Until the recent announcement, the limbo crowd was thought to include anyone who hadn't been baptized but would otherwise deserve to go to heaven—like infants (including aborted fetuses), virtuous pagans, and pre-Christian Jews.
. . . .
Dante depicted limbo in his Divine Comedy as a pastoral setting of forests with green meadows, flowing streams, and tall castles. Biblical figures like Noah and Moses live in Dante's limbo, as do Ovid, Homer, Aristotle, a parade of characters from Greco-Roman mythology, and even some Muslims, like Saladin, who managed to fight the crusaders and gain their respect at the same time.
Though the Vatican has effectively done an about-face, it won't directly state that limbo never existed. Instead, it says that official church dogma never included the concept and that limbo remains a "possible theological hypothesis." Why the hemming and hawing? The church can't admit to going against hundreds of years of theological interpretation. Such a reversal would be a sign of error. And since the Roman Catholic Church is imbued with the Holy Spirit, it can never be wrong.
While I always hang on the Pope's every word, this new edict has a particular meaning for me, as Dante's depiction of limbo figured heavily into my Blawg Review #35. Perhaps some further reflection might be necessary on my part.
According to Tsai, the end of limbo doesn't necessarily resolve the status of those previously sent there:
If limbo never existed in the first place, you might assume that these souls passed straight through St. Peter's gates. But the carefully worded document from the Vatican's International Theological Commission stops short of certainty in this regard, arguing only that there are "serious theological and liturgical grounds for hope," rather than "sure knowledge."
Well, unlike some, I've never claimed to be infallible on matters of faith; I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt to those previously in limbo -- everybody goes to Heaven!
Thus, congratulations are in order for Virgil, Dante's guide through Inferno and Purgatorio, as well as the others in #35's limbo: Ross Runkel, Sheryl Schelin, Bruce MacEwen, the Appellate Law and Practice blog, Jim Calloway, Connie Crosby, Andrew Raff, Neil Squillante, the Blawg Review Editor, Kevin O'Keefe, and Evan Schaeffer. Welcome to Paradiso, everyone!