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Cantalamessa Says All Unbaptized Babies Go to Heaven

by Christopher A. Ferrara

The Preacher to the Papal Household seems to be in process of "marketing" his own distinct version of Catholic theology, which departs from what the Church has always taught. Yet no one seems willing to put the brakes on Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa’s increasingly bold pronouncements.

As this column has noted, Cantalamessa even has his own website (cantalamessa.org) where he collects his Modernist novelties and presents them to the world. For instance, there is a defense of his astonishing claim that unbaptized infants all go to Heaven. As he put it: "Some readers have said that they are perplexed by my affirmation that unbaptised children will not go to Limbo but to Heaven, which I expressed in my recent commentary on the gospel of the feast of Christ’s baptism…."

Cantalamessa expressly rejects the existence of Limbo, which was always the common teaching of theologians until Vatican II and was affirmed against the errors of the Synod of Pisotoia by Pope Pius VI in Auctorem Fidei. Without Limbo the Church has no doctrine whatever to explain the fate of infants who die without baptism. Filling the gap he himself created, Cantalamessa concludes that such infants must go to Heaven and enjoy the Beatific Vision.

But that is not what the Catholic Church teaches. As the Catechism of the Council of Trent, or Roman Catechism, declares concerning parents who negligently delay the baptism of their newborns: "[I]nfants, unless baptized, cannot enter heaven, and hence we may well conceive how deep the enormity of their guilt, who, through negligence, suffer them to remain without the grace of the sacrament, longer than necessity may require…" The Roman Catechism was promulgated by the authority of Pope St. Pius V and reflects the constant teaching of the Church on this matter.

To whom shall we go, then: to Saint Pius V and the constant teaching of the Church or Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa and the post-Vatican II novelties he publishes on his website? Obviously, we cannot accept the opinion of Fr. Cantalamessa, which implicitly indicts the infallible teaching office of the Catholic Church for wrongly imposing guilt for centuries on parents who deprived their children of baptism.

Cantalamessa declares "that the mere idea of a God eternally depriving an innocent creature of His vision simply because another person has sinned, or because of an accidental miscarriage, makes me shudder." But what makes Cantalamessa shudder is of no concern to the Magisterium. And how does Cantalamessa know that what he views as an unjust deprivation is not, rather, a great mercy, because the unbaptized infants in Limbo are all spared the pains of hell and enjoy an eternity of natural happiness, whereas had they lived to be adults they would have been damned for personal sins committed? What sinner consigned to hell for all eternity would not yearn to be allowed entry into Limbo?

As for Cantalamessa’s inability to accept that a soul could be lost through the sin of another, or an "accidental" miscarriage, who is he is to read the inscrutable Providence of God and declare that such outcomes are not part of the divine plan from which God will draw greater good than evil, as He does with every human choice and human failure? Besides, the idea that God would never allow a soul to be lost through another’s negligence implicitly denies the responsibility of the Church’s pastors before God for that very loss of souls, rendering irrelevant the negligence of pastors and thus the entire mission of the Church.

Now it is one thing to speculate that in certain cases God might supply what is lacking in the case of an infant who dies without baptism  —  say, perhaps, by allowing the infant to attain reason and make an act of faith sufficient to constitute the "baptism of desire" of a catechumen intending to receive the sacrament. But such speculations, as Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma notes, "cannot be proved from revelation."

It is quite another thing, however, to positively affirm, as Cantalamessa does, that unbaptized infants most certainly go to Heaven, for such an opinion completely eliminates the necessity of infant baptism in contradiction to the entire teaching of the Church. Indeed, Cantalamessa’s novelty leads to the monstrous conclusion that abortion is actually a gateway to Heaven.

Confronted by this obvious objection, Cantalamessa offered the feeble argument that "I don’t think that to affirm that unbaptised babies are saved will encourage abortion. People who neglect Church doctrine on abortion are scarcely concerned about other doctrines of the same Church. Even if there were grounds for such a fear, the abuse of a doctrine should never prevent us from holding it."

The abuse of a doctrine? What doctrine? According to Cantalamessa, then, it is now a doctrine of the Catholic Church that unbaptized babies go to Heaven. Will no one stop this man from corrupting the Faith? That is just one of innumerable questions the Vatican needs to answer in this time of diabolical disorientation in the Church.