未洗礼の者或いは異教徒の善人は「煉獄（limbo）」にて過ごすとされてきたが、この「煉獄（limbo）」というのは今に至るまでカトリックの正式の教義には編入されていないということを改めて知る。この経緯については、やはり「うに」さんが紹介されている、John Thavis “Vatican commission: Limbo reflects 'restrictive view of salvation'”*1の方が詳しいのだが、そこでは、
Pope revises stance on limbo held for centuries
By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press | April 21, 2007
VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI has reversed centuries of traditional Roman Catholic teaching on limbo, approving a Vatican report released yesterday that says there were "serious" grounds to hope that children who die without being baptized can go to heaven.
Theologians said the move was highly significant -- both for what it says about Benedict's willingness to buck a long-standing tenet of Catholic belief and for what it means theologically about the Church's views on heaven, hell, and original sin -- the sin that the faithful believe all children are born with.
Although Catholics have long believed that children who die without being baptized are with original sin and thus excluded from heaven, the Church has no formal doctrine on the matter. Theologians have long taught that such children enjoy an eternal state of perfect natural happiness, a state commonly called limbo, but without being in communion with God.
"If there's no limbo and we're not going to revert to St. Augustine's teaching that unbaptized infants go to hell, we're left with only one option, namely, that everyone is born in the state of grace," said the Rev. Richard McBrien, professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame.
"Baptism does not exist to wipe away the 'stain' of original sin, but to initiate one into the Church," he said in an e-mail.
Benedict approved the findings of the International Theological Commission, a Vatican advisory panel, which said it was reassessing traditional teaching on limbo in light of "pressing" pastoral needs -- primarily the growing number of abortions and infants born to nonbelievers who die without being baptized.
While the report does not carry the authority of a papal encyclical or even the weight of a formal document from the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, it was approved by the pope on Jan. 19 and was published on the Internet -- an indication that it was intended to be widely read.
"We can say we have many reasons to hope that there is salvation for these babies," the Rev. Luis Ladaria, a Jesuit who is the commission's secretary-general, told The Associated Press. He stressed that there was no certainty, just hope.
Limbo has never been defined as church dogma and is not mentioned in the current Catechism of the Catholic Church, which states simply that unbaptized infants are entrusted to God's mercy.
But limbo has long been regarded as the common teaching of the church. In the modern age, "people find it increasingly difficult to accept that God is just and merciful if he excludes infants, who have no personal sins, from eternal happiness," the new document said.
In the fifth century, St. Augustine concluded that infants who die without baptism were consigned to hell. By the 13th century, theologians referred to the "limbo of infants" as a place where unbaptized babies were deprived of the vision of God, but did not suffer because they did not know what they were deprived of.
Through the centuries, popes and church councils were careful not to define limbo as a doctrine of the faith and to leave the question open. That was important in allowing an evolution of the teaching, the theological commission said.
ところで、「未洗礼の赤子」と「基督」との結びつきのひとつの在り方として、ヘロデ王に虐殺された赤子たちの話が援用されている――”A solidarity with Christ among infant victims of violence, born and unborn, who like the holy innocents killed by King Herod are endangered by the "fear or selfishness of others."”