The Catholic Church Says Unbaptized Babies Cannot Go to Heaven

One third of all women will suffer a miscarriage in their lives. My own dear wife has suffered three. If you are Catholic, your church requires you to believe that all these children are eternally separated from the joys of heaven. This is the reality, and you must accept it, if you are to remain a faithful member of the Catholic religion.

Editor's note: John Varus is a successful business executive, a faithful husband, and the father of seven children. He has a Master's degree, and he writes articles from a traditional Christian perspective. He was a member of the Roman Catholic Church for over 40 years, and he spent decades diligently studying the official teachings of Catholicism. As a result of his studies, he and his family left Catholicism, and were received into the Orthodox Church.

According to the Roman Catholic Church, the vast majority of people who have ever lived are now in Hades — including many infants. This is not a matter of opinion. Catholicism teaches this directly, clearly, and dogmatically. In other words, it is official Church teaching. If you don't accept this teaching, then you cannot be a faithful Catholic.

Many modern Catholics reject this idea. That's either because they are ignorant of what their Church's teaching is, or else because they are not faithful Catholics. They may attend church services regularly, but they refuse to believe the very things that their own church teaches.

A person cannot be truly Catholic, while holding beliefs that contradict established Catholic dogma. For example, if a person accepts abortion — an evil condemned by the Catholic Church — that that person is a heretic who must repent. If a Catholic person is pro-abortion, then that person is merely pretending to be Catholic.

Indeed, if a Catholic person rejects any of the Catholic Church's official teachings, then that person is only pretending to be Catholic.


Which Teachings Are Official?

Not every Catholic book presents Catholicism accurately. Some do, and some don't. That's why it is often possible to find two books with opposite points of view, both written by Catholic authors. Simply going to church doesn't make a Catholic author infallible.

Even the Catechism of the Catholic Church has been subject to various errors, changes, and revisions. It is intended to be a helpful guidebook for Catholics, but it is not dogmatically binding. A faithful Catholic has no obligation to accept every word of the catechism. It is authoritative whenever it correctly relates official Church teaching, but whenever it strays from official teaching, it can be inaccurate.

The Roman Catholic Church says the teachings of Ecumenical Councils are absolute requirements for all Catholics. Likewise, Catholics are required to believe all ex cathedra declarations from their Popes. According to Roman Catholic teaching, there have been 21 Ecumenical Councils.

According to Roman Catholicism, it is not possible for an Ecumenical Council to be in error. Nor is it possible for a pope's ex cathedra declaration to be in error. Therefore, any such teachings constitute the official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.


What are the Consequences for Rejecting Official Church Teachings?

According to Roman Catholics, it is a mortal sin for a person to reject the teachings of an Ecumenical Council, or to reject the ex cathedra declarations of a Pope. The Roman Catholic system dictates that a single mortal sin will send a person directly to hell, unless the person confesses the sin and repents of it. 

Therefore, the stakes are very high. The Roman Church requires all Catholics to believe its official teachings, on pain of eternal torment.


What are Catholicism's Official Teachings About Salvation?

The most practical question a person can ask is, "Who can be saved?" or "Who is saved and who is not?" Heaven and Hell literally hang in the balance for a person, based on the proper answer to this question.

Catholicism answers this question very clearly:

"There is but one universal Church of the faithful, outside which no one at all is saved."

— Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council (12th Ecumenical Council)

"Indeed, there is but one universal Church of the faithful outside of which no one at all is saved."

— Council of Florence (17th Ecumenical Council)

Is it possible for a person to be saved, if that person is not a formal member of the Roman Catholic Church? Or is there some leeway, in special circumstances? What is Rome's official answer to this question?

For example, consider the following people: 

  • A baptized Protestant who dies
  • A child who dies because of an abortion
  • A child who dies because of a miscarriage
  • An unbaptized child who dies before the age of reason
  • Unbaptized people in non-Christian religions (Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Shinto, etc.)

Is it possible for any of these people to be saved?

Catholicism has a definitive answer for all the cases listed above. And the answer is that all these human souls are clearly, definitively, dogmatically declared to be in Hell.


What About the "Baptism of Desire"?

The unique categories of "baptism of blood" and "baptism of desire" do not apply in these particular cases. According to Roman Catholic teaching, these special types of baptism are only available to people who consciously desire to become members of the Catholic Church.

If you desire to become Roman Catholic, but you are martyred before you are able to receive water baptism, then you are said to receive the "baptism of desire" or "baptism of blood". But Protestants and pagans do not desire membership in the Roman Catholic Church, and unborn children are too young to consciously desire it. Thus, they are not able to receive it.


Unbaptized Infants are Condemned to Hell

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that every human being — including a child still in the womb — inherits original sin from Adam, our first parent. And according to official Catholic teaching, this original sin is sufficient to send a person to hell forever:

"The souls of those who die in mortal sin or in original sin only, however, immediately descend to hell, yet to be punished with different punishments."

— Second Council of Lyons (14th Ecumenical Council)

"[The Roman Catholic Church] teaches...that the souls...of those who die in mortal sin, or with original sin only, descend immediately into hell; however to be punished with different penalties and in different places."

— Pope John XXII

"The souls of those who depart in actual mortal sin or in original sin only, descend immediately into hell but undergo punishments of a different kind."

