This Week’s Ask Alice: Newborn Babies and Original Sin



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She’ll answer your Catholic questions
right here, every Thursday.

Email responses will also be provided, as time permits.

T.S. writes: Why do some Christians claim that a newborn baby has sinned while other Christians claim that a newborn baby is without sin?

Alice responds: Neither Catholics nor any other Christians claim that a newborn baby has sinned through his own fault. Catholics and many Christians believe that babies are born into the world with the original sin of Adam and Eve, our first parents.

The Old Testament states, “Behold I was shapen in sin,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.”
(Psalm 51:5)

In the New Testament, St. Paul explains the situation this way: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world and with sin death, death thus coming to all men, inasmuch as all sinned_before the law there was sin in the world, even though sin is not imputed when there is no law_ I say, from Adam to Moses death reigned, even over those who had not sinned by breaking a precept as did Adam, that type of the man to come.” (Romans 5:12-14)

Scripture and tradition teach us that Baptism is necessary for salvation. Jesus set an example for humanity by asking his cousin, John the Baptist, to baptize him (even though John’s was merely a baptism of repentance … not the actual sacrament of Christian baptism.)

“Later Jesus, coming from Galilee, appeared before John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. John tried to refuse him with the protest, ‘I should be baptized by you, yet you come to me!’ Jesus answered, ‘Give in for now. We must do this if we would fulfill all of God’s demands.’ “ (Matthew 3:13-15)

Also, Jesus told Nicodemus, “I solemnly assure you, no one can enter into God’s kingdom without being begotten of water and Spirit. Flesh begets flesh, Spirit begets spirit.” (John 3:5-6)

The Catholic Church considers age 7 to be “the age of reason.”

A 7-year-old child is (generally) considered morally responsible, able to know right from wrong. This is typically the age that children make their first Confessions, since they can understand the 10 commandments and precepts of the Church.

From birth until age 7, a child is considered morally to be an infant, according to most Christians religions, thus incapable of committing a serious sin.

It can be argued some very intelligent children can be morally responsible before age 7. However, all Christians agree that a newborn baby definitely cannot commit a sin.

In Christ’s love,

Alice

Doug Lawrence adds: From the scriptures, we know for certain that death is the universal penalty for sin.

The reverse is also true:
One who has no sin is certainly NOT liable to die.

While the theological implications of this essential concept are truly awesome, one thing can easily be determined, beyond a shadow of a doubt:

The fact that even a newly conceived infant is subject to death provides absolute proof that even innocents such as these are profoundly affected by the Original Sin of Adam and Eve, our first parents.

The scriptures also state clearly that nothing sinful can enter heaven. Hence, the traditional Catholic practice of baptizing newborn infants, with as little delay as possible.

Since the sacrament of baptism, according to the faith of the universal church, washes away all sins (including Original Sin), infuses supernatural grace into the soul, makes the baptized a living temple of the Holy Spirit, an adopted child of God, a member of the church, a citizen of heaven, and co-heir with Jesus Christ, there is absolutely no reason to wait.

Those who believe otherwise have fallen victim to destructive old heresies which may leave their souls, and the souls of all their offspring, in jeopardy.

Better to be safe … than eternally sorry!

St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas on Original Sin


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