Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Pope abolishes limbo.

As I wrote last week, I read that the Pope was about to abolish limbo.

For the non-Catholic reader, limbo is described at

In theological usage the name is applied to (a) the temporary place or state of the souls of the just who, although purified from sin, were excluded from the beatific vision until Christ's triumphant ascension into Heaven (the "limbus patrum"); or (b) to the permanent place or state of those unbaptized children and others who, dying without grievous personal sin, are excluded from the beatific vision on account of original sin alone (the "limbus infantium" or "puerorum").

So basically it's where unbaptised babies or as I was taught "pagan babies", go if they die.

I think this is great - there are paid people whose job it is to wear large pointy hats and worry about where unbaptised babies go if they die and this says a lot about the society in which we live. Pondering such issues not very practical and doesn't really produce any economic value but at least we are not living in such dire conditions were we couldn't afford to have able bodied men consider the afterlife fate of the un-dunked. I'm sure this didn't happen during my Grandfather's time in the depression when men were busy trying to make ends meet by selling apples and pencils on street corners and deep thoughts on the subject of limbo was the farthest thing from their minds. So we should consider ourselves rich since we can afford to pay people to provide such services to our society.

Also, the whole topic of limbo just yet another divisive subject. It automatically divides people into one of two camps. Are you for limbo or against it? Are you a limbo-ist or an anti-limbo-ist? Like abortion, Iraq or this red state, blue state thing there is going to be clear line and you have to be on one side or the other. Why I am Pro-Limbo and Pro-life. Except for the fact that the Pope has made a stand on the "issue", it's just a bumper sticker and a catchy icon away from ripping this country in two.

So how did this dramatic decision come to be? It seems fishy to be Pope for a short time and to make such a dramatic move. Did Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger lobby the college of cardinals before becoming Pope? Did he promise them "You boys put me in the big chair and I'll make sure that limbo is abolished in our lifetime"? Has he secretly been planning this for years while working his way up the ranks? Did he start as a small boy with a dream? Did he say to himself as a young man "I hope some day to abolish the silly concept of limbo and set pagan babies everywhere free"?

Or was it the other way around? Did a group of Cardinals promise to get Ratzinger the Big Pointy Hat if he abolished limbo? It just brings all kinds of questions doesn't it? Like I said, it seems fishy.

So before it was abolished, what was limbo like? After all, it sounds like a heavenly Lord of the Flies. First of all, the entire population of limbo is under the "age of reason" which most cultures believe is about 13 years old. Millions and millions of children under the age of 13 with zero supervision. This sounds like a recipe for disaster. Let alone how impractical it sounds as a very large percentage of the limbo population must be newborns who died at child birth. This brings up the whole question of care and feeding. Who is going to care for millions of babies? Do they grow? Are they stuck as babies forever? What of the toddlers, three year olds and pre-ks? Who is keeping them occupied with no Sesame Street, Barney or Tell-a-tubbies to lean on? If you are one of the unlucky 13 year olds this isn't limbo, it's hell because you are a babysitter with a lot of kids to look after.

So let's look for the news from the Vatican to see if they are successful!

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