Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, Session 6, ex cathedra: "But the souls of those who depart this life in actual mortal sin, or in original sin alone, go down straightaway to hell to be punished, but with unequal pains."
Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, Session 11, ex cathedra: "With regard to children, since the danger of death is often present and the only remedy available to them is the sacrament of baptism by which they are snatched away from the dominion of the devil and adopted as children of God, it admonishes that sacred baptism is not to be deferred ..."
So the Limbo that one is free to believe unbaptized infants go into when they die is a part of hell. However, some have chosen to believe also that there is no fire in Limbo, and often cite a teaching of Pope Pius VI for support. But Pope Pius VI did not teach Limbo without fire, as some people would have you think, in the following decree:
Pope Pius VI, Auctorem Fidei, #26: "The doctrine which rejects as a Pelagian fable, that place of the lower regions (which the faithful generally designate by the name of the limbo of children) in which the souls of those departing with the sole guilt of original sin are punished with the punishment of the condemned, exclusive of the punishment of fire, just as if, by this very fact, that these who remove the punishment of fire introduced that middle place and state free of guilt and of punishment between the kingdom of God and eternal damnation, such as that about which the Pelagians idly talk,—false, rash, injurious to Catholic schools."
The important things to note here are that he does not condemn anything as heretical, and neither does he condemn any and all doctrines which reject limbo, but only that which does so on a certain premise, as indicated by the words "just as if, by this very fact, that these who remove the punishment of fire introduced that middle place..."
He likely said this because the Thomistic understanding of limbo was one in which the souls of unbaptized infants went to hell, though they did not suffer fire, as opposed to going to some middle place between heaven and hell. He may have believed, however erroneously, that one was free to accept limbo, so long as they did not believe it to be in some middle place, although this is only conjecture, and there is no proof that that is what he thought. What we do know for certain is that he condemned the doctrine that insisted limbo must be rejected because it must necessarily means a middle place. This decree of Pope Pius VI simply asserts that just because one believes in limbo does not necessarily mean that they believe in a middle place between heaven and hell, but it does not actually define, teach or decree that limbo without fire is either a dogma, or even an allowable opinion in itself.
If Pope Pius VI believed that limbo was a dogma of the Faith, he would have condemned any and all doctrines (not only the foundational premise of only one particular such doctrine) which reject it, and he would have condemned them as heretical and not just as false, rash, etc.
An example is Auctorem Fidei #2, which states: "The proposition which states "that power has been given by God to the Church, that it might be communicated to the pastors who are its ministers for the salvation of souls"; if thus understood that the power of ecclesiastical ministry and of rule is derived from the COMMUNITY of the faithful to the pastors,—heretical."
So nobody can argue from this decree of Auctorem Fidei that Pope Pius VI believed that limbo is a dogma of the Catholic Faith, or that he necessarily even believe in it at all. Again, it cannot be said that he was explicitly teaching its existence, since it is implicit in the very words of #26 that one is still free to reject a fireless limbo on other premises, provided they are the correct premises. The fact is we are bound to reject a fireless limbo on the premise that it contradicts the dogma that all who die outside the Church will go into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, Session 11, AD 1442: "It firmly believes, professes and preaches that all those who are outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans but also Jews or heretics and schismatics, cannot share in eternal life and will go into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless they are joined to the Catholic Church before the end of their lives;"
Unbaptized infants are included in "all those who are outside the Catholic Church", and thus will go into the eternal fire. It is really that simple. Pope Pius VI did not deny this teaching, as reading his words carefully will show. It is quite probable that he believed unbaptized infants suffer no fire, but his words do not univocally say so, and there would be no contradiction at all if at the end of Auctorem Fidei #26, he had added: "However the belief in that place of the lower regions (which the faithful generally designate by the name of the limbo of children) in which the souls of those departing with the sole guilt of original sin are punished with the punishment of the condemned, exclusive of the punishment of fire, just as if, by this very fact, that these who remove the punishment of fire denied the Council of Florence, -heretical."
However, since he most likely believed that unbaptized infants suffer no fire, he did not state this. His words are not heretical, but leave open a very big gap that can only be filled by accepting firmly and faithfully the teaching of Pope Eugene IV at the Council of Florence. The most we can do is speculate that he may have believed material heresy, not having taken note of the definition from Florence. However there is no way to prove from the objective sense of the text that he definitely did believe in or teach limbo, and as such he cannot have been called a public heretic, who lost office in the Catholic Church.
Some saints taught this truth:
Saint Fulgentius: “The quality of an evil life begins with lack of faith, which takes its beginnings from the guilt of original sin. In it, each one begins to live in such a way that, before he ends his life, which is ended when freed from its bonds, if that soul has lived in the body for the space of one day or one hour, it is necessary that it suffer with that same body the endless punishments of Hell, where the devil with his angles will burn forever. […] Hold most firmly and never doubt that, not only adults with the use of reason but also children who either begin to live in the womb of their mothers and who die there or, already born from their mothers, pass from this world without the sacrament of holy baptism, must be punished with the endless penalty of eternal fire. Even if they have no sin from their actions, still, by their carnal conception and birth, they have contracted the damnation of original sin.” (To Peter on the Faith 36, 70)
Not to mention, the Council of Carthage also proclaimed this.
