A CUF member asks…
What happens to aborted babies at death? Are they considered martyrs? Are they admitted directly into heaven?
We don’t know what happens to aborted babies. In hope we commend them to God’s infinite Love and Mercy.
Theologians are working on the answer. Recently, the International Theological Commission came out with a document, The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptised (April 19, 2007), that provides an extensive overview of the matter, and a conclusion:
“Our conclusion is that the many factors that we have considered above give serious theological and liturgical grounds for hope that unbaptised infants who die will be saved and enjoy the Beatific Vision. We emphasise that these are reasons for prayerful hope, rather than grounds for sure knowledge. There is much that simply has not been revealed to us (cf. Jn 16:12). We live by faith and hope in the God of mercy and love who has been revealed to us in Christ, and the Spirit moves us to pray in constant thankfulness and joy (cf. 1 Thess 5:18).”
Aborted babies are surely victims, but are not conferred a martyr’s status by the Church. Here’s a recent explanantion from the CDF:
(From “Observations of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the writings of Mrs Patricia De Menezes and the Community of the Divine Innocence,” included in the “Statement by the Most Reverend Kevin McDonald, Archbishop of Southwark, on the Community of Divine Innocence.”
The Questionable Demand Made Concerning the Status of Aborted Children
[The demand] that the Church proclaim the martyrdom of all the innocent children deliberately killed before birth and acknowledge these unborn children as companion martyrs of the first Holy Innocents, is doctrinally problematic. A martyr is someone who bears witness to Christ. If the victims of abortion were to qualify for martyrdom it would then seem that all victims of any moral evil should be likewise deemed martyrs. De Menezes’ notion of a ‘Baptism of Love’ is not, as claimed, a development of doctrine. Rather it is an innovation which is difficult to harmonize with the teaching of the Church.