In other words, engagement with the world for which Christ suffered, died and rose again is always for the church, which is the body of Christ, an occasion to deepen her understanding of the Lord himself and of his love, and indeed of herself, an occasion to penetrate more deeply the message of salvation entrusted to her. It is possible to identify various signs of our modern times that prompt a renewed awareness of aspects of the Gospel which particularly bear upon the question under consideration. In some ways they provide a new context for its consideration at the start of the 21st century.
72. a) The warfare and turmoil of the 20th century and the yearning of humanity for peace and unity, shown by the founding of, e.g., the United Nations, the European Union, the African Union, have helped the church to understand more deeply the importance of the theme of communion in the Gospel message and so to develop an ecclesiology of communion (cf. Lumen Gentium, 4, 9; Unitatis Redintegratio, 2; Gaudium et Spes, 12, 24).
73. b) Many people today grapple with the temptation to despair. The crisis of hope in the contemporary world leads the church to a deeper appreciation of the hope that is central to the Christian Gospel. "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call" (Eph 4:4).
Christians are particularly called today to be witnesses to hope and ministers of hope in the world (cf. Lumen Gentium, 48, 49; Gaudium et Spes, 1). The church in its universality and catholicity is the bearer of a hope that extends to all humankind, and Christians have a mission to offer that hope to everyone.
74. c) The development of global communications, graphically highlighting all the suffering in the world, has been an occasion for the church to understand God's love, mercy and compassion more profoundly, and to appreciate the primacy of charity. God is merciful, and faced with the enormity of the world's pain, we learn to trust and glorify God, "who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think" (Eph 3:20).
75. d) People everywhere are scandalized by the suffering of children and want to enable children to achieve their potential.104 In such a setting the church naturally recalls and ponders anew various New Testament texts expressing the preferential love of Jesus:
"Let the children come to me... for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 19:14; cf. Lk 18:15-16, "infants").
"Whoever receives one such in my name receives me" (Mk 9:37).
"Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 18:3).
"Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 18:4).
"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea' (Mt 18:6).
"See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven" (Mt 18:10).
So the church renews her commitment to show Christ's own love and care for children (cf. Lumen Gentium, 11; Gaudium et Spes, 48, 50).
76. e) Increased travel and contact among people of different faiths and the great increase of dialogue between people of different religions have encouraged the church to develop a greater awareness of the manifold and mysterious ways of God (cf. Nostra Aetate, 1, 2) and of her own mission in this context.
77. The development of an ecclesiology of communion, a theology of hope, an appreciation of divine mercy, together with a renewed concern for the welfare of infants and an ever-increasing awareness that the Holy Spirit works in the lives of all "in a way known to God" (Gaudium et Spes, 22), all of these features of our modern age constitute a new context for the examination of our question. This may be a providential moment for its reconsideration. By the grace of the Holy Spirit, the church in its engagement with the world of our time has gained deeper insights into God's revelation that can cast new light on our question.
78. Hope is the all-embracing context of our reflections and report. The church of today responds to the signs of our own times with renewed hope for the world at large and, with particular regard to our question, for unbaptized infants who die.105 We must here and now give an account of that hope (cf. 1 Pt 3:15).
In the last 50 years or so, the magisterium of the church has shown an increasing openness to the possibility of the salvation of unbaptized infants, and the sensus fidelium seems to have been developing in the same direction. Christians constantly experience, most powerfully in the liturgy, Christ's victory over sin and death,106 God's infinite mercy and the loving communion of the saints in heaven, all of which increases our hope. There the hope that is in us that we must proclaim and explain is regularly renewed, and it is from that experience of hope that various considerations can now be offered.
79. It must be clearly acknowledged that the church does not have sure knowledge about the salvation of unbaptized infants who die. She knows and celebrates the glory of the Holy Innocents, but the destiny of the generality of infants who die without baptism has not been revealed to us, and the church teaches and judges only with regard to what has been revealed. What we do positively know of God, Christ and the church gives us grounds to hope for their salvation, as must now be explained.
3.2. God's Merciful Philanthropia
80. God is rich in mercy, dives in misericordia (Eph 2:4). The Byzantine liturgy frequently praises God's philanthropy; God is the "lover of man."107 Moreover, God's loving purpose, now revealed through the Spirit, is beyond our imagining: "What God has prepared for those who love him" is something "no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived" (1 Cor 2:9-10, quoting Is 64:4). Those who grieve over the fate of infants who die unbaptized, especially their parents, are often themselves people who love God, people whom these words should console. In particular, the following observations can be made:
81. a) God's grace reaches all people and his providence embraces all. The Second Vatican Council teaches that God does not deny "the assistance necessary for salvation" to those who, without any fault of their own, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God, but who with the help of grace "strive to lead a good life."
God enlightens all people "that they may at length have life" (cf. Lumen Gentium, 16). Again it teaches that grace is "active invisibly" in the hearts of all people of good will (Gaudium et Spes, 22). These words apply directly to those above the age of reason, who are making responsible decisions, but it is difficult to deny their applicability also to those below the age of reason.
The following words, in particular, seem truly universal in their scope. "For since Christ died for all and since all are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine [cumque vocation hominids ultimo re vera tuna sit, scilicet divine], we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partners in a way known to God in the paschal mystery" (Gaudium et Spes, 22). This profound sentence of Vatican II takes us into the heart of the loving purpose of the blessed Trinity and stresses that God's purpose exceeds our understanding.
82. b) God does not demand the impossible of us.108 Furthermore, God's power is not restricted to the sacraments: Deus virtue sum non calligraphist sacraments quoin posit sine sacraments effect um sacramento rum conferrer" (God did not bind his power to the sacraments so as to be unable to bestow the sacramental effect without conferring the sacrament).109 God can therefore give the grace of baptism without the sacrament being conferred, and this fact should particularly be recalled when the conferring of baptism would be impossible.
