Pope Francis prays for aborted babies

What does this imply?

On his trip to South Korea, Pope Francis prayed for the souls of aborted babies. What might this imply, in terms of salvation theology?

If aborted babies go directly to Heaven, they would not need our prayers. And if they were condemned to the limbo of Hell — as certain ultra-conservative priests and theologians claim — they would not benefit from our prayers. Yet how can they be in Purgatory, since they certainly have committed no personal sins, not even venial sins, for which they might need to suffer temporal punishment?

My view is that prenatals, infants, and young children, who die at that young age and without formal baptism, are given sanctifying grace, at least in the last moment of life (or before that moment), as a baptism of blood. They die in the state of grace. Then they are sent to the limbo of Purgatory, a temporary place which is essentially the same as the limbo of the Fathers. There is no punishment there, but only instruction. They receive, in this upper level of Purgatory, the spiritual development and learning that they were denied in this life. Then they enter Heaven having first explicitly known and accepted Christ.

We can pray for their souls, in the limbo of Purgatory, because we are all members of the same body of Christ, the same Church, the same human family. They benefit from our prayers because it shows them the love of Christ that exists on earth, as in Heaven.

But if any Catholic teaches that prenatals who die in the womb are sent by God to Hell, even to the “upper level” of Hell called the limbo (or fringe) of Hell, may God correct him.

“Because God knows, searches and clearly understands the minds, hearts, thoughts, and nature of all, his supreme kindness and clemency do not permit anyone at all who is not guilty of deliberate sin to suffer eternal punishments.” [Pope Pius IX, Quanto Conficiamur Moerore, n. 7.]

{23:13} So then: Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! For you close the kingdom of heaven before men. For you yourselves do not enter, and those who are entering, you would not permit to enter.
{23:14} Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! For you consume the houses of widows, praying long prayers. Because of this, you shall receive the greater judgment.
{23:15} Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! For you travel around by sea and by land, in order to make one convert. And when he has been converted, you make him twice the son of Hell that you are yourselves.

{18:1} In that hour, the disciples drew near to Jesus, saying, “Whom do you consider to be greater in the kingdom of heaven?”
{18:2} And Jesus, calling to himself a little child, placed him in their midst.
{18:3} And he said: “Amen I say to you, unless you change and become like little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
{18:4} Therefore, whoever will have humbled himself like this little child, such a one is greater in the kingdom of heaven.
{18:5} And whoever shall accept one such little child in my name, accepts me.
{18:6} But whoever will have led astray one of these little ones, who trust in me, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck, and to be submerged in the depths of the sea.

Catholic teachers who claim that the littlest children go to Hell — and who imagine that they themselves will have a great reward in Heaven — are sadly mistaken. And in their arrogance, they accept correction from no one, not even the Pope.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and
translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

Forgiveness and Salvation for Everyone
available in print (paperback, 510 pp.) and in Kindle format.

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