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Our readers asked:

Do Catholics believe that a miscarried baby will have a choice to either join God in heaven or not?

Neela Kale Answers:

While Catholics believe that human beings are created with free will, we also believe that we grow into the capacity to make use of that free will. Traditionally, we say that around seven years of age a person reaches the “age of reason,” and can begin to make choices for him- or herself. This is why children generally must reach seven years of age before they can participate in the sacraments of Eucharist and reconciliation. We understand that the capacity to make choices is much more limited in a 7-year-old than in a 17-year-old or a 70-year-old. It is non-existent in a child who has not yet been born. An unborn child’s very act of existing is a perfect act of praising God, because simply existing is exactly what the child is called to do at that point in life. He or she has nowhere to go but God’s loving embrace. Thus in this case the choice belongs not to the miscarried child but to “the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1261).

The Author : Neela Kale
Neela Kale is a writer and catechetical minister based in the Archdiocese of Portland. She served with the Incarnate Word Missionaries in Mexico and earned a Master of Divinity at the Jesuit School of Theology. Some of her best theological reflection happens on two wheels as she rides her bike around the hills of western Oregon.
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