September 15, 2008
vol 19, no. 259

When all else fails, blame God!
    There are a plethora of excuses Peter Dimond desperately drums up in his Treatise and elsewhere to deflect the obvious in his stubborn pridefulness to cling to the dangling thread of denying Baptism of Desire and Baptism of Blood. Does he not realize that once it completely unravels he'll be completely separated from the vine? Completely "outside the Church" via heresy in the same manner the man he defends was excommunicated by a true pope. The only thing allowing Dimond to spew his rubbish today is that there has been an absence of any papal intervention in doctrinal affairs. Regardless, holy Mother Church has wisely prepared for just this and states such in her legitimate Councils, papal decrees and Canon Law: Latae sententiae. In other words by one's persistent deeds or words or actions that contradict Catholic truth, one has separated oneself from the Church. There is no necessity for a pope to decree such, for it still stands in the eyes of God. But to Dimond it's all in the predestined cards and therefore it has to be God's fault that His Church accepts BOB and BOD.

      "The whole issue gets down to one of truth. If you want something simple and easy to understand, either a 'Trinity redux' or 'Salvation redux,' why not just invent one and get on with life? And that is how heresies are born, both then and now. But if you want the truth, then you must accept the fact that the truth will tend to be much more complicated, much less easy to understand, and very easy to misunderstand, and trivial to misrepresent. One therefore simply cannot just lop off BOB and BOD, no matter how much easier that would make it to explain 'No Salvation Outside the Church.' One must therefore integrate these Catholic Doctrines, as integral component parts, into the Catholic Dogma, No Salvation Outside the Church."

      While the Dimonds are notorious for condemning anyone who doesn't agree with them, they are also most liberal in stating that so-and-so or so-and-so is "going to hell." Evidently they know more than any member of the infallible, perennial Magisterium of the Church. Not!

        "Not even sinners of the worst (and most visibly condemned) sort are ever spoken of by the Church as being damned, for who but God (and themselves) know if there might have been some interior repentance on their part at the last moment, as they were dying, and unknown to all here on earth? The allowance for this has always had to be made, and would be absurd and valueless if such final repentance were to be of no effect unless the person also somehow manages to get himself baptized as well. So even in this, the long-established practice of the Church again echoes a belief in BOB and BOD, consistent with their belief, and inconsistent with their denial."

    Part 1 of this series discussed scholastic dishonesty in a general manner to show how quotes from the authoritative sources can be made to sound as if they have stated unreasonable propositions which they themselves obviously wouldn't. Parts 2 through 4 of this series introduced Peter Dimond's treatise, "Outside the Catholic Church There is Absolutely No Salvation," (hereinafter referred to as "the Treatise"), an attempt which gathers a great deal of material about the question of Baptism of Blood (hereinafter referred to as "BOB") and Baptism of Desire (hereinafter referred to as "BOD"), and there, the standard dogmatic and doctrinal texts, Sacred Scripture, and the Church Fathers were explored to see if their declarations and statements really showed any reason to doubt the Catholic doctrines of BOB and BOD, and to expose some significant instances of scholastic dishonesty employed to make it seem as if they did. Parts 5 through 7 began a consideration of the objections that the Church has raised to the denials of BOB and/or BOD, thus far including the teachings of the Council of Trent, its Catechism, the teachings of the Popes (on invincible ignorance and other things), the peculiar mode of "private interpretation" that so characterizes all denials of BOB and BOD, and the clear consensus of the Church Doctors.

    We move now to the remaining "minor objections" as identified as such within the Treatise. Of these, I will start with what is plainly the most unusual and complex, if not necessarily the most persuasive of these remaining objections, namely that of the strange case of Fr. Michel Baius, also spoken of as "Michael Du Bay." Of this Baius, one learns quite nothing within the Treatise, with the exception that the following two statements of his have been condemned:

Errors of Michael Du Bay, Condemned by St. Pius V in "Ex omnibus afflictionibus," Oct. 1, 1567: "31. Perfect and sincere charity, which is from a 'pure heart and good conscience and a faith not feigned' [1 Tim. 1:5], can be in catechumens as well as in penitents without the remissions of sins." - Condemned

Errors of Michael Du Bay, Condemned by St. Pius V in "Ex omnibus afflictionibus," Oct. 1, 1567: "33. A catechumen lives justly and rightly and holily, and observes the commandments of God, and fulfills the law through charity, which is only received in the laver of baptism, before the remission of sins has been obtained." - Condemned

    One has to admit that these two statements of his don't directly address the question of baptism, and since a person who might be erroneous in some areas might nevertheless still be correct in others, there is no information one way or the other as to what Baius thought about Baptism of Desire. These condemnations by the Church do however address directly one of the lesser false claims reiterated in many places within the Treatise, namely regarding the forgiveness or remission of sins to those who are not as yet baptized.

