News Item:
Catholic Church dumps Limbo

There are two versions of Limbo that I’ve been aware of in my lifetime.  One was made famous by Chubby Checker in 1962, with his hit single, The Limbo Rock.  Chances are you were exposed to that at some point in your life, either as a child or an adult.  The song was tied to a dance which resembled a gymnastic competition.  Two people would hold a pole [usually a broomstick] a couple of feet above the ground, while others tried to shimmy under the pole without falling on their backs.  Children would participate for the sheer fun of it.  Adults would try it out at either a party or barbeque, when most likely there was alchohol involved.  It’s possible the Catholic Church frowned on this display, but I don’t think they ever banned it.  Either way, it doesn’t matter, because that’s not the Limbo we’re talking about.

The Church has long had a tradition of baptizing new born children, to ensure their entrance into heaven.  This was deemed necessary because of the idea of original sin, wherein no one is born completely pure.  Baptism would wash that sin away.  All the way back in the 5th century AD, St. Augustine declared that unbaptized souls went straight to hell, which made Baptism that much more imperative.  Even as early as the Middle Ages though, that doctrine seemed a bit harsh.  It wasn’t the babies fault it hadn’t been baptized, so why the eternal damnation?  A classic case of paying for the sins of the father, it seemed, not really fair at all.  So a way station of sorts came into play, an in between place called Limbo.

It wasn’t hell by a long shot, but it wasn’t heaven either.  More like waiting for that delayed flight at the airport.  For roughly the last 1000 years or so, souls have waited, and waited, and waited.  The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel?  As of this past Friday, Limbo is on its way out, at least according to a document issued by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.  It’s not completely gone, but the Bishops have decided there has to be a better way to deal with the unbaptized.

Full Story: LA Times

Cartoon from Sid in the City

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