Seventeenth Council of Carthage, AD 419: "[Also it seemed good, that if anyone should say that the saying of the Lord, "In my Father's house are many mansions" is to be understood as meaning that in the kingdom of heaven there will be a certain middle place, or some place somewhere, in which infants live in happiness who have gone forth from this life without baptism, without which they cannot enter the kingdom of heaven, which is eternal life, let him be anathema. For after our Lord has said: "Except a man be born again of water and of the Holy Spirit he shall not enter the kingdom of heaven," what Catholic can doubt that he who has not merited to be coheir with Christ shall become a sharer with the devil: for he who fails of the right hand without doubt shall receive the left hand portion.]"
Finally, there is no disputing with the words of St. Gregory the Great:
Pope St. Gregory the Great, Moralia (Morals on the Book of Job, Volume 1) 9: 32: “For there be some that are withdrawn from the present light, before they attain to shew forth the good or evil deserts of an active life. And whereas the Sacraments of salvation do not free them from the sin of their birth, at the same time that here they never did aright by their own act; there they are brought to torment. And these have one wound, viz. to be born in corruption, and another, to die in the flesh. But forasmuch as after death there also follows, death eternal, by a secret and righteous judgment ‘wounds are multiplied to them without cause.’ For they even receive everlasting torments, who never sinned by their own will. And hence it is written, Even the infant of a single day is not pure in His sight upon earth. Hence ‘Truth’ says by His own lips, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Hence Paul says, We were by nature the children of wrath even as others. He then that adding nothing of his own is mined by the guilt of birth alone, how stands it with such an one at the last account, as far as the calculation of human sense goes, but that he is ‘wounded without cause?’ And yet in the strict account of God it is but just that the stock of mortality, like an unfruitful tree, should preserve in the branches that bitterness which it drew from the root. Therefore he says, For He shall break me with a tempest, and multiply my wounds without cause. As if reviewing the woes of mankind he said in plain words; ‘With what sort of visitation does the strict Judge mercilessly slay those, whom the guilt of their own deeds condemns, if He smites for all eternity even those, whom the guilt of deliberate choice does not impeach?’”
This article is one in an important series on The Dimonds' soul damning errors.
I have recently received the objection that "Florence does not state that ALL outside the Church go into the fire, but only 'those' listed in the decree, namely pagans, Jews, heretics and schismatics."
First of all, this objection, which is solely based on the word "those", and tries to equate it to the word "these", and which suggests that the definition is deliberately limiting itself to "these" groups of people mentioned, is actually quibbling about a word that does not even exist in the original language of the definition, which is Latin.
Wikipedia, Article (grammar), Variation among languages: "Linguists believe the common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, Proto Indo-European, did not have articles. Most of the languages in this family do not have definite or indefinite articles; there is no article in Latin [...]
"The words this and that (and their plurals, these and those) can be understood in English as, ultimately, forms of the definite article the (whose declension in Old English included thaes, an ancestral form of this/that and these/those)."
Here is the Latin text, to further drive the point home:
extra ecclesiam catholicam existentes
this should be pretty obvious to any English speaker. "Outside church catholic existing"
non solum = not only
sed nec = but also, not to mention, nor
atque = as well as, together with, moreover/even
eterne vite fieri posse participes
eternal life made able participate
sed ignem eternum
but eternal fire
So to sum it up, the definition does not (cannot) actually have the word those or these. The translators who put it into English were not translating word for word, but, at least attempted a translation of sense for sense. If we were to adopt a more literal translation that is more word for word than the Tanner Edition of the Ecumenical Council's which is quoted, then we would end up with this:
"None existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews, or heretics together with schismatics , are made able to participate in eternal life, but go into eternal fire, etc."
But to drive the point home even further, let us consider the various groups mentioned:
Pagans, i.e. those who worship idols.
Jews, i.e. those who cling sinfully to the obsolete Old Law (or to the Talmud).
Heretics, i.e. those baptized persons who fraudulently maintain the name of Christian despite denying the doctrine of Christ.
Schismatics, i.e. those baptized persons who fraudulently maintain the name of Christian, who reject the authority of the Church or who adulterously commune in religious matters with heretics.
So according to the above decree, then (if we were to accept the already refuted position of the heretics who say that the word "those" makes some kind of intelligible difference in the dogmatic definition), ONLY pagans, Jews, heretics and schismatics are said to go into the fire.
So the heretics who make this claim need to say one of two things:
1) To be consistent, they must either say that the Council of Florence's definition does not include apostates, properly so-called, who do not technically fit the definition of the above. They are not schismatics or heretics, since they no longer claim to be Christian (heretics and schismatics do). Nor does it include atheists, since they worship neither idols, nor practice the old law, nor have many of them even been baptized, let alone do they claim to be Christian. They would have to say it does not apply to deists, because these recognize that there is a sovereign God, but simply do not profess to know His identity, nor do they worship idols.
As a result of this inevitable misunderstanding of the Council of Florence, they cannot claim that it is heresy to say "deists, atheists and apostates don't go into the fire of hell", in reference to the definition.
2) They can admit that nullos means "no", "none", "not any", and therefore, the dogmatic definition is to be believed as it was declared, namely to say that none of those existing outside the Church may participate in everlasting life, but go into eternal fire.
Quick refresher: How many ways are there into the Church? One. Baptism ALONE. So it should really be a simple case of applying right reason, which will never contradict the dogmatic definitions of faith and vice versa. None of those who have not entered the Church through the gate of Baptism can attain eternal life, but will go into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels, unless they are joined to the Church through Baptism before the end of their lives, whether man or woman, young or old, genius or imbecile, elder or infant.
What Must You Do To Get to Heaven?