    There are any number of quotes that seem to be to the effect that those not as yet baptized cannot be forgiven sins, or have sins remitted. And yet the same Authority that promulgates or approves such statements has also promulgated Trent in which those preparing for water baptism must, should, or typically do, exhibit clear signs of Faith, Hope, and Love, together with due Contrition for their sins, and furthermore being justified by their decision to be baptized, despite not having as yet been baptized, and here condemned the claim that such who exhibit perfect charity can do so without having their sins remitted. What are we to make of this? Is that Authority double minded? Or is there more to this issue than meets the eye?

    It is in fact as I said before, namely that the Church cannot validly absolve an unbaptized sinner in the confessional. It is in precisely that sense that the unbaptized cannot be forgiven in the Sacrament of Penance, not that God cannot forgive their sins and admit them to Heaven should they die prematurely with such perfect Faith, Hope, Love, and Contrition for their sins. So if nothing else, these two condemnations do help Trent to bring some balance to the claims made in the Treatise that the unbaptized cannot be forgiven or remitted any sins and so must therefore all be hellbound should they die for any reason before reaching the baptismal font.

    But as I just said, there is more to this than meets the eye, even what it takes to resolve the apparent contradiction. And this "more" pertains to the details of who this Baius is and what he taught and what was wrong with it, and then what this has to say about those who deny BOB and BOD. Let us see some of what the Catholic Encyclopedia has to say about Michel Baius (or Michel de Bay). It first gives some account of his life, that he was a contemporary of the Council of Trent, that he started teaching some radical new ideas (commonly called "Baianism"), that he was variously reprimanded for teaching his ideas, that he would back down and accept his lumps, only to begin teaching it again once no one was watching him closely, and so forth. So like Fr. Feeney however, he sought technical flaws in the declarations made against him and used such flaws as a basis to claim that he or his teaching really wasn't being condemned at all, only to be slapped down harder and clearer later on. It then discusses his theological "system" and it is this which we take most interest in:

His system: Baius' system has been conveniently called Baianism, as a more objective name for it would be difficult to find. It is contained in a series of opuscula, or pamphlets: "On Free Will"; "Justice and Justification"; "Sacrifice"; "Meritorious Works"; "Man's Original Integrity and the Merits of the Wicked"; "The Sacraments"; "The Form of Baptism"; "Original Sin"; "Charity"; "Indulgences"; "Prayers for the Dead". Baius himself collected all those pamphlets in "M. Baii opuscula theologica" (Louvain, 1566). The Marurist Gerberon gave a more complete edition: "M. Baii opera cum bullis pontificum et aliis ad ipsius causum spectantibus" (Cologne, 1696). This edition was put on the Index in 1697 on account of its second part, or "Baiana", in which the editor gives useful information about, but shows too much sympathy for, Baius. The gist of Baianism is also found in the 79 propositions censured by Pius V (Denzinger, Enchiridion, 881-959). All cavil apart, the first 60 are easily identified in Baius' printed works, and the remaining 19-"tales quae vulgo circumferrentur", says an old manuscript copy of the Bull "Ex omnibus" - represent the oral teaching of the Baianist wing. In the preface to "Man's Original Integrity" Baius says: "What was in the beginning the integrity natural to man? Without that question one can understand neither the first corruption of nature (by original sin) nor its reparation by the grace of Christ." Those words give us the sequence of Baianism: (1) the state of innocent nature; (2) the state of fallen nature; (3) the state of redeemed nature.- State of innocent nature: From the fact, so strongly asserted by the Fathers, of the actual conjunction of nature and grace in the first man, Baius infers their necessary connection or even practical identity. In his view, primitive innocence was not supernatural, at least in the ordinary acceptation of that word, but due to, and demanded by, the normal condition of humanity (which cannot, without it, remain in the state of salvation). And that primitive state, natural to man, included among its necessary requirements destination to heaven, immunity from ignorance, suffering, and death, and the inherent power of meriting. None of these was, nor could rightly be called, a gratuitous gift of grace.