The need for the sacrament is not absolute. What is absolute is humanity's need for the Nurserymen which is Christ himself. All salvation comes from him and therefore, in some way, through the church.110
83. cf) At all times and in all circumstances, God provides a remedy of salvation for humanity.111 This was the teaching of Aquinas,112 and already before him of Augustine113 and Leo the Great.114 It is also found in Cajetan.115
Pope Innocent III specifically focused on the situation of children: "Far from us the thought that all the small children, of whom such a great multitude dies every day, should perish without the merciful God, who wishes no one to perish, having provided for them also some means of salvation.... We say that two kinds of sin must be distinguished, original and actual: original, which is contracted without consent, and actual, which is committed with consent. Thus original sin, which is contracted without consent, is remitted without consent by the power of the sacrament [of baptism]."116
Innocent was defending infant baptism as the means provided by God for the salvation of the many infants who die each day. We may ask, however, on the basis of a more searching application of the same principle, whether God also provides some remedy for those infants who die without baptism. There is no question of denying Innocent's teaching that those who die in original sin are deprived of the beatific vision.117 What we may ask and are asking is whether infants who die without baptism necessarily die in original sin, without a divine remedy.
84. With confidence that in all circumstances God provides, how might we imagine such a remedy? The following are ways by which unbaptized infants who die may perhaps be united to Christ.
85. a) Broadly, we may discern in those infants who themselves suffer and die a saving conformity to Christ in his own death and a companionship with him. Christ himself on the cross bore the weight of all of humanity's sin and death, and all suffering and death thereafter is an engagement with his own enemy (cf. 1 Cor 15:26), a participation in his own battle, in the midst of which we can find him alongside us (cf. Dan 3:24-25 [91-92]; Rom 8:31-39; 2 Tm 4:17). His resurrection is the source of humanity's hope (cf.1 Cor 15:20); in him alone is there life in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10); and the Holy Spirit offers to all a participation in his paschal mystery (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 22).
86. b) Some of the infants who suffer and die do so as victims of violence. In their case we may readily refer to the example of the Holy Innocents and discern an analogy in the case of these infants to the baptism of blood which brings salvation. Albeit unknowingly, the Holy Innocents suffered and died on account of Christ; their murderers were seeking to kill the infant Jesus.
Just as those who took the lives of the Holy Innocents were motivated by fear and selfishness, so the lives particularly of unborn babies today are often endangered by the fear or selfishness of others. In that sense they are in solidarity with the Holy Innocents. Moreover, they are in solidarity with the Christ, who said: "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me" (Mt 25:40). How vital it is for the church to proclaim the hope and generosity that are intrinsic to the Gospel and essential for the protection of life.
87. c) It is also possible that God simply acts to give the gift of salvation to unbaptized infants by analogy with the gift of salvation given sacramentally to baptized infants.118 We may perhaps compare this to God's unmerited gift to Mary at her immaculate conception, by which he simply acted to give her in advance the grace of salvation in Christ.
3.3. Solidarity With Christ
88. There is a fundamental unity and solidarity between Christ and the whole human race. By his incarnation, the Son of God has united himself in some way (quodammodo), with every human being (Gaudium et Spes, 22).119 There is therefore no one who is untouched by the mystery of the Word made flesh. Humanity, and indeed all creation, has been objectively changed by the very fact of the incarnation and objectively saved by the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ.120
However, that objective salvation must be subjectively appropriated (cf. acts 2:37-38; 3:19), ordinarily by the personal exercise of free will in favor of grace in adults, with or without sacramental baptism, or by infants' reception of sacramental baptism. The situation of unbaptized infants is problematic precisely because of their presumed lack of free will.121 Their situation acutely raises the question of the relationship between the objective salvation won by Christ and original sin, and the question also of the exact import of the conciliar word quodammodo.
89. Christ lived, died and rose again for all. Pauline teaching is that "at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,... and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord" (Phil 2:10-11); "to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living"; "we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God" (Rom 14:9-11).
Likewise Johannine teaching stresses that "the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father" (Jn 5:22-23); "I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all therein, saying: 'To him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!"' (Rv 5:13).
90. The Scriptures relate all humanity without exception to Christ. A major weakness of the traditional view of limbo is that it is unclear whether the souls there have any relationship to Christ; the Christocentricity of the doctrine seems deficient. In some accounts the souls in limbo seem to have a natural happiness that belongs to a different order from the supernatural order in which people choose for or against Christ. This appears to be a feature of Aquinas' account, though Suarez and the later scholastics emphasized that Christ restores human nature (his grace is gratia sanans, healing of human nature) and thereby enables the very natural happiness that Aquinas attributed to the souls in limbo. The grace of Christ was therefore implicit in Aquinas' account, though not developed.
The later scholastics thereby envisaged three possible destinies (at least in practice, though in principle they might have accepted only two destinies: heaven and hell) and understood, against Augustine, that it was by the grace of Christ that the numerous infants in limbo were there and not in hell!
91. Where sin abounded, grace superabounded! That is the emphatic teaching of Scripture, but the idea of limbo seems to constrain that superabundance. "[T]he free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many"; "as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man's act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men"; "where sin increased, grace abounded all the more" (Rom 5:15, 18, 20). "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Cor 15:22).
Scripture teaches of our sinful solidarity in Adam, yes, but it does so as the backdrop to teaching our salvific solidarity in Christ. "The doctrine of original sin is, so to speak, the 'reverse side' of the good news that Jesus is the savior of all men, that all need salvation and that salvation is offered to all through Christ."122
Many traditional accounts of sin and salvation (and of limbo) have stressed solidarity with Adam more than solidarity with Christ or at least such accounts have had a restrictive conception of the ways by which human beings benefit from solidarity with Christ. This would seem to have been a characteristic of Augustine's thought in particular:123 Christ saves a select few from the mass who are damned in Adam.
The teaching of St. Paul would urge us to redress the balance and to center humanity on Christ the savior, to whom all in some way are united.124 "He who is the 'image of the invisible God'125 is himself the perfect man who has restored in the children of Adam that likeness to God which had been disfigured ever since the first sin. Human nature, by the very fact that it was assumed, not absorbed, in him has been raised in us also to a dignity beyond compare" (Gaudium et Spes, 22).
We wish to stress that humanity's solidarity with Christ (or, more properly, Christ's solidarity with all of humanity) must have priority over the solidarity of human beings with Adam and that the question of the destiny of unbaptized infants who die must be addressed in that light.
92. "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible.... All things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent" (Col 1:15-18).
God's plan is "to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth" (Eph 1:10). There is a renewed appreciation of the great cosmic mystery of communion in Christ. This, in fact, is the fundamental context for our question.
