About John Lilburne
2238 L Thu 31 Jan 2002
I have posted 124 answers on www.askme.com as john_the_reader.
The askme.com Catholicism section that I write can be found at:
Home > Society & Culture > Religion >
Christianity > Catholicism
The question asked about tradition, things not being written
down, papal infallibility and limbo. Here is my response:
Things being written down. John's Gospel concludes: "But
there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one
of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could
not contain the books that would be written." In those days
they would have written less than we do today, because of the
technology available. Many written things have survived to today,
but many more have been lost.
About tradition, perhaps the following from the Catechism of
the Catholic Church, will be helpful in getting a better understanding
"78. This living transmission, accomplished in the Holy
Spirit, is called Tradition, since it is distinct from Sacred
Scripture, though closely connected to it. Through Tradition,
'the Church, in her doctrine, life and worship, perpetuates and
transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that
she believes.'[DV 8 # 1.] 'The sayings of the holy Fathers are
a witness to the life-giving presence of this Tradition, showing
how its riches are poured out in the practice and life of the
Church, in her belief and her prayer.'[DV 8 # 3.]"
In the 1995 Harper Collins Encyclopedia of Catholicism there
is an entry on tradition. It includes: "Sometimes Trent
is interpreted as teaching that revelation is contained in two
separate, parallel sources, Scripture and tradition, and this
was, in fact the general interpretation of the Counter-Reformation,
which interpreted revelation as a series of propositions contained
either in Scripture or handed down by oral tradition, so as to
imply two different sources of Tradition. ... Today it is generally
agreed that Scripture itself is a product of tradition ... In
the early Church an oral tradition preceded the written tradition
collected in the Scriptures. In this sense tradition logically
and chronologically precedes Scripture."
I think limbo is an good example of how this sort of tradition
works. Contary to the first two responses the term "limbo"
is not found in the text of the 1994 or 1997 Catechism of the
Catholic Church. It is in the index, which refers you to CCC
1261. "As regards children who have died without Baptism,
the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she
does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of
God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus' tenderness
toward children which caused him to say: 'Let the children come
to me, do not hinder them,'[Mk 10 14 ; cf. 1 Tim 2:4 .] allow
us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who
have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church's
call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through
the gift of holy Baptism."
The Harper Collins Encyclopedia of Catholicism has an entry on
"limbo, ..., place or state of natural happiness happiness
for the nonbaptized dead. ... Augustine (d. 430) contended that
unbaptized children who die are condemned to hell, though they
do not suffer all its pains because they are not guilty of person
sin. Medieval theologians, wishing to mitigate the harshness
of Augustine's position, postulated the existence of limbo. ...
Modern theology, when it does not reject the notion outright,
questions the theological premises upon which limbo is based.
It is difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile the concept
of limbo with the Christian affirmation of God's universal salvific
It explains limbo is "Neither officially defined nor abrogated
by the Church ...".
So as the Catechism teaches there is growth in understanding
94. "Thanks to the assistance of the Holy Spirit, the understanding
of both the realities and the words of the heritage of faith
is able to grow in the life of the Church:
- 'through the contemplation and study of believers who ponder
these things in their hearts';[DV 8 # 2; cf. Lk 2:19, 51 .] it
is in particular 'theological research (which) deepens knowledge
of revealed truth'.[GS 62 # 7; cf. GS 44 # 2; DV 23; 24; UR 4.]
- 'from the intimate sense of spiritual realities which (believers)
experience',[DV 8 # 2.] the sacred Scriptures 'grow with the
one who reads them.'[DV 8 # 2.]
- 'from the preaching of those who have received, along with
their right of succession in the episcopate, the sure charism
of truth'.[St. Gregory the Great, Hom. in Ezek. 1, 7, 8: PL 76,
But in this process the Catholic Church has a structure of authority
which includes the Pope. This enables the growth in understanding
to be recognised and established, with unity being maintained.
Copyright J.R. Lilburne, 31 January 2002.
Links to other sites:
question and other answers on askme.com