State of fallen nature: The downfall of man is not, and cannot be, according to Baius, the mere forfeiting of gratuitous or supernatural gifts, but some positive evil reaching deep into our very nature. That evil is original sin. By original sin Baius understands, instead of a simple privation of grace, habitual concupiscence itself, transmitted according to the laws of heredity and developed according to the laws of physical and psychical growth. It is a sin or moral evil by itself, even in irresponsible children, and that outside of all relation to a will, be it original or personal. What, then, becomes of human liberty as a source of moral responsibility? Baius does not think it necessary that, in order to be moral agents, we should be free from internal determinism, but only from external compulsion. From so tainted a source, Redemption apart, only tainted actions can flow. They may sometimes appear virtuous, but it is only an appearance (vitia virtutes imitantia). In truth all human actions, not purified by Redemption, are vices pure and simple and damning vices at that (vitia sunt et damnant).

State of redeemed nature: The gifts of primitive innocence, forfeited by original sin, are restored by Jesus Christ. Then and then only do they become graces, not, indeed, on account of their supernatural character, but because of fallen man's positive unworthiness. Aided by grace, the redeemed can perform virtuous actions and acquire merits for heaven. Does that entail a higher status, an inner renovation or sanctifying grace?-Baius does not consider it necessary. Moral action, whether called justice, or charity, or obedience to the law, is the sole instrument of justification and virtue and merit. The rôle of grace consists exclusively in keeping concupiscence under control, and in thus enabling us to perform moral actions and fulfil the law. True, Baius speaks of the remission of sin as necessary for justification, but this is only a fictio iuris; in fact, a catechumen before baptism, or a penitent before absolution may, by simply keeping the precepts, have more charity than certain so-called just men. If the catechumen and penitent are not styled just, it is only in deference to Holy Scripture, which requires for complete justice both newness of life (i.e. moral action) and pardon of sin (i.e. of the reatus, or liability to punishment). To grant that kind of pardon is the only object and efficacy of the sacraments of the dead, baptism and penance. With regard to the sacraments of the living, the Eucharist-the only one on which Baius expressed his views-has no other sacrificial value than that of being a good moral action drawing us close to God.

    So one should be able to see here that Baianism is a much more thoroughly thought-out system than any developed by those who deny BOB and BOD. And the real errors of Baianism are far greater than merely the forgiveness/remission of sins to the unbaptized (though it is also worth noting that to Baius and his contemporaries the condition of the baptismal candidate approaching baptism and the repentant penitent approaching the confessional were treated as quite parallel), but rather far deeper questions as to the nature of Man, the Fall, and Grace.

    The position of the Church regarding the nature of Man in the original Creation, and of his fall from Grace in the Garden is something of bearing on all this. One the one hand one might opine along with the Pelagians that Mankind is basically good, and as such capable of being good enough through his own personal efforts, of attaining and deserving Heaven. On the opposite extreme one might opine with the Calvinists and Jansenists to the effect that Mankind, especially as now fallen in the Garden, is totally and irredeemably evil and full of nothing good, such that no one can do anything, even to merit a choice on the part of God to provide sufficient Grace to attain (with God's help) Heaven.

    The true position, taken by the Church, is that which the Calvinists sometimes call "Semi-Pelagian" due to the fact that the Church recognizes that even after the fall, something good remains in Mankind, despite the taint of original sin that renders it impossible for him to be perfect enough for Heaven. As we see from above, Baianism leans quite distinctly towards that position of the Calvinists and Jansenists. For why should it be the case, as Michel Baius taught, that "Perfect and sincere charity, which is from a 'pure heart and good conscience and a faith not feigned' [1 Tim. 1:5], can be in catechumens as well as in penitents without the remissions of sins" unless by Mankind's very fallen nature such "perfect and sincere charity…" would still have to be feigned, at least on some level, even if the man himself were conscious of no such falsehood?

    But this then brings us directly back to the question of Baptism of Desire, specifically. How can a man who, in preparing to receive water baptism, has already manifested Faith, Hope, Charity, and Contrition for his sins, be nevertheless damnable in the sight of God for dying before he reaches the Baptismal font? Such a position makes out God to be unjust unless the Church were to teach something more along the lines of Baianism regarding the nature of Mankind and of his Fall, indeed something very like the Calvinistic and Jansenistic teachings already condemned.

    Don't for a moment imagine that serious theologians and Doctors of the Church don't think these things through, exactly the way heretics don't. While it is not known that Michel Baius ever denied the teachings of BOB and/or BOD, if he had bothered to follow his own "theology" clear through to its logical conclusion, he would have been constrained to so conclude and thereby take his place alongside Peter Abélard, Fr. Feeney, and the Dimond brothers. But being one who went off on his own private tangent, he lacked the time and resources to follow through and develop a full and systematized "theology" based on his premises, and therefore appears to have gone along with the Church's universally standard position that the desire for Baptism parallels the desire for Penance in being capable of providing Grace even prior to the actual reception of the Sacrament.

