Pope Benedict XVI discounted ‘Limbo’ and reportedly Pope Francis has discounted ‘Purgatory’

Anne Catherine Emmerich


Growing up as a Roman Catholic, I was taught about Limbo and Purgatory. I was also told that certain Catholics (such as Anne Catherine Emmerich) had even been given visions of such places.

Basically, the Limbo belief was that babies who die without being baptized as Catholic will go to a place where they did not suffer, but a place (known as limbus patrum) where they also did not receive the joys of being in God’s presence.

Actually, it was the teaching of both the Catholics of Rome and the Protestants of America on the status of dead infants that got me to look more closely at the old Worldwide Church Of God, whose Philadelphian teachings are now best preserved by the Continuing Church of God, concerning matters such as what happens to babies when they die.

I was also taught about Purgatory. Purgatory is supposed to be a place that those who are Christian, but have not gone through the sacrament of confession since their last ‘venial’ sin must be purged of their sins in order to get into heaven. I was taught that some people would need to spend millions of years in purgatory to accomplish this (the length of time seemed to be related to how many sins one committed as well as how many were praying to get one out earlier).

Here is some of what the old Catholic Encyclopedia taught about Limbo:

In the New Testament, Christ refers by various names and figures to the place or state which Catholic tradition has agreed to call the limbus patrum…

The New Testament contains no definite statement of a positive kind regarding the lot of those who die in original sin without being burdened with grievous personal guilt…On the other hand, it is clear from Scripture and Catholic tradition that the means of regeneration provided for this life do not remain available after death, so that those dying unregenerate are eternally excluded from the supernatural happiness of the beatific vision (John 9:4, Luke 12:40, 16:19 sqq., 2 Corinthians 5:10…) (Toner, Patrick J. Transcribed by Simon Parent. Limbo. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IX. Published 1910. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Yet, while Limbo was a widespread Catholic belief, it was not even mentioned in the latest revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.


Probably because the latest revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church was put together under the direction of Joseph Ratzinger, who is now emeritus Pope Benedict XVI (Catechism of the Catholic Church. Imprimatur Potest +Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Doubleday, NY 1995)–he apparently did not believe in it then (or now).

Former Pope Benedict XVI had a paper put out years ago that challenged the concept of Limbo and Limbo babies. Some time back, the Catholic News Service reported:

Vatican commission: Limbo reflects ‘restrictive view of salvation’

CNS – April 20, 2007

In a document published April 20, the commission said the traditional concept of limbo — as a place where unbaptized infants spend eternity but without communion with God — seemed to reflect an “unduly restrictive view of salvation.”…

But there is greater theological awareness today that God is merciful and “wants all human beings to be saved,” it said. Grace has priority over sin, and the exclusion of innocent babies from heaven does not seem to reflect Christ’s special love for “the little ones,” it said.

“Our conclusion is that the many factors that we have considered … give serious theological and liturgical grounds for hope that unbaptized infants who die will be saved and enjoy the beatific vision,” the document said.

“We emphasize that these are reasons for prayerful hope, rather than grounds for sure knowledge,” it added.

The 41-page document, titled “The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptized,” was published in Origins, the documentary service of Catholic News Service. Pope Benedict XVI authorized its publication earlier this year…

“It must be clearly acknowledged that the church does not have sure knowledge about the salvation of unbaptized infants who die,” it said.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, was president of the commission and head of the doctrinal congregation when the commission began studying the question of limbo in a systematic way in 2004.

U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada now heads the commission and the doctrinal congregation. Cardinal Levada met with the pope to discuss the document Jan. 19 and, with the pope’s approval, authorized its publication. http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0702216.htm

Several years ago (before the Catholics took my “Hope of Salvation” title, I wrote a paper whose main title is Hope of Salvation. While I disagree with various Catholic concepts of salvation, I do agree that infants will have an opportunity for salvation.

The Telegraph of the UK ran the following headline about this on April 23, 2007: The Pope ends state of limbo after 800 years.

