The Church has given us no teaching on the eternal fate of these babies.
The view of St.Thomas Aquinas has been widely accepted, never rejected by
Here is the his position:
1) On the one hand, there is no positive suffering for the babies, or they
have no personal guilt. This is confirmed by Pope Pius IX, in "Quanto
conficiamur moerore," August 10, 1863 (DS 2866) "God in His supreme
goodness and clemency, by no means allows anyone to be punished with
eternal punishments who does not have the guilt of voluntary fault."
2) On the other hand, their souls seem to lack the transformation by grace
needed for the Beatific Vision.So they cannot have it.But they have a
natural happiness, and do not miss what they do not have.
Toward a Solution:
1) God has the power to remedy this lack of grace even without a Sacrament.
St. Thomas Aquinas, in Summa II. 68.2.c. wrote that God "is not bound to the
Therefore God could supply that grace outside of Baptism. He did it in the
case of the Holy Innocents.
2) Does He actually provide the remedy?
(1) Theologians commonly hold that God provided for the salvation of those
who died before Christ in some way. As to the Hebrews, circumcision seems
to have been the means for boys, but not of course for girls. (Cf. St.
Thomas ST III.62. ad 3). But the theological opinion just mentioned
extended also to those outside the Hebrew people.
(2) St. Paul in Romans 3.28-30 says that if God hd not provided for those
who did not know the Mosaic Law, He would not be their God. So, Paul
concludes, He must have done so, and did it through the regime of faith.
Would Paul argue similarly for unbaptized infants? Likely.
(3) St. Paul, in 1 Cor 7.14 says that the pagan partner married to a
Christian is made holy through union with the Christian, "Otherwise your
children would be unclean, but as it is,they are holy." "Holy" reflects
Hebrew "qadosh," set aside for God by the covenant. So the pagan partner
and the children did come under the covenant.
(4) God shows great concern for the objective moral order (cf. "Our
Father's Plan," chapter 4. For example, in the Gospel description of the
Last Judgment, Jesus does not accept the excuse of those who say they did
not know it was Jesus in the poor, etc. He pays attention only to the
objective fact. Cf. also Leviticus 4, 1 Cor. 4.4, and all instances of
Does He also will to rectify the objective physical order?
In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Abraham explains (Lk 16.25):
"Remember that you in your lifetime received good things, and Lazarus in
like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in
anguish." Of course the rich man had violated charity--but that is not
mentioned. Only the reversal and physical rectification is mentioned. The
woes in Luke 6:24-26 seem similar.
Conclusion: In view of all the above, God may well speak thus of the
aborted babies: "These infants have been deprived of everything in the
normal objective order they should have had, even of a chance for birth.
Instead, without deserving it, they have been torn apart or cut up alive.
So it is right to make up for that. They suffered evil, like Lazarus. Now
they should be comforted. I showed concern for the rebalancing the
objective physical order in the case of Lazarus. I made provision for the
eternal salvation of people before Christ. St. Paul argues in Romans 3.28-
30 that if I did not, I would not be their God. I revealed through St.
Paul, in 1 Cor 7.14, that a pagan partner in marriage is brought under the
covenant merely from being united to the Christian, and similarly the
children. So it is right for me to provide grace to these children even
outside of the Sacrament. My hands are not bound by the Sacraments."
What if Limbo? If our deductions are not correct, then the babies would be
in Limbo, which,as St.Thomas Aquinas said, involves no pain, and is such
that the babies do not even know what they have missed (St. Thomas, "De
Malo" q. 5, a. 3 ad 4). We might compare two persons: one whose tastes are
not highly refined, who is completely happy with a ballgame and popcorn;
the other whose ability to enjoy things has been refined: he will be
satisfied only with the most artistic things. Similarly the babies, lacking
the refinement of the power to know given by grace, will be fully
satisfied,and not know what they have missed.
If Limbo be the answer,will they be separated from parents who have reached
Heaven and the Vision of God? No, for two reasons: 1) Heaven is not
essentially a place, but a state. You could have two persons side by side,
even in a place, such that one is enjoying interiorly the divine vision,
the other is not. They can be together, yet in different states. 2) God
does satisfy every legitimate desire of those who reach heaven. (Cf. Apoc.
21.4: "He [God] shall wipe away every tear from their eyes.") Parents who
deeply want their children of Limbo will not be separated from them. Limbo
and heaven are most basically states more than places. And even as to
place, after resurrection, bodies will be like the the Risen Body of Jesus,
who came to see the Apostles locked in an upper room. He simply ignored the
door, did not bother to open it by a miracle. Risen bodies are not bound by
Objection: The Council of Florence in 1439 taught (DS 1306): "The souls of
those who depart in actual mortal sin or only original sin descend into the
realm of the dead (infernum), to be punished however with unequal
Reply: 1) The word "poena" in Latin need not always be the same as English
"pain" - it can mean merely deprivation of something. As we saw above, Pius
IX taught that God does not allow anyone to be punished with eternal
punishments without the guilt of personal fault.
Vatican II, "On ecumenism" #6, taught that if any language in older
teachings is in need of improvement, it should be improved. Such is the
case here, at least if we do not think of the difference of Latin "poena"
and English pain. Paul VI in "Mysterium fidei" did not contradict the
Council, but said that the older texts are not untrue in themselves, if
2) The word "infernum" in Latin means merely the realm of the dead, not
hell in the English sense. Cf. the Creed in which we read that after His
death, Jesus "descended into hell"- the archaic English use of the word.
3) Our reasoning above tends to show that the aborted babies, and probably
other unbaptized babies also, are given grace by God outside the Sacrament
of Baptism, and so do not depart this world in original sin, which is
merely the lack of grace that should be there.