    So what about forgiveness of those not yet baptized? How does all this therefore work? The one who is not water baptized cannot approach the priest in the Sacrament of Penance for forgiveness of his sins, so in that sense the Fathers and Doctors and Popes and Councils have all spoken of such as being unable to obtain forgiveness. But he can be "forgiven" in a provisional sense that enable the Holy Ghost to enter him, providing him with the ability to manifest Faith, Hope, Charity, and Contrition for his sins, such that if he should die before being able to approach the font while still manifesting these holy traits, whether in martyrdom or in any other more random death, this provisional sense of forgiveness becomes full and actual, almost exactly as would have happened with his baptism in water.

    The two differences would be 1) that in the case of a death which is not a martyrdom, the sins of his life, though forgiven, would still require some purgatorial sentence, in proportion to what all those sins were, and 2) that as with Penance the Grace can only be obtained in advance of the Sacrament only with perfect faith, hope, charity, and contrition, such that if their desire to be baptized were imperfect, as with the case where a penitent's contrition is imperfect, the Sacrament itself simply must be reached before death in order for them to be saved or absolved. That is why even the untimely death of a catechumen in good standing is still something of a tragedy, since if only he had made it to the baptismal font he would have at least escaped any Purgatorial sentence from his past sins, and any further risks stemming from any possible imperfections in his desire for membership in the Church through water baptism. So instead of coming in with a clean slate, he comes in with all his sins, though they may be forgiven and may not therefore damn him, they do at least have to be purged. How far sweeter to die a martyr's death and have all those sins and imperfections swept away fully as much as if he were baptized in water, as well as the added glory of sharing in Christ's death.

    In discussing the necessity of Baptism and the ability for there to be a Baptism of Blood and of Desire to replace it when impossible, the Right Reverend Monsignor Joseph Pohle (again of Fr. Anthony Cekada's famous "25 theologians") also wrote the following with regards to Michel Baius and his teaching, which shows here again the Mind of the Church with regards to this, and shows the objection raised by the Church regarding Michel Baius to have at least some real and material bearing on the question of BOB and BOD:

The Right Reverend Monsignor Joseph Pohle, Phd., D. D., The Sacraments - A Dogmatic Treatise, pages 244, "At a later date the Holy See formally condemned a proposition extracted from the writings of Bajus [Michel Baius], which says that 'Perfect and sincere charity can exist both in catechumens and in penitents without the remission of sins.' Hence the Church teaches that perfect charity does remit sin, even in catechumens or in penitents, i. e. before the reception of the Sacrament, yet not without the Sacrament, as we have seen in Thesis I. Nothing remains, therefore, but to say that the remission of sins through perfect charity is due to the fact that such charity implies the desire of the Sacrament. Indeed the only Sacraments here concerned are Baptism and Penance. The Council of Trent explains that primal justification (from original sin) is impossible without the laver of regeneration or the desire thereof, and that forgiveness of personal sin must not be expected from perfect charity without at least the desire of the Sacrament of Penance."

    So, what can the Treatise do about this? All he really does is point out that in declaring a statement to be heretical, that doesn't mean that something similar might not be the doctrinal truth. One has to concede that many of the statements condemned as heretical propositions over the course of the history of the Church may well be wrong in only one or another minor aspect. But all of this ignores the way the Church (as reflected by the above-quoted theologian) understands the rejection of this particular statement of Baius' and more importantly, what it was about Baius that was so objectionable. But as can be seen from above, the condemnation of Baius' error most certainly does show some indirect evidence of the Church's belief in BOB and BOD.

    Let's revisit this question of "untimely death," since those who deny BOB and BOD seem to make such a big claim out of declaring that God knows everything and would therefore enable all who desire to be saved to actually be baptized in literal water. Has anyone ever seriously tried to state just what that would look like, in practice? Think it through a little bit and the whole idea just falls apart.

    Yes, it is true that God knows all things, including when each person will die, and under what circumstances. However man does not, and that includes ecclesiastical man, that is to say, those charged with teaching and baptizing all the nations of the world. Picture a catechumen going through all the preparations. He is instructed, he accepts his instruction, he abides by all the rules, conducts himself as a catechumen in good standing, and finally is recognized by the local priest as being a qualified baptismal candidate. So this priest, seeing that Easter is only four months away, suggests to the man that he get baptized this coming Easter, to which the man agrees. After all, there have been no persecutions afoot in recent times, no conscriptions being made to military service, and the man seems to be in good health, and furthermore doesn't work in anything like a dangerous profession.