93. Nevertheless, human beings are blessed with freedom, and a free acceptance of Christ is the ordinary means of salvation; we are not saved without our acceptance and certainly not against our will. All adults either explicitly or implicitly make a decision vis-a-vis Christ, who has united himself with them (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 22).
Some modern theologians see the option for or against Christ as implicated in all choices. However, it is precisely the lack of free will and responsible choice on the part of infants that leads to the query as to how they stand vis-a-vis Christ if they die unbaptized.
The fact that infants can enjoy the vision of God is recognized in the practice of baptizing infants. The traditional view is that it is only through sacramental baptism that infants have solidarity with Christ and hence access to the vision of God. Otherwise, solidarity with Adam has priority. We may ask, however, how that view might be changed if priority were restored to our solidarity with Christ (i.e. Christ's solidarity with us).
94. Baptism for salvation can be received either in re or in voto. It is traditionally understood that the implicit choice for Christ that adults who are not actually baptized can make constitutes a votum for baptism and is salvific. In the traditional view such an option is not open to infants who have not attained the use of free will. The supposed impossibility of baptism in voto for infants is central to the whole question.
Hence, many, many attempts have been made in modern times to explore the possibility of a votum in the case of an unbaptized infant, either a votum exercised on behalf of the infant by its parents or by the church,126 or perhaps a votum exercised by the infant in some way.127
The church has never ruled out such a solution, and attempts to get Vatican II to do so significantly failed because of a widespread sense that investigation of this matter was still ongoing and a widespread desire to entrust such infants to the mercy of God.
95. It is important to recognize a "double gratuity" which calls us into being and simultaneously calls us to eternal life. Though a purely natural order is conceivable, no human life is actually lived in such an order. The actual order is supernatural; channels of grace are open from the very beginning of each human life. All are born with that humanity which was assumed by Christ himself, and all live in some kind of relation to him, with different degrees of explicitness (cf. Lumen Gentium, 16) and acceptance, at every moment.
There are two possible ends for a human being in such an order: either the vision of God or hell (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 22). Though some medieval theologians maintained the possibility of an intermediate, natural destiny gained by the grace of Christ (gratia sanans), namely limbo,128 we consider such a solution problematic and wish to indicate that other approaches are possible based on hope for a redemptive grace given to unbaptized infants who die which opens for them the way to heaven. We believe that in the development of doctrine the solution in terms of limbo can be surpassed in view of a greater theological hope.
3.4. The Church and the Communion of Saints
96. Because all people live in some kind of relation to Christ (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 22) and the church is the body of Christ, all people live also in some kind of relation to the church at every moment. The church has a profound solidarity or communion with the whole of humanity (cf. ibid., 1). She lives with a dynamic orientation to the fullness of life with God in Christ (cf. Lumen Gentium, Chap. 7) and wills to draw all people into that fullness of life. The church is, in fact, "the universal sacrament of salvation" (Lumen Gentium, 48, cf. 1, 9).
Salvation is social (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 12), and the church already lives the graced life of the communion of saints to which all are called and embraces all people in all circumstances in her prayer, most especially when she celebrates the Eucharist. The church includes in her prayer non-Christian adults and nonbaptized infants who die.
Very significantly, the pre-Vatican II lack of liturgical prayers for unbaptized infants who die has been remedied since the council.129 Bound in a common sensus fidei (cf. Lumen Gentium, 12), the church reaches out to all, knowing them to be loved by God. An important reason for the failure of attempts to get Vatican II to teach that unbaptized infants are definitely deprived of the vision of God130 was the testimony of bishops that that was not the faith of their people; it did not correspond to the sensus fidelium.
97. St. Paul teaches that the unbelieving husband or wife of a Christian believer is "consecrated" through their wife or husband respectively and moreover that their children too are "holy" (1 Cor 7:14). This is a remarkable indication that the holiness that resides in the church reaches out to people outside the visible bounds of the church by means of the bonds of human communion, in this case the family bonds between husband and wife in marriage and parents and children.
St. Paul implies that the spouse and the child of a believing Christian have by that very fact at least a connection to membership of the church and to salvation; their family situation "involves a certain introduction to the covenant."131 His words give no assurance of salvation for the unbaptized spouse (cf. 1 Cor 7:16) or child, but surely, once again, grounds for hope.
98. When an infant is baptized, he or she cannot personally make a profession of faith. Rather, at that moment the parents and the church as a whole provide a context of faith for the sacramental action. Indeed, St. Augustine teaches that it is the church that presents a child for baptism.132 The church professes her faith and intercedes powerfully for the infant, supplying the act of faith that the infant is unable to make; again the bonds of communion, both natural and supernatural, are operative and manifest.
If an unbaptized infant is incapable of a votum baptismi, then by the same bonds of communion the church might be able to intercede for the infant and express a votum baptismi on his or her behalf that is effective before God. Moreover, the church effectively does express in her liturgy just such a votum by the very charity toward all that is renewed in her in every celebration of the Eucharist.
99. Jesus taught, "Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (Jn 3:5); from which we understand the need for sacramental baptism.133 Likewise, he said: "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you" (Jn 6:53); from which we understand the (closely related) need for participation in the Eucharist. However, just as we do not conclude from the latter words that someone who has not received the sacrament of the Eucharist cannot be saved, so we should not deduce from the former words that someone who has not received the sacrament of baptism cannot be saved.
What we should conclude is that no one is saved without some relation to baptism and Eucharist, and therefore to the church, which is defined by these sacraments. All salvation has some relation to baptism, Eucharist and the church. The principle that there is "no salvation outside the church" means that there is no salvation which is not from Christ and ecclesial by its very nature. Likewise, the scriptural teaching that "without faith it is impossible to please [God]" (Heb 11:6) indicates the intrinsic role of the church, the communion of faith, in the work of salvation. It is especially in the liturgy of the church that this role becomes manifest, as the church prays and intercedes for all, including unbaptized infants who die.
3.5. Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi
100. Before Vatican II, in the Latin church there was no Christian funeral rite for unbaptized infants, and such infants were buried in unconsecrated ground. Strictly speaking, there was no funeral rite for baptized infants either, but in their case a Mass of the Angels was celebrated and of course they were given a Christian burial. Thanks to the liturgical reform after the council, the Roman Missal now has a funeral Mass for a child who died before baptism, and there are also special prayers for such a situation in the Ordo Exsequiarum.
