limbo

limbo, in Roman Catholic theology, an afterlife realm between heaven and hell where there is no punishment but where souls are denied the presence of God. Never part of Catholic dogma, the concept of limbo was developed during the Middle Ages, and came to be seen as two places. One was the home of the souls of Old Testament patriarchs who were liberated by Jesus after the Resurrection; the other contained the souls of babies who never were baptized and freed from original sin. Considered unenlightened by many in the modern Church, the concept was dropped from the official catechism in 1992. In 2004 Pope John Paul II appointed a commission to study limbo, and in 2007 it issued its findings. Signed by Pope Benedict XVI, the report largely repudiated the idea of limbo, stating that it reflected a "restrictive view of salvation" and that it is reasonable to hope that the souls of unbaptized infants are admitted to heaven by a merciful God.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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