I would be interested in hearing those quotes if you are able to find them. I didn't think for a minute that the Catholic Church was the only Church that changed its understanding of a few things over the years...I just had no idea where to begin to find examples of Orthodox teachings that change. I believe, actually, that there is change occurring within the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod as well. There are pastors now that are beginning to say things such as "I can't tell you that an unbaptized baby is in hell" and things like that. I think whenever there is a teaching that is absurd, like believing unbaptized babies go to hell or that they go to limbo, it is only a matter of time before people start doubting it. Eventually, the doubt is so widespread that it causes people to stop and reevaluate the teaching.
I'm not as easily shocked as you might think. I went to Lutheran school as a child and was taught that unbaptized infants likely go to hell. I'm glad that the Catholic Church "toned down" earlier popular beliefs regarding the fate of unbaptized infants because they are as false as the Lutheran belief that unbaptized babies are thrown into the lake of fire.
I agree Father Ambrose that the teachings of the RCC seem hard to follow as they change over time. Here is an interesting reading from an old work that I have:
"Original sin, as St. Paul has told us, is universal. Every child is, therefore, defiled at its birth with the taint of Adam's disobedience. Now the scripture says that nothing defiled can enter the kingdom of heaven. Hence Baptism, which washes away original sin, is as essential for the infant as for the full grown man in order to attain the kingdom of heaven...But is not that a cruel and heartless doctrine which excludes from heaven so many harmless babes that have never committed any actual fault? To this I reply: Has not God declared that Baptism is necessary for all?...If your child is deprived of heaven by being deprived of Baptism, God does it no wrong because He infringes no right to which your child had any inalienable title.
If your child obtains the grace of Baptism be thankful for the gift...Though the Church, in obedience to God's word. declares that unbaptized infants are excluded from the kingdom of heaven, it should not hence be concluded that they are consigned to the place of the reprobate...All the the Church holds on this point is that the unregenerate children are deprived of the beatific vision, or the possession of God, which constitutes the essential happiness of the blessed."
James Cardinal Gibbons, Archbishop of Baltimore. The Faith of Our Fathers: Being a Plain Exposition and Vindication of the Church Founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ. Baltimore: John Murphy Co., 1906. pp. 310-312. Print.
I own both old and newer RC works and the differences are quite apparent as they tone-down many earlier teachings.
Yes, this used to be the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, as recently as 40 years ago -shocking as it must be for Wyatt and younger Catholics today.
This quote triggered some things about old Orthodox works and I am looking for some of my father's books from the 1940's as I recall that there are a number of passages from some of the Orthodox catechisms and pamphlets used in that day that contain language and phrasing that we would not use today. I seem to recall that some of the seminal works of the late Archpriest Michael G.H. Gelsinger, a noted Orthodox priest of that era and a giant in the history of the Antiochian Orthodox Church come to mind although I haven't seen them since my college days as well as publications by ROCOR and others from that era. If I find them I will give some quotes, but finding them is an issue.
I'm thankful that limbo is no longer the status quo teaching of the Catholic Church. If it was I doubt that I would be Catholic today. In RCIA we were told that we entrust the souls of unbaptized infants to the mercy of God and that was it...end of discussion. I think that's about right where the discussion should end.
Your post, Wyatt, and several others here, have brought to my mind the issue of the difference between what is dogma
, what is doctrine
, what is Magisterial teaching
, what is theological opinion
, what is just plain opinion
, what is pious belief
, and what is one thing but mistaken as something else
. I know that I, personally, don't feel qualified to discuss this intelligently but I know others here, such as you, Mary, Papist, etc. are probably more than up to the task
I bring it up because a number of Orthodox, and probably not a few Catholics, too, seem to confuse these things and do mistake them for what they are not, thus claiming that we Catholics hold as doctrine or dogma something that isn't. Hope I'm making sense here
It seems to me that this may be what makes it difficult for some, especially Orthodox, to know what it is we, as Catholics, believe. If one is unable to differentiate one of those things from the rest, or just chooses not to, or purposely mixes them up, it would make it difficult to know what we believe. Also, my take on it is pretty simple--if one wants to know what we believe, then look first to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. If that's not clear, then there are other places to look for clarification. If one wants to know what was taught 100, or 200, or 300, or 1000 years ago, there are places to look for that. If one then finds a discrepancy between what is being taught now compared to what was taught in the past, or what may look to be a discrepancy but actually isn't
, my own **opinion** about it is--what does the Catechism of the Catholic Church say? But that's **just me** and I don't like to over complicate things.
While I'm here, there's a quote I came across while searching for something totally unrelated that I think might be interesting and relevant, not just in this thread, but in many others. Unfortunately, I don't have the link. Hopefully that won't be a problem! Anyway, here it is, fwiw:"In The Catholic Way by Bishop [now Cardinal] Donald Wuerl he says, "Theologians and scholars teach the word and help the Church to penetrate its full meaning. They are not official teachers in the way that bishops, the successors of the apostles, are; theologians do not receive with the bishops that "sure gift of truth" (Dei Verbum para. #8) that apostolic witnesses to faith receive. But they are important companions of faith, for bishops look to scholars for appropriate assistance in understanding divine revelation.""