Ask an Apostle: My priest says limbo is real

Teresa Coda answers your questions this week.
Catholic Voices

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Q: My priest keeps talking about limbo and purgatory. Don’t such teachings fall into the discarded stuff after Vatican II? How should I address this with him?

—Sick of the limbo schtick

A: Let me start by giving you a technical and not particularly interesting answer to the first part of your question. In 1992, the theory of limbo was removed from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which now explains that the church entrusts children who have not been baptized to the great mercy of God. Whew! It turns out that none of us really like to imagine babies being eternally separated from God’s love just because of their bad earthly luck. As for purgatory, the concept of this “place” for final purification is still technically embraced by the church, though I’ll admit that I’ve never heard a homily on the topic. It sounds like to get one of those I need to visit your church!


Regardless of the status of teachings like limbo and purgatory, if your pastor’s harping on the topics troubles you, I’m one to advocate for addressing your concern in the form of a question. Why not invite your pastor over for a meal or schedule a meeting with him and broach the topic by saying something along the lines of: “You seem to talk about limbo and purgatory a lot. I find myself uncomfortable with this. Can you tell me more about why these concepts matter so much to you?” Asking a question is a brilliant way to demonstrate your concern in a non-accusatory manner, learn something new, and hopefully increase understanding between two people with different views.

About the author

Teresa Coda

Teresa Coda works in parish faith formation. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two young daughters.

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