— Council of Florence (17th Ecumenical Council)

The key phrase here is "in original sin only". It clearly signifies that all those infants who die without baptism — including those aborted and miscarried — go to hell. According to the Roman Catholic system, you are dogmatically required to believe that every unbaptized individual goes to hell.

One third of all women will suffer a miscarriage in their lives. My own dear wife has suffered three. According to Roman Catholic teaching, all three of these precious children are in hell, eternally.

If you are Catholic and your wife has miscarried, the Roman Catholic Church requires you to believe that your children are eternally in hell.

This is the reality, and you must accept it and affirm it, if you are to remain a faithful member of the Catholic religion.

Throughout the ages, many prominent Catholic theologians have endorsed the concept of infants suffering agony in hell. However, towards the end of the 18th century, Rome softened this teaching a bit. In 1794, Pope Pius VI made a definitive statement, excluding unbaptized infants from physical torment. He said these infants are indeed in hell, but they are not physically tortured there.

“The [Jansenist] 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 fire . . . [The Jansenist rejection of this proposition is] false, rash, and injurious to Catholic schools.”

— Pope Pius VI

This statement was made to condemn the Jansenists, a group which claimed infants suffer the physical pains of fire in hell, and which condemned as heretical anyone who believed otherwise. 

Pope Pius VI strongly restates the traditional Catholic teaching — unbaptized infants are indeed in hell — but he condemns the concept that they are physically suffering there. They are indeed "punished with the punishment of the condemned", but their punishment is "exclusive of fire", so that conscious physical torment is not experienced.

But if unbaptized infants are not physically tormented with the fires of hell, then why are they in hell at all? What punishment do they receive there?

Their punishment is simply, and terribly, this: They are not allowed to be in the presence of God and the Saints. They are denied entry into heaven. And according to Thomas Aquinas (and other leading Catholic saints), this is the worst punishment of all. This is far worse than any fire or physical torment.

By setting forth this horrific teaching, Pope Pius VI was reaffirming the teachings of Florence and Lyons, two Catholic Ecumenical Councils (already cited above). 

Now, on to those who are adults and are not formally Catholic. Do they have any hope of salvation?


Non-Catholic Adults are Condemned to Hell

​​​When Roman Catholic popes want to make an ex cathedra pronouncement that is absolutely infallible, required, and binding on all Catholics, they use a standard Catholic formula, using words such as "declare, say, define, pronounce" to ensure there is no wiggle room out of what follows. When a Roman Pope speaks like this, there is no escape for members of the Catholic Church. They are required to accept what he says.

For example:

"We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff."

— Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam

In this Unam Sanctam encyclical, Pope Boniface made an official ex cathedra pronouncement that unless one is subject to the Pope, one "absolutely" cannot be saved.

This man was a sitting Pope at the time when he released this encyclical. Either Pope Boniface VIII was, and is, a heretic, or else Roman Catholicism dogmatically teaches this. 

According to official Roman Catholic teaching, there are several billion living adults — in addition to all the children who die without baptism — who are going to Hell, with no chance whatsoever of salvation.

In agreement with the Unam Sanctam declaration, the following statement reaffirms that all non-Catholics go to hell:

“The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless before death they are joined with Her [the Catholic Church]; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church.

—Pope Eugene IV, Cantate Domino

Pope Eugene identifies this as an official ex cathedra declaration by definitively stating that he "believes, professes and preaches" these things. And this pope is quite clear: No one, no matter his charity or other acts of virtue, may be saved if he is not formally a member of the Roman Catholic Church. Even if a non-Catholic person is a martyr and "pours out his blood for the Name of Christ", he cannot be saved.

This same Catholic teaching is repeated here, in one of their Ecumenical Councils:

"Where the necessity of salvation is concerned, all the faithful of Christ must be subject to the Roman Pontiff, as we are taught by Holy Scripture, the testimony of the holy fathers, and by that of our predecessor of happy memory, Boniface VIII, which begins Unam Sanctam."

— Pope Leo X, Fifth Lateran Council (18th Ecumenical Council)

Also, at the Council of Trent (19th Ecumenical Council), it was explicitly denied that salvation can come to any person who dies outside the Catholic Church. Catholics are forbidden even to hope that such people can receive mercy.

All Catholics are required to believe the official declarations of all Ecumenical Councils, including these. If you're not Catholic, you're going to hell.

Sadly, the Roman Catholic Church has fallen into grave error, and has not kept the teachings of Christ and his apostles.


The Orthodox Church Offers Hope

The traditional teachings of the apostolic Church are good, and the Orthodox Church has faithfully preserved those teachings for 2000 years. Thankfully, strictness of belief does not eliminate the possibility of grace to those outside the formal boundaries of the Church.

When unborn children die, they are not denied entrance into heaven. Orthodox Christians pray for them to receive eternal life.

Even adults who die outside the Orthodox Church are not utterly without hope. Orthodox Christians request the intercession of St. Varus, asking God to have mercy on loved ones who die outside the Church.

I myself was Catholic for 40 years. Most of my family members are still Catholic. Leaving was difficult, but there is grace, light, and peace in the true Church — the Church that was founded by Christ and his apostles — The Orthodox Church. 

When I became Orthodox, I took the Christian name "Varus". That helps me remember to always pray for people outside the Church. I earnestly invite you to investigate the Orthodox Church, and to learn more about its teachings. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions.

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