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Augustine ever taught that original sin of itself involved any severer penalty after death than exclusion from the beatific vision, and this, by the Greek Fathers at least, was always regarded as being strictly supernatural. [Orat., xl, 23] Thus, according to Gregory, for children dying without baptism, and excluded for want of the "seal" from the "honor" or gratuitous favor of seeing God face to face, an intermediate or neutral state is admissible, which, unlike that of the personally wicked, is free from positive punishment. Augustine himself agrees with the common tradition.
Explicit references to the subject are rare, but for the Greek Fathers generally the statement of St. that those last mentioned [infants dying without baptism ] will neither be admitted by the just judge to the glory of Heaven nor condemned to suffer punishment, since, though unsealed [by baptism ], they are not wicked. And, for the West, Tertullian opposes infant baptism on the ground that infants are innocent, while St. Thus in De libero arbitrio III, written several years before the Pelagian controversy, discussing the fate of unbaptized infants after death, he writes: "It is superfluous to inquire about the merits of one who has not any merits.
Augustine and other Fathers considered to be de fide , and what the Council of Florence seemed to have taught definitively. He himself adopts a view which is substantially that of Abelard mentioned above; but he is obliged to do violence to the text of St.
Luke ; ), and in Matthew under the figure of a marriage feast to which the prudent virgins are admitted, while in the parable of Lazarus and Dives it is called "Abraham's bosom" ( Luke ) and in Christ's words to the penitent thief on Calvary the name paradise is used ( Luke ). Paul teaches ( Ephesians 4:9 ) that before ascending into Heaven Christ "also descended first into the lower parts of the earth," and St.
Peter still more explicitly teaches that "being put to death indeed, in the flesh, but enlivened in the spirit," Christ went and "preached to those souls that were in prison, which had been some time incredulous, when they waited for the patience of God in the days of Noah " ( 1 Peter -20 ).
And this, substantially, is all that Catholic tradition teaches regarding the limbus patrum.
The New Testament contains no definite statement of a positive kind regarding the lot of those who die in original sin without being burdened with grievous personal guilt.