Though the tone of the prayers in both instances is noticeably cautious, it is now the case that the church liturgically expresses hope in the mercy of God, to whose loving care the infant is entrusted. This liturgical prayer both reflects and shapes the sensus fidei of the Latin church regarding the fate of unbaptized infants who die: lex orandi, lex credendi. Significantly, in the Greek Catholic Church there is only one funeral rite for infants, whether baptized or not yet baptized, and the church prays for all deceased infants that they may be received into the bosom of Abraham, where there is no sorrow or anguish but only eternal life.
101. "As regards children who have died without baptism, the church can only entrust them to the mercy of God as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God, who desires that all should be saved, and Jesus' tenderness toward children which caused him to say, 'Let the children come to me, do not hinder them (Mk 10:14; cf. 1 Tm 2:4), allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without baptism. All the more urgent is the church's call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy baptism."134
102. Within the hope that the church bears for the whole of humanity and wants to proclaim afresh to the world of today, is there a hope for the salvation of infants who die without baptism? We have carefully reconsidered this complex question with gratitude and respect for the responses that have been given through the history of the church, but also with an awareness that it falls to us to give a coherent response for today. Reflecting within the one tradition of faith that unites the church through the ages and relying utterly on the guidance of the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus promised would lead his followers "into all the truth" (Jn 16:13), we have sought to read the signs of the times and to interpret them in the light of the Gospel.
Our conclusion is that the many factors that we have considered above give serious theological and liturgical grounds for hope that unbaptized infants who die will be saved and enjoy the beatific vision. We emphasize that these are reasons for prayerful hope, rather than grounds for sure knowledge. There is much that simply has not been revealed to us (cf. Jn 16:12). We live by faith and hope in the God of mercy and love who has been revealed to us in Christ, and the Spirit moves us to pray in constant thankfulness and joy (cf. 1 Thes 5:18).
103. What has been revealed to us is that the ordinary way of salvation is by the sacrament of baptism. None of the above considerations should be taken as qualifying the necessity of baptism or justifying delay in administering the sacrament.135 Rather, as we want to reaffirm in conclusion, they provide strong grounds for hope that God will save infants when we have not been able to do for them what we would have wished to do, namely, to baptize them into the faith and life of the church.
The theme "The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptized" was placed under the study of the International Theological Commission. In order to prepare for this study, a committee was formed comprised by Msgr. Ignazio Sanna, Rev. Basil Kyu-Man Cho, Rev. Peter Damien Akpunonu, Rev. Adelbert Denaux, Rev. Gilles Emery, Of, Msgr. Ricardo Ferrara, Msgr. Istvan Ivancso, Msgr. Paul McPartlan, Rev. Dominic Veliath, SOB (president of the committee) and Sister Sarah Butler, MSTB. The committee also received the collaboration of Rev. Luis Ladaria, SJ, the secretary general of the International Theological Commission, and Msgr. Guido Pozzo, the assistant to the ITC, as well as other members of the commission. The general discussion on the theme took place during the plenary sessions of the ITC held in Rome in October 2005 and October 2006. This present text was approved in forma specifica by the members of the commission and was subsequently submitted to its president, Cardinal William Levada, who upon receiving the approval of the Holy Father in an audience granted on Jan. 19, 2007, approved the text for publication.
1 All scriptural references in this document are to the Revised Standard Version of the Bible (Catholic edition).
2 Cf. International Theological Commission, "Communion and Stewardship: Human Persons Created in the Image of God," Vatican City, 2005.
3 "Bethlehem, do not be sad, but be of good heart at the killing of the holy infants, because they were offered as perfect victims to Christ the King: Having been sacrificed on account of him, they will reign with him," Exapostiarion of Matins in the Byzantine liturgy, Anthologion di Tutto l'Anno, Vol. 1, Edizione Lipa, Rome 1999, 1199.
4 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Pastoralis Actio, 13, Acta Apostolicae Sedis 72 (1980), 1144.
5 Catechism of the Catholic Church (hereafter referred to as Catechism), 1261.
6 Catechism, 1058.
7 Catechism, 1821.
8 Cf. Gn 22:18; Wis 8:1; Acts 14:17; Rom 2:6-7; 1 Tm 2:4; Synod of Quiercy, Henricus Denzinger and Adolfus Schometzer (eds.), Enchiridion Symbolorum Definitionum et Declarationum de Rebus Fidei et Morum (hereafter referred to as DS), Rome: Herder, 1976, 623; also Vatican Council II, Nostra Aerate, 1.
9 All references in English to the documents of Vatican II have been taken from Austin Flannery (general ed.), Vatican II. The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, Dublin: Costello Pub. Co., 1975.
10 Cf. Synod of Quiercy, DS 623.
11 Cf. D. Weaver, "The Exegesis of Romans 5:12 Among the Greek Fathers and Its Implication for the Doctrine of Original Sin: The 5th-12th Centuries," St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 29 (1985), 133-159, 231-257.
12 (Pseudo-)Athanasius, Quaestiones ad Antiochum Ducem, qn. 101 (Patrologia Cursus Completa, Series Graeca PGI, LP Migne (ed.), 28, 660C). Likewise qn. 115 (PG 28, 672A).
13 Anastasius of Sinai, Quaestiones et Responsiones, qn. 81 (PG 89, 709C).
14 De Infantibus Praemature Abreptis Libellum, ab H. Polack ad editionem praeparatum in Colloquio Leidensi testimonies instructum renovatis curis recensitum edendum curavit Hadwiga Horner, in I.K. Downing, I.A. McDonough, H. Homer (ed. cur.), Gregorii Nysseni Opera Dogmatica Minora, Part II, W. Jaeger, H. Langerbeck, H. Homer (eds.), Gregorii Nysseni Opera, Volume III, Part II, Leiden, New York, Copenhagen, Cologne 1987, 65-97.