    But, God happens to know that in three days hence, this man will be hit by a truck and killed instantly. The man himself doesn't know; the priest doesn't know, and in fact no one among the sons of Man knows. If this claim were true, the priest, in being about to set the time for baptism at this coming Easter, would suddenly look up and say, "No, I think I had better baptize you right away," for no reason he can articulate, so then he baptizes him right there on the spot, so that now the man meets the truck (and his destiny) as a water-baptized person. Or alternatively, the man somehow becomes incapable of being killed, such that the truck passes over him, or through him, or whatever just so what would and should have killed him doesn't as he has become miraculously indestructible. I think we all know that these things don't happen, and would be happening right and left all the time if the claim were true that everyone who gets saved will have to have been baptized in water. That being the case, what God knows about our future has absolutely no bearing on whether we should wait to be baptized at the duly appointed time or jump the gun on that and get baptized right away.

    A good case in point on this can be drawn from a short passage in "Father Feeney and the Truth about Salvation," by Brother Robert Mary, M.I.C.M. Tert., on page 134: He writes, "But no death is ever 'sudden' or 'unexpected' to God. If Valentinian was a worthy catechumen, as Ambrose believed he was, God got the saving waters to him somewhere and sometime before he died." Can you imagine the audacity it would take for someone closer to the Emperor, knowing of St. Ambrose's coming to baptize him, to decide suddenly, on the strength of some questionable inner revelation, to peremptorily baptize Emperor Valentinian just in time? Had the Emperor not died what was he supposed to say to St. Ambrose when he arrived? "Sorry to make you come all this way for nothing, but I already took the liberty of baptizing him; hope you don't mind"? Or maybe he was planning to stay quiet (and have Valentinian also remain quiet!) and allow St. Ambrose to unknowingly perform the sacrilege of rebaptizing him? So it simply doesn't work as any basis to claim that "God got the saving waters to him somewhere and sometime before he died."

    The more reasonable interpretation (and that commonly accepted throughout the Church) of the fact that "God does not command the impossible" is that God only commands Baptism in general, not necessarily water baptism in every case, and particularly not where water baptism is not possible. For what ought a devout catechumen do if captured by a persecutor who knows he is not baptized in water, and as part of the persecution ensures that he will have no access to any water, nor be released from being killed unless he renounce Jesus Christ and curse His holy name? Which command should take precedence here? The command to uphold his Lord, or the command to get baptized in water?

    Another objection mentioned in the Treatise is this: "How can baptism of desire be contrary to dogma when a saint such as St. Alphonsus believed in it after the Council of Trent? That would make him a heretic, which is impossible since he is a canonized saint." This is again quite a serious objection, and one which brings in two major points already discussed here, namely those of Trent and of the Doctors of the Church. And yes, this question is also quite a serious problem for those who deny BOB and BOD. St. Alphonse was a Saint and a Doctor of the Church. And having come after the "new Divine revelation" of Trent and all the famous papal quotes that are ever and anon being abused and misquoted against BOB and BOD, he cannot be "excused" as was, for example, St. Thomas Aquinas.

    For as you recall, after falsely accusing St. Thomas of teaching it as "three baptisms" it "absolved" him of heresy on the basis that the teaching of there being only "one baptism" came in the Council of Vienne, which occurred some years after the Angelic Doctor's death. But plainly, no such "excuse" can be applied to St. Alphonse. So what can be done in the Treatise? Let us focus first and foremost on what is NOT done in the Treatise nor can it be, for everything else said about this objection in the Treatise exists only to distract the reader from noticing this one thing has been omitted. And that is, "Why in the world would the Church canonize as a Saint and recognize as a Doctor someone who was plainly so emphatic in his declaration of Baptism of Blood and Desire, and especially after all the supposed reasons not to believe in them had all been put on record?"

