Catholic Church to bin Limbo: OK, this sort of nonsense is diametrically opposed to science, you might think. But actually the establishment of Limbo in the 13th century seems to me a reasonable bit of scientific thinking. You have a known fact (“The souls of baptised Christians go to Heaven”). You have questions that require explanation arising from that fact (“What happens to the souls of virtuous pagans, or of babies who die before baptism?”). Existing theories are inadequate (“They can’t go to hell or purgatory, because we know that those places for sinners, and these people haven’t actually sinned.”). So you arrive at a new theory, which explains the known facts, and becomes widely accepted. (“They go to this sort of inbetween place called Limbo.”)

Of course the ‘known facts’ are unproven to say the least, and also this sort of thinking just turned the afterlife into a complete fannydangle which was vulnerable to a convincing, simpler theory. And you also wonder whether anyone actually believed in Limbo, or believed in it in a way that made any differences to their lives. And if they did – say if they were a devout mother of a baby that died unbaptized, and found Limbo a comfort – what are they going to think now?