15 Ibid., 70.
16 Ibid., 81-82.
17 Ibid., 83.
18 Ibid., 96.
19 Ibid., 97.
20 Gregory of Nazianzus, Oratio XL — In Sanctum Baptisma, 23 (PG 36,389B-C).
21 Anastasius of Sinai, Quaestiones et Responsiones, qn. 81 (PG 89, 709C).
22 Cf. Pelagius, Expositio in Epistolam ad Romanos, in Expositiones XIII Epistolarum Pauli, A. Souter (ed.), Cambridge, 1926.
23 Cf. Augustine, Epistula 156, Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum (hereafter CSEL), 44, 448f; 175.6 (CSEL 44, 660-62); 176.3, (CSEL 44, 666f); De Peccatorurn Meritis et Remissione et de Baptismo Parvulorum 1.20.26; 3. 5.11-6.12 (CSEL 60, 25f and 137-139); De Gestis Pelagii 11, 23-24 (CSEL 42, 76-78).
24 Cf. De Pecc. Mer. 1.16.21 (CSEL 60, 20f); Sermo 294.3, Patrologia Cursus Completa, Series Latina (PL), J.P. Migne (ed.), 38, 1337; Contra Iulianum 5.11.44 (PL 44, 809).
25 Cf. De Pecc. Mer. 1.34.63 (CSEL 60, 63f).
26 Cf. De Gratia Christi et de Peccato Originali 2.40.45 (CSEL 42, 202f); De Nuptiis et Concupiscentia 2.18.33 (CSEL 42, 286f).
27 Cf. Sermo 293.11 (PL 38, 1334).
28 Cf. De Pecc. Mer. 1.9-15.20 (CSEL 60, 10-20).
29 "Cur ergo pro illis Christus mortuus est si non sunt rei?" in De Nupt et Conc. 2:33.56 (CSEL 42, 513).
30 Cf. Sermo 293.8-11 (PL 38, 1333f).
31 Sermo 294.3 (PL 38, 1337).
32 De Pecc. Mer. 1.28.55 (CSEL 60, 54).
33 Enchiridion ad Laurentium 93 (PL 40, 275); cf. De Pecc. Mer. 1.16.21 (CSEL 60, 20f).
34 C. Iul. 5.11.44 (PL 44, 809).
35 Cf. Contra Iulianum Opus Imperfection 4.122 (CSEL 85, 141-142).
36 Contra Duas Epistulas Pelagianorum 2.7.13 (CSEL 60, 474).
37 Sermo 294.7.7 (PL 38, 1339).
38 Having taught the universal salvific will of God up to the start of the Pelagian controversy (De Spiritu et Littera 33.57-58 CSEL 60, 215f), Augustine subsequently reduced the universality of the everyone in 1 Tm 2:4 in various ways: all those (and only those) who in fact will be saved; all classes (Jews and gentiles), not all individuals; many, i.e., not all (Enchir 103 [PL 40, 280]; C. Iul 4.8.44 [PL 44, 760]). Unlike Jansenism, however, Augustine always taught that Christ died for all, including infants ("Numquid [parvuli] aut homines non sunt ut non pertineant ad id quad dictum est, omnes homines [1 Tin 2:4]?" C. Iul. 4.8.42 [PL 44, 759]; cf. C. Iul. 3.25.58 [PL 44, 732]; Sermo 293.8 [PL 38, 1333]) and that God does not command the impossible (De Civitate Dei 22.2 [CSEL 40, 583-85]; De Natura et Gratia 43.50 [CSEL 60, 270]; Retractationes 1.10.2 [PL 32, 599]). For more on this question, see E Moriones (ed.), Enchiridion Theologicum Sancti Augustini, Madrid: La Editorial Catolica, 1961, 327f and 474-481.
39 Cf. Enchir. 94-95 (PL 40,275f); De Nat. et Grat. 3.3-5.5 (PL 44, 249f.).
40 DS 223. This teaching was adopted by the Council of Trent. Council of Trent, Fifth Session, Decree on Original Sin, DS 1514; 1. Neuner-J. Dupuis (eds.), The Christian Faith in the Doctrinal Documents of the Catholic Church, Theological Publications in India, Bangalore 2004 (hereafter referred to as ND), 511.
41 DS, 224: "Item placuit, ut si quis dicit, idea dixisse Dominion: 'In domo Patris mei mansiones multae sunt (Io 14,2), ut intelligatur, quia in regno caelorum erit aliquis medius aut ullus alicubi locus, ubi beati vivant parvuli, qui sine baptismo ex hac vita migrarunt, sine quo in regno caelorum, quod est vita aeterna, intrare non possunt, anathema sit." Cf. Concilia Africae A. 345-A. 525, C. Munier (ed.), Turnhout: Brepols, 1974, 70. This canon is found in some manuscripts, but it is missing from others. The Indiculus did not take it up. Cf. DS 238-249; ND 1907-1914.
42 Gregory the Great, Moralia, 9.21, commenting on Job 9:17 (PL 75, 877). See also Moralia, 12.9 (PL 75, 992993) and 13.44 (PL 75, 1038).
43 Cf. De Conceptu Virginali et de Originali Peccato, ES. Schmitt led.), t. II, cap. 28, 170-171.
44 Cf. Summa Sententiarum, Tract. V, Cap. 6 (PL 176, 132).
45 Cf. Peter Abelard, Commentaria in Epistolam Pauli ad Romanos, Liber II [5,19] (Corpus Christianorum, Continuatio Mediaevalis 11), 169-170.
46 Cf. Sententiae, Lib. II, Dist. 33, Cap. 2, I. Brady (ed.), t. I/2, Grottaferrata 1971, 520.
47 Cf. Innocent III, Letter to Humbert, archbishop of Arles, Maiores Ecclesiae Causas (DS 780): "Poena originalis peccati est carentia visionis Dei, actualis vero poena peccati est gehennae perpetuae cruciatus." This theological tradition identified the "torments of hell" with afflictive pains both sensible and spiritual; cf. Thomas Aquinas, IV Sent., Dist. 44, q. 3, a. 3, qla 3; dist. 50, q. 2, a. 3.
48 Council of Lyons II, Profession of Faith for Michael Paleologus, DS 858; John XXII, letter to the Armenians Nequaquam Sine Dolore, DS 926; Council of Florence, decree Laetentur Caeli, DS 1306.
49 Thomas Aquinas, II Sent., dist. 33, q. 2, a. 2; De Malo, q. 5, a. 3. John Duns Scotus, Lectura 11, dist. 33, q. un.; Ordinatio II, dist. 33, q. un.
