VATICAN CITY, DEC. 2, 2005 ( The International Theological Commission announced that it will publish a document on children who die without being baptized.

The question of limbo has been one of the arguments addressed by the annual plenary session of the commission, which met in the Vatican until today.

Archbishop William Levada, president of the commission and prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told Vatican Radio that the discussion on the existence of limbo "has been very useful."

"One can hope that in a reasonably brief time the study undertaken by the Theological Commission will have a positive result given the eventual publication of a document in this regard," he explained.

The documents of this commission are not part of the Church's magisterium. They are intended to help the Holy See, especially the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to examine doctrinal questions of great importance.

"In the present moment of cultural relativism and religious pluralism, the number of children who are not baptized increases considerably. In this situation, the ways to attain salvation seem ever more complicated and problematic," said the archbishop.

Salvation for all

The Church is conscious of the fact that salvation "can only be attained in Christ through the spirit. But it cannot fail to reflect, as mother and teacher, on the fate of men created in the image of God, and in a particular way of the weakest and those who still do not have the use of reason and freedom," said the American prelate.

Jesuit Father Luis Ladaria, secretary-general of the commission, explained on Vatican Radio "there is no dogmatic definition" of limbo.

"There is no Catholic doctrine that is binding," he said. "We know that during many centuries it was thought that children went to limbo, where they enjoyed a natural happiness, but they did not have the vision of God.

"Because of recent developments, not only theological but also of the magisterium, this belief is in crisis today."

There are keys to understand the question, said Father Ladaria: "We must begin with the fact that God wants the salvation of all and does not want to exclude any one; we must base ourselves on the fact that Christ died for all men and that the Church is a universal sacrament of salvation, as the Second Vatican Council teaches.

"Therefore, if we begin from these premises, the problem of the need of baptism is framed in a broader context."