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Do miscarried children go to heaven?

Q. I know that life begins at conception. So I want to believe that when a woman has a miscarriage, no matter how early in the pregnancy, her unborn baby goes to heaven — but I am wondering what the church's view is on this. As a woman who has experienced a miscarriage, I would find great comfort in knowing that I will be reunited someday with my baby in heaven. (State College, Pa.)

A. I suppose that a theological purist might say that there is no definitive church position on the ultimate fate of a miscarried child.

But from many things that the church has, in fact, taught in its official documents, it seems reasonable to assume that the child is in heaven. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, "Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament" (No. 1257).

But the miscarried child has had, of course, no chance to ask for the sacrament. A few paragraphs later, the catechism says, "Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus' tenderness toward children which caused him to say: 'Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,' allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without baptism" (No. 1261).

When an infant is baptized, the infant makes no personal profession of faith; instead it is left to the parents and godparents to voice their desire to have the child christened. Why wouldn't the same logic prevail in the case of a miscarriage? Had the child been carried to term, the parents would certainly have had the child baptized, so why wouldn't a merciful God who reads hearts consider that intention sufficient?

Be comforted and at peace: I think it's quite likely that you will meet your child in heaven.

Questions may be sent to Fr. Kenneth Doyle at askfatherdoyle@gmail.com and 30 Columbia Circle Dr., Albany, New York 12203.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019