50 Thomas Aquinas, De Malo, q. 5, a. 3: 'Anime puerorum... carent supernaturali cognitione que hic in nobis per fidem plantatur eo quod nec hic fidem habuerunt in actu, nec sacramentum fidei susceperunt... Et ideo se privari tali bono anime puerorum non cognoscunt, et propter hoc non dolent." Cf. ibid., ad 4; Leonine ed., Vol. 23, 136.
51 Cf. Robert Bellarmine, De Amissione Gratiae VI, c.2 and c.6, in Opera, vol. 5, Paris: Vives, 1873, 458, 470.
52Cf. Paul III, Alias cum Felicitate (Sept. 23, 1535), in Jo. Laurentii Berti Florentini, Opus de Theologicis Disciplinis, Venetiis: Ex Typographia Remondiniana, 1760, vol. V, 36; Paul III, Cum Alias Quorumdam (March 11, 1538), in ibid., Vol.1, 167-68; Benedict XIV, Dum Praeterito Mense (July 31, 1748), Non Sine Magno (Dec. 30, 1750), Sotto il 15 di Luglio (May 12, 1751), in Benedicti XIV Acta Sive Nondum Sive Sparsim Edita Nunc Autem Primum Collecta Cura Raphaelis de Martinis, Neapoli, Ex Typogr. Puerorum Artificium, 1894, Vol. 1, 554-57; Vol. II, 74, 412-413. For other texts and references, see G.J. Dyer, The Denial of Limbo and the Jansenist Controversy, Mundelein, III: St. Mary of the Lake Seminary, 1955, 139-59; see especially on pp, 139-142, the account of the discussions under Clement XIII in 1758-1759, according to the manuscript 1485 of the Biblioteca Corsiniana, Rome, classification mark 41.C.15 ("Cause trattate nella S. C. del Sant' Uffizio di Roma dal 1733 al 1761").
53 Pius VI, Auctorem Fidei, DS 2626. On this question, see Dyer, The Denial of Limbo, 159-170.
54 Schema Reformatum Constitutionis Dogmaticae de Doctrina Catholica, Cap. V, No. 6 in Acta et Decreta Sacrorum Conciliorum Recentiorum, Collectio Lacensis, t. 7, Friburg Brisgoviae 1890, 565.
55 For a survey of the discussions and of some new solutions proposed before Vatican II, see Y. Cougar, "Morts Avant l'Aurore de la Raison," in Vaste Monde Ma Paroisse: Verite et Dimensions du Salut, Paris: Temoignage Chretien, 1959, 174-183; G. Dyer, Limbo: Unsettled Question, New York: Sheed & Ward 1964, 93-182 (with the indication of many publications on pp. 192-196); WA, van Roo, "Infants Dying Without Baptism: A Survey of Recent Literature and Determination of the State of the Question," Gregorianum 35 (1954), 406-473; A. Michel, Enfants Morts Sans Bapteme, Paris: Tequi, 1954; C. Journet, La Volonte Divine Salvifique sur les Petits Enfants, Paris: Desclee de Brouwer 1958; L. Renwart, "Le bapteme des Enfants et les Limbes," Nouvelle Revue Theologique 80 (1958), 449-467; H. de Lavalette, "Autour de la Question des Enfants Morts Sans bapteme,"Nouvelle Revue Theologique 82 (1960), 56-69; P Gumpel, "Unbaptized Infants: May They Be Saved?" The Downside Review, 72 (1954), 342-458; ibid., "Unbaptized Infants: A Further Report," The Downside Review 73 (1955), 317-346; V Wilkin, From Limbo to Heaven: An Essay on the Economy of Redemption, New York: Sheed & Ward, 1961. After Vatican II: E. Boissard, Reflexions sur le Sort des Enfants Morts Sans Bapteme, Paris: Editions de la Source, 1974.
56 For the references, see G. Alberigo and J.A. Komonchak (eds.), History of Vatican II, Vol. 1, Maryknoll: Orbis & Leuven: Peeters, 1995, 236-245; 308-310.
57 DS 1349.
58 On these propositions and the questions they raised, see G.J. Dyer, The Denial of Limbo, 102-122.
59 Pius XII, 'Allocution to Italian Midwives," AAS, 43 (1951), 841.
60 Cf. Pius XII, Humani Generis, AAS, 42 (1950), 570: 'Alii veram gratuitatem ordinissupernaturaliscorrumpunt, cum autument Deum entia intellectu praedita condere non posse, quin eadem ad beatificam visionem ordinet et vocer."
61 Cf. Lumen Gentium, 15-16; Nostra Aerate, 1; Dignitatis Humanae, 11; Ad Genres, 7.
62 See for instance - among other authors - the observations of K. Rahner, "Die Bleibende Bedeutung des II Vatikanischen Konzils,"Schriften zur Theologie, Band XIV, Benziger Verlag: Zurich, Cologne, Einsiedeln, 1980, 314-316. With other nuances: J.H. Nicolas, Synthese Dogmatique. De la Trinite a la Trinite, Fribourg, Paris: Editions Universitaires, Beauchesne, 1985, 848-853. See also the observations of J. Ratzinger speaking as a private theologian in: Vittorio Messori a colloquio con it cardinale Joseph Ratzinger, Rapporto Sulla Fede, Cinisello Balsamo: Edizioni Pauline, 1985, 154-155.
63 See above, Footnote 38.
64 Pius IX, Quanto Conficiamur, 10.09.1863 (DS 2866): "Qui... honestam rectamque vitam agunt, posse, divinae lucis etgratiae operante virtute, aeternam consequi vitam, cum Deus, qui omnium mentes, animos, cogitationes habitusque plane intuetur, scrutatur et noscit, pro summa sua bonitate et clementia minim¢ patiatur, quempiam aeternis puniri suppliciis, qui voluntarie culpae reatum non habeat"
65 Cf. Innocent III, letter to Humbert, archbishop of Arles, Maiores Ecclesiae Causas, DS 780.
66 Profession of Faith for Michael Paleologus, DS 858; see above, Footnote 48.
67 AAS 43 (1951), 841.
68 See above, 1.6 and below, 2.4.
69 Cf. Eph 1:5, 9: "the purpose (eudokia) of his will."
70 Cf. Lk 10:22: "the one to whom the Son chooses (bouleta) to reveal him."
71 Cf. 1 Cor 12:11: "who apportions to each one individually as he wills (bouletai)."
72 Cf. for instance Mt 23:37.
73 Cf. Catechism, 307.
74 DS 623.
75 DS 624.
76 See Irenaeus, Adv Haer., I, 10, 1 (PG 7, 550).
77 Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae III, q. 26, art. 1, corpus.
