Finally giving in to pressure from grieving parents, the Roman Catholic leadership in Belfast Ireland has allowed a search for unmarked mass graves of unbaptised babies.
In a recently dedicated nature preserve next to the Milltown Cemetery, archeologists used radar to confirm that mass graves contained dozens, perhaps hundreds of babies buried outside the "consecrated" burial grounds.
For Donna Hanvey it was a final triumph. Forty years ago, her brother died in infancy and was buried there.
She was told that, because he died unbaptized, his body could not be buried in the main cemetery and his soul was in "limbo," a semi-heaven somewhere on the borders of hell away from the true presence of God. Finally she, and a group of other parents and relatives, held weekly protests at the fence of the cemetery until the publicity forced the diocese to respond.
The incident highlighted another of the pope's hooks used to maintain spiritual bondage over his subjects. Infant baptism is one of the first unbiblical mechanisms used by the Roman Catholic cult to capture the soul early in life.
Based on the teaching that, at birth, we all inherit "original sin" from Adam, the popes, long ago, saw a way to capitalize on it.
Parents of a newborn had to make haste to present the infant to the local priest for "baptism."
This supposedly removed the taint of original sin, qualifying the child for candidacy for heaven, provided he lived and followed through all the other rituals required throughout life.
In the event the child died before this baptism, its burden of inherited sin could not enter the presence of a Holy God.
Over the centuries, Roman Catholic theologians have debated this issue but one of the most useful concepts that emerged was limbo —useful in terms of promoting the continuity of Roman spiritual bondage.
The word is from the Latin limbus, meaning limit or edge —not hell itself, but near the edge.
Fearing limbo, the new parents would quickly bring the infant to the priest for its initiation into Roman bondage.
For Donna Hanvey, Eileen Strong and other members of the "Relatives of the Milltown Babies," their agonizing over the fate of their babies became a little too close to hell on earth.
Examining the records of the Milltown Cemetery, they found entries that led them to the mass graves outside the "consecrated" grounds where the properly baptized were allowed to be buried.
To compound their frustration, the graves no longer belonged to the cemetery, but the land had been leased to an adjacent nature preserve for 999 years.
After several months of publicity, Catholic officials agreed to the forensic examination of the land by ground-penetrating radar and bones of infants and even adults were located in the land. Embarrassed officials pledged to renegotiate the lease with the nature preserve, reclaim the land and erect an appropriate monument.
Incidents in recent years such as this have pressured Vatican officials to point out that the belief in limbo is not official doctrine. However, theologians are still allowed to present the idea for use by the local leaders. This, of course, is not much comfort to grieving parents whose child died unbaptized.
Their agonizing is left to serve as a continual reminder to new parents not to dally in introducing their newborns into the lifetime chain of false rituals which they mistakenly depend upon for eternal life.
Any other break in the chain of "sacraments" —baptism, confirmation, communion, confession, and extreme unction, can also jeopardize their entry into heaven. Never are they allowed to assume assurance of heaven —that is a serious "sin of presumption."