    The obvious answer would be "Because the Church Herself regards BOB and BOD as part of Her infallible teaching." But this answer is unacceptable to the Dimonds and Feeneys of the world. And there is no way to claim that "Well, the Church in canonizing St. Alphonse and in recognizing him as a Doctor of the Church just obviously failed to have examined all of his works carefully." Anyone familiar with the process of sainthood (to say nothing for the process of "doctorhood") would know that any writings of the person made are to be all subjected to the most intense scrutiny. For example, Origen is counted among the Fathers of the Church, but he is one of the very few non-saints among them (Tertullian is the only other one I know of). His works are of value because they document what many ancient Fathers taught, whose work would otherwise be lost, by quoting them, and in the case of a great many ancient Fathers, such quotes within the pages of Origen's work is all that remains of their teachings. But, after his death all of his writings were reviewed and some few heresies were identified in them that barred Origen from being counted as a Saint. Neither is he counted as being among the Doctors. If what St. Alphonse had written about BOB and BOD were heretical, or against the teachings of such popes as St. Leo the Great, Innocent III, Boniface VIII, Eugene IV, or the Councils of Florence or Trent, he could not have been canonized and could not have been made a Doctor.

    So no, this is the one fact about this objection the Treatise cannot really face. Instead, as a misdirection we are "treated" to such other statements about how doctors aren't infallible, how Saints Cyprian and Augustine erred, how Alphonse supposedly "misread" Trent, and then misquoted another part of Trent, how other theologians (even since) have not all yet quite settled on the exact theological note to give BOB and BOD, how it supposedly contradicts Pope Leo and Trent, of how supposedly "incredibly dishonest" Fr. Laisney was to have not mentioned St. Alphonse's "misquote" of Trent, that St. Alphonse supposedly contradicted himself in writing of BOB and BOD (though the "self-contradiction" itself seems to have gotten left out by mistake), how St. Alphonse once wrote that "many are born among the pagans, among the Jews, among the Mohometans and heretics, and all are lost" (plainly speaking of those who are not converting to the Faith), how the martyrdom of infants... - need I go on? The clear intent is the hope that by the time one finishes it the reader won't quite remember what the objection itself actually was.

    Most amusing in all that river of buffalo manure is a quote so obviously misused that I don't even have to go outside what he presented to show how it was plainly misused and misquoted. In trying to claim that you have to know at least some basics of the Faith (presumably what you would have received around the time to be baptized) in order to be saved, it cites, as an "item 3" of a list:

St. Alphonsus: "If you are ignorant of the truths of the faith, you are obliged to learn them. Every Christian is bound to learn the Creed, the Our Father, and the Hail Mary under pain of mortal sin. Many have no idea of the Most Holy Trinity, the Incarnation, mortal sin, Judgment, Paradise, Hell, or Eternity; and this deplorable ignorance damns them."

    The Treatise would have us believe that those who are to be considered as being even "attached" to the Church would have to at least know all these particulars, the idea being that a person unaware of these things would not be able to have an "implicit Baptism of Desire" since that would supposedly require at least this grounding in the basics. But look again at the quote, especially how the second sentence begins: "Every Christian is bound..." so the obligation to know all these basics is binding on those who are baptized, not those who are still in whatever stage of coming to the Church as Grace has so far brought them, whatever degree that may be at any given time.

    Another objection mentioned in the Treatise is this: "In his book The Catholic Church and Salvation, Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton points out that, while only the baptized are actual members of the Church, one can be 'within' or 'inside' the Church without being a member. Thus, the unbaptized can be saved without being members of the Catholic Church because they can still be 'inside.'" Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton wrote and published a book in 1958 titled "The Catholic Church and Salvation," in which he addresses a number of the issues under discussion within this series from the standpoint of one who was Member of the Pontifical Roman Theological Academy, Counselor of the Sacred Congregation of Seminaries and Universities, Professor of Fundamental Dogmatic Theology at the Catholic University of America, and Editor of The American Ecclesiastical Review. Of this fine book and others also of value regarding this issue more will be said in a later installment.

    However, as misused and abused in the Treatise, I have this to say about it here. There seem to be any number of words to use in describing the situation of those to whom BOB and BOD could and would apply, should death overtake them before they can proceed on to being water baptized into the Church. For example we saw in the previous installment how St. Robert Bellarmine introduced the concept of being united to the soul of the Church while as yet outside her body. For my own writings here I have preferred to speak of such as being "attached to" the Church, which could also be counted as being "joined to" the Church, or "united to" the Church (certain expressions used by others), though the latter two are more general as being applicable to both those who are outside but attached, as well as those who are inside as full members.