78 John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, 5.
79 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Dominus Iesus, 14.
80 Other attestations of the Jewish belief about Adam's influence in the time of Paul are: 2 Apoc. Bar. 17:3; 23:4; 48:42; 54:15; 4 Ezr. 3:7; 7:118; "O Adam, what have you done? Though it was you who sinned, the fall was not yours alone, but ours too who are your descendants."
81 Cf. Rom 3:23: "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
82 In the Western church, the Greek phrase eph'hb was understood as a relative clause with a masculine pronoun referring to Adam or a neuter pronoun referring to sin (peccatum) (cf. Vents Latina and Vulgate in quo). Augustine at first accepted both interpretations, but when he realized that the Greek word for sin was feminine (hamartia) he opted for the first interpretation, which would imply the notion of incorporation of all human beings in Adam. He was followed by many Latin theologians, either "sive in Adamo, sive in peccato," or "in Adamo."The latter interpretation was not known in the Eastern church before John Damascene. Several Greek fathers understood eph'ho as "because of whom," i.e. Adam, "all sinned." The phrase eph'ho has also been understood as a conjunction and translated as "since, because," "on condition that," or "with the result that, so that" J. Fitzmyer (Romans [AB, 33], New York, 1992, 413-416) discusses 11 different interpretations and opts for the latter possibility of a consecutive meaning: "Eph'ho, then, would mean that Paul is expressing a result, the sequel to Adams baleful influence on humanity by the ratification of his sin in the sins of all individuals" (p. 416).
83 De Nuptiis et Concupiscentia II,12,15 (PL, 44, 450): "Non ego finxi originale peccatum quod catholica fides credit antiquitus."
84 The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 404, speaks of "a sin which will be transmitted by propagation to all mankind, that is, by the transmission of a human nature deprived of original holiness and justice." And it adds: "And that is why original sin is called sin only in an analogical sense: it is a sin 'contracted' and not 'committed' - a state and not an act."
85 Council of Trent, Fifth Session, Decree on Original Sin, DS 1512; ND 509. The decree of Trent echoes the second canon of the Second Council of Orange (529).
86 Catechism, 389.
87 Cyprian, Epistola ad Iubaianum 73, 21 (PL 3,1123); see also Council of Florence, Cantate Domino, DS 1351; ND 810: "The holy Roman church... firmly believes, professes and preaches that 'no one remaining outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans' but also Jews, heretics or schismatics can become partakers of eternal life; but they will go to the 'eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels' [Mt 25:41], unless before the end of their life they are joined to (aggregate) it.... 'And no one can be saved, no matter how much alms one has given, even if shedding one's blood for the name of Christ, unless one remains in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church."' (Fulgentius of Ruspe, Liber de Fide Liber ad Petrum, 38, 79 and 39, 80).
88 Cf. Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctum: "Porro subesse Romano Pontifici omni humanae creaturae declaramus, dicimus, diffinimus omnino esse de necessitate salutis," DS 875; cp. DS 1351; ND 875: "Furthermore we declare, state and define that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of all human beings that they submit to the Roman pontiff."
89 Pius IX, Singulari Quadam, DS 2865i; ND 813.
90 Letter of the Holy Office to the Archbishop of Boston, DS 3870; ND 855.
91 John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, 10.
92 Polycarp may be an indirect witness to this, since he declares before the proconsul: "For 86 years I have been serving him [the Christ]," Martyrium Polycarpi 9,3. Polycarp's martyrdom probably occurred during the final years of the reign of Antoninus Pius (156-160).
93 Council of Trent, Fifth Session, Decree on Original Sin, DS 1514; ND 511. The canon echoes the second canon of the Council of Carthage (418), DS 23.
94 Taking into account the Old Testament texts regarding the outpouring of the Spirit by God, the principal idea in Jn 3:5 seems to refer to God's gift of the Spirit. If natural life is attributable to the fact of God giving the spirit to human beings, analogously eternal life begins when God gives his Holy Spirit to human beings. Cf. R.E. Brown, The Gospel According to John (1-XII), The Anchor Bible, Vol. 29, Doubleday & Co: New York, 1966, 140. In this regard, Brown observes: "The baptismal motif that is woven into the text of the whole scene is secondary; the phrase of water in which the baptismal motif expresses itself most clearly may have been always part of the scene, although originally not having a specific reference to Christian baptism; or the phase may have been added to the tradition later in order to bring out the baptismal motif" (ibid., 143). The Lord stresses the necessity of a birth "of water and spirit" to enter into the kingdom of God. In Christian tradition this has been understood as pointing to the "sacrament of baptism," although the "sacramental" reading is a limitation of the pneumatological meaning. Read in this way, the issue can be raised as to whether the text expresses here a general principle without exception. One should be aware of the slight shift in interpretation.
95 Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae III, q. 68, art. 2, corpus.
96 Council of Trent, Sixth Session, Decree on Justification, DS 1524; ND 1928.
97 Theophylactus, In 1 Tm 2, 4 (PG 125, 32): Ei pantas anthropous thele sothenai ekeinos, thele kai su, kai miniou ton theon.
98 It is notable that the editio typica of the encyclical of Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, has replaced Paragraph 99, which read: "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" (a phrasing which was susceptible to a faulty interpretation), by this definitive text: "Infantem autem vestrum potestis eidem Patri eiusque misericordiae cum spe committere" (cf. AAS 87 (1995), 515), which may be translated as follows: "You can entrust your child to the same Father and to his mercy with hope."
99 John Chrysostom, In I Tm. Homil. 7,2 (PG 62, 536): Mimou Theon. Ei pantas anthropous thelei sothenai, eikotos huper hapanton dei euchesthai.
