Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

The Best of The Question Box

by Father I.J. Mikulski

(From the Aug. 16, 2012 edition of the Inland Register)

Father I.J. Mikulski Q. How can we know that souls of un-baptized children can enter heaven to be forever with God if they die with what we called “no fault baptism of desire”? That was the answer when I was in Catholic school. It’s been many years since I heard or read anything about our answer of limbo. What is the answer, please?

A. Limbo is an implausible solution to an unaccountable question. The word itself gives it away. It’s derived from the Latin word for border, edge, limit. Limbo became literally a borderline case. Scholastic theologians, who never met an issue they could not subdivide, debated limbo for centuries and a few Jansenist types pursued that idea right into borderline heresy.

Limbo was proposed as a natural holding area for un-baptized infants, children and also for developmentally disabled un-baptized adults. That prompted John Milton to call limbo a “Paradise of fools.”

Limbo was never a defined doctrine. The Catechism of the Catholic Church doesn’t even mention the word. Here’s the CCC position: (1257 - 1261) “As regards children who have died without baptism the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved and Jesus’ tenderness towards children which caused him to say: “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them” allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism ... allow us to hope there is a way.”

Where is it written that we will know everything?

Q. We grew up right after the Vatican Council was finishing so we heard a lot of different things about the church’s stands on everything, even the new way of Mass. We can’t remember before that. We wonder if there might be more shake-ups. Will you explain Catholic Councils?

A. There are councils and there are councils. If we spread them over the span of 20 centuries we have had them in sizes huge, medium and small, depending on their purposes. Not all councils are equally binding.

An ecumenical council is a major event, an assembly of the college of bishops under the presidency of the pope, which has the supreme authority of the church is all matters of faith, morals, worship, discipline. We have had 21 such meetings, beginning with the council of Nicaea in Turkey (325) with about 300 bishops, survivors of terrible persecutions. You remember Vatican Two. Vatican One was in 1870.

A plenary council is a meeting of all the bishops in a particular country. The last one we had was the Third Plenary Council held in Baltimore, Md., in 1884.

Bishops in the U.S.A. now have two meetings, spring and fall, to discuss, listen to, make decisions affecting our Catholic Church.

A diocesan council, more properly called a synod, is a gathering of bishops and priests to discuss matters of faith and practice within their diocese. Its decisions are strictly advisory.

Q. Is it true that St. Paul did not know St. Luke, author of the third Gospel? What I always took for granted, now a teacher of Holy Scripture has got me questioning. How do we know that?

A. You should ask the teacher how he or she dismissed 1,900 years of irrefutable Catholic tradition, beginning with the words of Paul: “I have no one with me but Luke” (2 Tim 4:11). And Paul’s words that Luke is one of my “fellow workers” (Phil. 1:24). And Paul’s testimony that “Luke, our dear physician, sends you greetings” (Col. 4:14). Skeptics may say that’s a different Luke but you can say that’s a different Paul.

Q. I’ve seen surveys that refer to “unchurched” people. Who are they?

A. Every religious denomination has some fringe folks. A person who is not a member of any church, synagogue or mosque or is a member who has not been inside a church, synagogue or mosque for at least six months, except for Christmas, Easter, High Holy Days or Ramadan.

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