Pondering points: Limbo and bad marketing

I was giving thought to a number of items from the recent past:
1) My uncle is in the hospital for a hip operation. I can't help but think that his recovery will be due in large part to the skill of the surgeons, the care of the nursing staff, the potency of antibiotics and to his own body's ability to heal. Though I prayed for and with him, I had a hard time imagining that this alone, or even this substantially, would help.
2) The recent news that the Vatican is doing away with Limbo is welcome news to all but the most rabid of Shiite Catholics. Who needs to imagine that if a parent is a few mintes too late with the baptismal formula, or if a baby dies in utero, that the gates of salavation are shut and the poor child is relegated to a place between heaven and hell, tasting neither the fires of the latter nor the joys of the former.
3) At a baptism in my faith community recently, the presider referred to the limbo situation and said that baptizing children was once thought to be the invitation into salvation, but now is a welcome into a community of faith.

I was pondering all of this, and the thought came to me again that regardless of the value of the theology being used to back up these ideas, that it's bad for the "brand" -- i.e., the Catholic Church brand -- that baptism is no longer seen as the only way into salvatyion. It seems to me that the Shiites Catholics may have a weirdly correct point when they oppose any tinketing with the system.

Especially when the tinkering is in the hands of guys whose analysis skills are rather lacking.

Put it this way. Back in the day (about anytime prior to 1970) there were two kinds of people -- the saved and the unsaved. Baptism saved a person, which is why the Eurpoean conquerors of the New World always brought missionaries along with them. Or perhaps the missionaries insisted on making the trip. In any event, these men went about the New World furiously baptizing everyone they could find. And why not? If a heathen is a person, and a person needs baptism to get to heaven, the missionaries were doing these poor folks a big favor. The same goes for Catholic parents wishing to get their kids baptized. What a great way to make new Catholics -- sell people on the idea that there was only one way in, and we had it.

But now, the dynamic has changed. People are tired of being manipulated, even when it is for their own good, by guys who clearly have a selfish interest in the system. Priests need new Catholics to fill their Churches and give themselves a reasons to be big shots. What better way than to scare folks to death on behalf of their children? But now that the underpinnings of this obviously faulty system have been removed, what is left? What is it that brings folks to Church? The Church, in its backing away from its prior stance, has pretty much said that God will take care of a lot of things. Babies who die before baptism? No problem, God's mercy wil take care of it. Aborted fetuses? Same deal. How about kids who don't get baptized until they are 3 or 4 or 5 -- or 15, 25 or 50? Seems to me that once you open the gates for this kind of argument, the whole absolute need for bapism to be saved goes out the window.

From the point of view of selling the faith, this is a horrible state of affairs. Why bother getting involved in a faith community if God isn't all that choosy about whichi one (or none) you select? And what if the faith community simultaenously removes people's main reason for particuipating without providing another reason to join, such as community, great school, fine liturgy or something else? It seems to me that we have pulled the drain out of the tub of faith and forgotten to open up the spigot to keet the tuib full. Sooner or later, the tub is gonna empty out. And where will the cleaver theologians be then?