    The particular wording chosen by Msgr. Fenton takes a somewhat different tack, though the difference is purely semantic. He speaks of such as being "inside the Church" though still obviously not members thereof. Despite the Treatise's rather pat declaration that "the Catholic Church has never taught what Fenton says about non-members being inside the Catholic Church. This is precisely why he can quote nothing from the Traditional Catholic Magisterium to back it up," several whole chapters of Msgr.'s book are devoted to showing precisely where this finds its basis in the actual wording of the Papal declarations regarding this very subject. A short extract from one of these Papal declarations the book discusses at length is actually used in the Treatise at this point:

Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis Christi (#30), June 29, 1943: "…it was on the tree of the Cross, finally, that He entered into possession of His Church, that is, of all the members of His Mystical Body; for they would not have been united to this Mystical Body through the waters of Baptism except by the salutary virtue of the Cross, by which they had already been under the complete sway of Christ."

    I have no doubt that anyone looking at that would have to wonder, "how can that have any bearing on the question of being inside the Church though not a member?" The Treatise explains it thus: "Notice that Pope Pius XII equates the Church with "all the members of His Mystical Body"! Therefore, only the members are in the Church! Since the Church is THE MEMBERS, and there is no salvation outside the Church, there is no salvation outside being a member. Msgr. Fenton is simply wrong." But of course! The Pope was here speaking about those who are "of" the Church, that is to say, parts, members of Her, and not about those who are "inside" the Church, which is to say, not only the members, but also those in the process of becoming members.

    There is a perfect way to illustrate the difference here. I eat some food. I chew and then I swallow, and the food is now in my stomach. That food is "inside" me. But it is not as yet a part "of" me. If I were to vomit it out for whatever reason, other than being out the cost of one meal, I would not be injured, because it is not a part of me. But instead let it continue on through my intestines, my liver, and ultimately to be assimilated as the raw material of my various bodily tissues, in the course of all that it becomes a part of me, such that to then take it away from me would entail at least some actual injury.

    For myself, I prefer the imagery of the nursing suckling "attached to" their mother (and very much "inside" their mother's love and protection) to that of digesting food, though I admit my "motherly" illustration breaks down in the one detail that its chronology is precisely reversed from the true in that opposite to the process of actual motherhood, we proceed from the state of suckling to being inside her instead of, as in natural motherhood, the other direction.

    But why choose one wording over another? Msgr. Fenton's book explores this in some detail. It goes to some length to explain that St. Robert Bellarmine's way of describing this situation was that of their being "united to the soul of the Church." Taken literally and carefully in the exact sense clearly meant by St. Robert himself, Msgr. Fenton agrees fully and most heartily. However, in the centuries since, many other writers successively distorted and twisted St. Robert's teaching until it morphed into practically the very reverse of what he originally had set out to prove. Msgr. Fenton describes it thus:

Thus, by the end of the eighteenth century the misue of St. Robert's term "body" and "soul" of the Church had reached its final result. The De ecclesia militante had been written in the first place to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that the one and only supernatural kingdom of God of the New Testament is an organized society, the religious community over which the Roman Pontiff presides as the Vicar of Christ on earth. St. Robert had shown conclusively that there is and there can be no such thing as an "invisible Church" in the dispensation of the New Testament. He had concentrated on the proof that there is only one ecclesia, and that consequently there is no possibility of postulating an "invisible Church" in any way distinct from the one visible Mystical Body of Jesus Christ in this world.

    Now, hardly more than a century and a half after St. Robert's death, the very contradictories to his basic teaching were being set forth by Catholic writers using his own terminology. The name "soul of the Church," which St. Robert had applied to what his contemporaries called the inward or invisible bond of ecclesiastical unity, was gradually deflected from the purpose it had served in the De ecclesia militante until it finally became a vehicle for the expression of the very teaching St. Robert had set out to disprove. For D'Argentré, the "soul of the Church" in the Bellarminian sense was no longer one of the two bonds of union within the Church but became a factor "acting as a principle of spiritual life for the faithful." For Tournely and Kilber this same "soul of the Church" was made to function as a principle in the definition of an "invisible Church" made up of men and women in the state of grace. For Legrand and the men who followed him, this same "soul of the Church" became itself an "invisible Church." And the reality to which St. Robert had applied his classical definition became, not the one true ecclesia of the New Testament, as it was in the De ecclesia militante and as it is in Catholic doctrine, but only "the body of the Church."

    So, the problem Msgr. Fenton has with St. Robert's choice of words is not in what St. Robert actually and originally taught (and he even credits some other writers, such as John Wiggers of Louvain, with having correctly expounded upon it), but with the progressively worse and worse misuses and abuses to which would be put on it until the very "invisible Church" doctrine that St. Robert had set out to disprove thereby had, indirectly, come to be "proved" thereby.