Here is a quote from the Vatican paper titled The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptized:

It is clear that the traditional teaching on this topic has concentrated on the theory of limbo, understood as a state which includes the souls of infants who die subject to original sin and without baptism, and who, therefore, neither merit the beatific vision, nor yet are subjected to any punishment, because they are not guilty of any personal sin. This theory, elaborated by theologians beginning in the Middle Ages, never entered into the dogmatic definitions of the Magisterium, even if that same Magisterium did at times mention the theory in its ordinary teaching up until the Second Vatican Council. It remains therefore a possible theological hypothesis. However, in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992), the theory of limbo is not mentioned. Rather, the Catechism teaches that infants who die without baptism are entrusted by the Church to the mercy of God, as is shown in the specific funeral rite for such children…

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…

24…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)…

26…Together with Catholic theologians of the Augustinian school, the Jansenists vigorously opposed the theory of Limbo…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…

90…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…

91. Where sin abounded, grace superabounded! That is the emphatic teaching of Scripture, but the idea of Limbo seems to constrain that superabundance. (The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptized. The International Theological Commission, Vatican City, April 20, 2007. at http://www.campchabad.com/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070419_un-baptised-infants_en.html#_ftn2 viewed 02/07/09)

Thus, the Vatican does not really want to teach that there is a place called Limbo, admits that it is not in the Bible, admits that it came about in the Middle Ages (hence was not an original teaching of the church), and that it does not know what prophecy teaches about what will happen to babies who die without baptism.

What about purgatory?

Last year, it was claimed that Pope Francis does not believe in it:

Christians asking is the pope still Catholic?

November 16, 2017

Is the pope Catholic?

It’s not a punch line.

It’s a question being asked about the current head of the Roman Catholic Church, Francis, who critics believe is showing signs of abandoning fundamental Catholic doctrines – including the existence of hell.

In a recent address, Pope Francis declared “everything will be saved” upon Christ’s return.

“The thought that at the end of our history there will be merciful Jesus suffices in order to have faith and not to curse life,” the pope said. “Everything will be saved. Everything.”

That would suggest the church is opening up to “universalism,” the doctrine that everyone will ultimately be given salvation, according to Eugenio Scalfari, founder of the Italian newspaper la Repubblica.

Scalfari, a major Italian journalistic and cultural influence, believes Francis has “abolished the places where souls were supposed to go after death: hell, purgatory, heaven.”

Instead, the souls dominated by evil will “cease to exist.” The pope has also been accused of even warping the words of Scripture to make God appear less judgmental. …

Pastor Carl Gallups … agrees with Catholic dissidents that the pope has thrown the Catholic Church into confusion.

“Thus far, Pope Francis appears to have thrown the Catholic Church into further confusion since his reign. We are undoubtedly living in profoundly prophetic times. How people can miss this truth, right before our eyes every day, is beyond comprehension.” http://www.wnd.com/2017/11/christians-asking-is-the-pope-still-catholic/

October 27, 2017 (Sandro Magister) — In the important newspaper “la Repubblica” of which he is the founder, Eugenio Scalfari, an undisputed authority of Italian secular thought, last October 9 returned to speaking in the following terms about what he sees as a “revolution” of this pontificate, in comments by Francis that are derived from his frequents conversations with him:

“Pope Francis has abolished the places where souls were supposed to go after death: hell, purgatory, heaven. The idea he holds is that souls dominated by evil and unrepentant cease to exist, while those that have been redeemed from evil will be taken up into beatitude, contemplating God.” https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/worlds-end-update.-the-last-things-according-to-francis

(As far as NOT going to heaven upon death, that was the position of early Christians as well as others that professed Christ like Justin Martyr, see Did Early Christians Teach They Were Going to Heaven?)

The Bible teaches that all will have an opportunity for salvation:

6 And all flesh shall see the salvation of God. (Luke 3:6)

10 And all the ends of the earth shall see The salvation of our God. (Isaiah 52:10)

9 The LORD is good to all, And His tender mercies are over all His works. (Psalm 145:8-9)

Since God is good to all, ALL will be offered salvation. But the Bible does not teach that EVERYONE will be saved.

John 3:16-17, Jesus said:

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

Notice that love is the motivator for God and this led Him to send His Son to die, thereby paying the price for our sins, so that the world may not be condemned but may be saved. This means that ALL MIGHT be saved (not that all will be saved). All will have an opportunity. God’s plan is NOT limited to a few elect like many groups teach.