100 See above, Chap. 1.
101 See above, Chap. 2.
102 Y Cougar, Vaste Monde Ma Paroisse: Verite et Dimensions du Salut, Paris: Temoignage Chretien, 1968, 169: "un de ceux dons la solution est la plus difficile en synthese theologique."
103 See above, Chaps. 1.5 & 1.6.
104 Cf. events such as Live Aid, 1985, and Live 8, 2005.
105 Cf. Catechism, 1261.
106 "Christ is risen from the dead. By death he conquered death, and to those in the grave he granted life" (Easter troparion of the Byzantine liturgy). This paschal verse is sung many times on each of the 40 days of the Easter season in the Byzantine tradition. It is thus the principal Easter hymn.
107 In all its ceremonies and celebrations, the Byzantine liturgy praises God's merciful love: "For you are a merciful God who loves mankind, and we glorify you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and ever and forever."
108 Cf. Augustine, De Natura et Gratia 43, 50 (PL 44, 271).
109 Aquinas, Summa Theologiae III, 64, 7; cf. III, 64, 3; III, 66, 6; III, 68, 2.
110 See below, 3.4. & 3.5.
111 Cf. Aquinas, In IV Sent. Dist.1, q. 2, a. 4, q.l, a. 2: "in quolibet statu post peccatum fuit aliquod remedium per quod originale peccatum ex virtute passionis Christi tolleretur."
112 Cf. also Note 109, above.
113 Cf. Augustine, Ep. 102, 2, 12.
114 Cf. Leo the Great, In Nat. Domini 4,1 (PL 54, 203): "Sacramentum salutis humanae nulla umquam antiquitate cessavit.... Semper quidem, dilectissimi, diversis modis multitgde mensuris human generi bonitas divina consuluit. Et plurima prouidentiae suae munera omnibus retro saeculis clementer impertuit."
115 Cf. Cajetan, In 111am Part., q. 68, a.11: "Rationabile esse ut divina misericordia provideret homini in quocumque naturali statu de aliquo remedio salutis." (It is reasonable that God's mercy should provide man, in whatever natural state [he be], with some remedy of salvation.) Cajetan was actually looking to the time before Christ when there was a kind of sacramentum naturae, e.g. offering a sacrifice, which was the occasion (but not the cause) of grace. He understood the situation of human beings prior to Christ to be "in the time of the law of nature" and understood the situation of unbaptized infants similarly. He therefore applied his principle in favor of the idea of limbo as the destiny of such infants. His fundamental point, however, is very important and does not necessarily lead to the conclusion of limbo: namely, that at all times in history and in all circumstances God cares for the human situation and offers appropriate opportunities for salvation.
116 Innocent III, Letter to Humbert, archbishop of Arles, ND, 1409, 506; DS, 780 'Absit enim, ut universi parvuli pereant, quorum quotidie tanta multitude moritur, quin et ipse misericors Deus, qui neminem vult perire, aliquod remedium procuraverit ad salutem....Dicimus distinguendum, quod peccatum est duplex: originale scilicet et actuale: originale, quod absque consensu contrahitur, etactuale, quod committitur cum consensu. Originale igitur, quod sine consensu contrahitur, sine consensu per vim remittitur sacramenti."
117 Cf. DS 780.
118 The situation of unbaptized infants may be considered by analogy with that of baptized infants, as here. More problematically, it may also perhaps be considered by analogy with the situation of unbaptized adults, see below, Footnote 127.
119 The fathers of the church delight in reflecting on the assumption by Christ of the whole of humanity; e.g. lrenaeus, Adv Haer. 3, 19, 3 (SCh 211, 380), Epideixis 33 (SCh 406, 130-131); Hilary of Poitiers, In Mt. 4, 8 (SCh 254, 130); 18, 6 (SCh 258, 80); Trin. II,24 (CCL 62, 60); Tr Ps. 51, 17; 54, 9 (CCL 61, 104; 146); etc.; Gregory of Nyssa, In Cant. Or. II (Opera, ed. Jaeger, VI, 61); Adv. Apoll. (Opera III/ 1, 152); Cyril of Alexandria, In Joh. Evang. I, 9 (PG 73, 161-164); Leo the Great, Tract. 64, 3; 72,2 (CCL 138A, 392; 442f).
120 Some fathers had a salvific understanding of the incarnation itself; e.g. Cyril of Alexandria, Comm. in Joh. 5 (PG 73, 753).
121 See below, Footnote 127.
122 Catechism, 389.
123 E.g. Augustine, Enarr in Ps. 70, II, 1 (PL 36, 891): "Omnis autem homo Adam; sicut in his qui crediderunt, omnis homo Christus, quia membra sunt Christi."This text shows Augustine's difficulty in regarding solidarity with Christ as universally as solidarity with Adam. All have solidarity with Adam; those who believe have solidarity with Christ. Irenaeus is more evenhanded in his doctrine of recapitulation; cf. Adv. Haer. 3, 21, 10; 5, 12, 3; 5, 14, 2; 5, 15, 4; 5, 34, 2.
124 By the fact of the incarnation, cf. Gaudium et Spes, 22.
125 Col 1:15; cf. 2 Cor 4:4.
126 See below, 3.4.
127 With regard to the possibility of a votum on the part of the infant, growth toward free will might perhaps be imagined as a continuum which unfolds toward maturity from the first moment of existence, rather than there being a sudden qualitative jump to the exercise of mature, responsible decision. The existence of the unborn is a continuum of human life and growth; it does not suddenly become human at some point. Consequently, infants may actually be capable of exercising some kind of rudimentary votum by analogy with that of unbaptized adults. Some theologians have understood the mother's smile to mediate the love of God to the infant and have therefore seen the infant's response to that smile as a response to God himself. Some modern psychologists and neurologists are convinced that the infant in the womb is already in some way conscious and has some use of freedom. Cf. V Frankl, Der Unbewusste Gott. Psychotherapie and Religion (1979); D. Amen, Healing the Hardware of the Soul (2002).
128 See above, Para 90.
129 See below, 3.5.
130 See above, Chap. 1.6.
131 Y. Congar, Vaste Monde Ma Paroisse, 171.
132 Cf. Augustine, First Letter to Boniface, 22, 40 (PL 44, 570).
133 Cf. Footnote 94 above.
134 Catechism, 1261.
135 Cf. Catechism, 1257.