One must accept salvation through Jesus to be saved (Acts 4:10-12). Here is the fate of those who will not:

28 And you should not be afraid of those killing the body but not being able to kill the soul. Indeed rather you should fear the One being able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. (Matthew 10:28, Berean Literal Bible)

2 But to you who fear My name
The Sun of Righteousness shall arise
With healing in His wings;
And you shall go out
And grow fat like stall-fed calves.
3 You shall trample the wicked,
For they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet
On the day that I do this,”
Says the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 4:2-3)

20 But for you who fear my name, the Sun of justice will rise with healing in his rays, and you will come out leaping like calves from the stall,

21 and trample on the wicked, who will be like ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I act, says Yahweh Sabaoth. (Malachi 3:20-21, New Jerusalem Bible)

The wicked, who will not repent and truly accept Jesus will be destroyed.

Pope Francis, himself, is helping set up the end time for the rise of the final Antichrist–and that seems to be consistent with both biblical and even certain Roman Catholic prophecies.

Now, unlike Limbo, purgatory is part of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Here is what the Vatican’s website shows about this:


1030 All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.

1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.606 The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:607

As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.608

1032 This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: “Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.”609 From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God.610 The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:

Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.611

Notice that the doctrine of purgatory was not defined until the Councils of Florence and Trent. The Council of Florence was in the mid-15th century, while the Council of Trent was in the early 16th century.

The Catholic Encyclopedia itself admits that early Christians did not teach its current concept of its purgatory doctrine:

Some stress too has been laid upon the objection that the ancient Christians had no clear conception of purgatory, and that they thought that the souls departed remained in uncertainty of salvation to the last day … There are several passages in the New Testament that point to a process of purification after death. Thus, Jesus Christ declares (Matthew 12:32): “And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but he that shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in the world to come”…(Hanna, Purgatory. The Catholic Encyclopedia).

Obviously, then, purgatory was NOT an original Christian doctrine. Also, though not quite the way the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches it, God does have a plan to forgive in the age to come:

32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. (Matthew 12:32)

The above has nothing to do with a place called Purgatory. More on the “age to come” can be found in the articles Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis and What is the Unpardonable Sin?

Actually, purgatory is one of the doctrines that the Eastern Orthodox and the Protestants do not embrace. It may be that Pope Francis’ views on salvation may modify the purgatorial doctrine to the point it is irrelevant or at least acceptable to those that it wishes to ecumenically unify with.

Unlike the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant churches, we in the Continuing Church of God teach that the unsaved, babies as well as all who have not blasphemed the Holy Spirit, will be resurrected (Revelation 20:5, 11-12), live a physical life, and will be offered salvation (cf. Isaiah 65:20). Salvation in the kingdom of God will be offered to all, but has not been offered to all in this age (for more information please see the article Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the True Doctrine of Apocatastasis).

Those uncalled now (including babies, toddlers, nearly all idolaters and others) will be given a real opportunity for salvation. This period of time is believed to be around 100 years. Isaiah 65:20 states,

20 No more shall an infant from there live but a few days, Nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days; For the child shall die one hundred years old, But the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed.

Those who are still sinners after this period will also undergo the punishment of being cast into the lake of fire–but note that those who are infants have 100 years to fulfill their days.

And although he may not have understood it correctly, Irenaeus (circa 180 A.D.) mentioned that the Gentiles will be called as well during this hundred year time:

Daniel also says this very thing: “And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of those under the heaven, is given to the saints of the Most High God, whose kingdom is everlasting, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him.” And lest the promise named should be understood as referring to this time, it was declared to the prophet: “And come thou, and stand in thy lot at the consummation of the days.”

Now, that the promises were not announced to the prophets and the fathers alone, but to the Churches united to these from the nations, whom also the Spirit terms “the islands” (both because they are established in the midst of turbulence, suffer the storm of blasphemies, exist as a harbour of safety to those in peril, and are the refuge of those who love the height [of heaven], and strive to avoid Bythus, that is, the depth of error), Jeremiah thus declares: “Hear the word of the LORD, ye nations, and declare it to the isles afar off; say ye, that the LORD will scatter Israel, He will gather him, and keep him, as one feeding his flock of sheep…

And yet again does he say the same thing: “Behold, I make Jerusalem a rejoicing, and my people [a joy]; for the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. Also there shall not be there any immature [one], nor an old man who does not fulfil his time: for the youth shall be of a hundred years; and the sinner shall die a hundred years old, yet shall be accursed. And they shall build houses, and inhabit them themselves; and shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them themselves, and shall drink wine. And they shall not build, and others inhabit; neither shall they prepare the vineyard, and others eat. For as the days of the tree of life shall be the days of the people in thee; for the works of their hands shall endure” (Irenaeus. Adversus haereses, Book V, Chapter 34, Verses 2-3,4. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

More on the above can be found in the article Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God Differs from Protestantism.

There are no actual places such as Limbo or Purgatory.

Even the Church of Rome is somewhat recognizing this. It also admits that Limbo is not in the Bible, and did not happen to enter Catholicism until the Middle Ages. It also basically teaches the same thing about purgatory (though it points to the non-canonical Book of Maccabees as proof–though that book does not actually teach purgatory as commonly understood by Roman Catholics).

The idea behind Limbo/Purgatory that God is love (1 John 4:8,16) and God will not punish those who cannot see (John 9:41) is correct. It is simply that those places do not exist, and God has a better plan than having people in those theorized places.

The Bible teaches that babies that die will be resurrected and will ultimately be given a chance for salvation.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:
What is Limbo? Is There Such a Place as Limbo? What Happens to Babies When They Die? When did Limbo start being taught? What is the truth about dead babies? Here is a link to the video: Popes Change on Limbo and Purgatory?
Did the Early Church Teach Purgatory? Is there a place called purgatory? Does God have a plan to help those who did not become saints in this life?
Waldensian Treatise on Antichrist These are translated extracts from a likely 13th/14th century paper titled A Treatise concerning Antichrist, Purgatory, the Invocation of Saints, and the Sacraments.
Why Should American Catholics Fear Unity with the Orthodox? (And the Protestants) Are the current ecumenical meetings a good thing or will they result in disaster? Is doctrinal compromise good? Here is a link to a related video Should you be concerned about the ecumenical movement?
Will the Interfaith Movement Lead to Peace or Sudden Destruction? Is the interfaith movement going to lead to lasting peace or is it warned against? A video sermon of related interest is: Will the Interfaith Movement lead to World War III? and a video sermon is also available: Do You Know That Babylon is Forming?
What Happens After Death? Is death like sleep, or is that a cultic idea? Can you speak to the dead? Here is a link to a related sermon: What really happens after death?
Universal Offer of Salvation: There Are Hundreds of Verses in the Bible Supporting the Doctrine of True Apocatastasis Do you believe what the Bible actually teaches on this? Will all good things be restored? Will God call everyone? Will everyone have an opportunity for salvation? Does God’s plan of salvation take rebellion and spiritual blindness into account? Related sermon videos include Universal Offer of Salvation I: God is love and Universal Offer of Salvation II: The Age to Come and the ‘Little Flock’ and Universal Offer of Salvation III: All Are to Know Jesus, But When? and Universal Offer of Salvation IV: Will the Guilty be Pardoned? and Universal Offer of Salvation V: All Israel Will be Saved? A version of the main article was also translated in the Spanish language: Oferta universal de salvación: Hay cientos de versículos en la Biblia que apoyan la verdadera doctrina de la Apocatastasis.
Did the Early Church Teach Purgatory? Is there a place called purgatory? Does God have a plan to help those who did not become saints in this life?
Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God differ from most Protestants How the Living Church of God differs from mainstream/traditional Protestants, is perhaps the question I am asked most by those without a Church of God background.
What Can We Learn from Private “Catholic” Prophecies? There have been those claiming Catholicism over the centuries that have accurately predicted many events, as well as have made many errors. What might Catholic prophecies reveal about the future? Will an antipope help take over the world?
Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Apparitions Do you know much about Mary? Are the apparitions real? What might they mean? Are Protestants moving towards Mary? How might Mary view them?
Do Certain Catholic Prophecies About Antichrist Warn Against Jesus? Will the final “Anti-Christ” be Jewish, insist on Saturday, be opposed to the trinity, and bring in the millennium? Catholic writings indicate this, but what does the Bible show?
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Continuing Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui? Here is a link to a short animation: Which Church would Jesus Choose?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, French: L Histoire Continue de l Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.

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