    In a closely associated work by Peter Dimond titled "Can one be "inside" the Catholic Church without being a "member"? - A Review of the book, The Catholic Church and Salvation, by Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton," misrepresents these circumstances most criminally, thus: "As we just saw, Fenton rejects the teaching of St. Robert Bellarmine, that one can be united to the Soul of the Church without belonging to its Body. Since Doctors of the Church, like anyone else, can make mistakes, even relating to dogmatic issues, Fenton should have simply stated that St. Robert was wrong. However, rather than honestly and plainly stating that St. Robert Bellarmine was wrong, Fenton dishonestly confuses the issue by trying to justify his teaching on the one hand, while rejecting it on the other."

    But of course, on actually reading the book, one sees no such thing. Msgr. Fenton most heartily endorses the teaching of St. Robert, and faults him at most for choosing a wording that he thinks might have been more open to misinterpretation (which misinterpretations he just as heartily condemns) than some other way of putting it all (for example, his own?) might have been. But is there really any advantage of using one set of terms for it over another, with regards the potential of abuses by those who are determined to abuse it? It seems to me that no matter how it is expressed, there could be those who would take that particular expression and abuse it to encompass a supposed "salvation" of practically everyone.

    A bigger and more interesting question looms here as to whether a doctrine should be taught or believed if it always seems so very open to abuses. "Why not, as Fr. Feeney himself did, simply lop off the whole doctrines of BOB and BOD so that there will be nothing to abuse and then everyone will just get it straight right from the get-go?"

    If the truth or falsity of a doctrine were to be gauged by our ability to understand it, or to prevent it from being abused and misrepresented, then we would have to throw out the whole doctrine of the Trinity. How far easier it would have been to simply have (as does the Watchtower Society ("Jehovah's Witnesses") God the Father alone be God, Jesus be some lesser creation (though first and greatest of all the creations), a "chief agent," an "incarnation" of the Archangel Michael, and the Holy Ghost a mere impersonal "active force" (sounds much akin to the "force" of Star Wars, perhaps minus its "dark side")! If only the Church could have followed the Arians back then there would never have needed to be all of the many controversies regarding that Dogma that followed since, no polytheists on the one hand actually teaching "three Gods," no Monarchists/Sabellianists on the other teaching "one God with three disguises," no Monophysite or Monothelite controversies, just a simple idea that everyone can easily grasp and run with.

    The whole issue gets down to one of truth. If you want something simple and easy to understand, either a "Trinity redux" or "Salvation redux," why not just invent one and get on with life? And that is how heresies are born, both then and now. But if you want the truth, then you must accept the fact that the truth will tend to be much more complicated, much less easy to understand, and very easy to misunderstand, and trivial to misrepresent. One therefore simply cannot just lop off BOB and BOD, no matter how much easier that would make it to explain "No Salvation Outside the Church." One must therefore integrate these Catholic Doctrines, as integral component parts, into the Catholic Dogma, No Salvation Outside the Church.

    Even the "need" felt by Msgr. Fenton to put the faithful catechumens (and perhaps what excommunicated as have repented and wish to return, or else who were falsely and unjustly excommunicated) literally "inside" the Church, though admittedly as non-members, results from a certain (very indirect) influence from Fr. Feeney who put the whole question of having to be "inside" the Church in this life in order to be saved, when in fact none of the great dogmatic quotes state or even necessarily imply any such thing. As one cannot actually be truly and fully and irrevocably "saved" until one has entered either Purgatory or Heaven (both of which are parts of the Church, hence to be in either is to be quite literally "inside" the Church, and furthermore as a full member) it is nonsense to speak of anyone (short of some special and personal revelation) in the Church Militant as being fully "saved."

    Or let's put it this way: You have to be inside the Church (and as a member) either Suffering or Triumphant in order to be "saved." While still on earth, the most you can aspire to be is "in line for salvation," otherwise known as "justified." This is done (our part, wherever possible) by joining the Church as a member through water baptism, or at the very least being "attached to" the Church with bonds of perfect faith, hope, love, contrition for sins, which by their very nature imply a progression and seeking towards that same baptismal membership, and which can be legitimately delayed only by circumstances beyond our control, and legitimately excused therefrom only by a precipitous death before such progression can reach its appointed destination.

    Another objection mentioned in the Treatise is this: "Acts 10:47 says that Cornelius and his companions received the Holy Ghost. This means that they were justified without Baptism." The only response the Treatise can make here is to claim that being filled with the Holy Ghost, such that one may speak in tongues or prophesy, etc. is a separate thing from being justified.

    One can indeed grant that these are indeed two separate things. However, the fact remains that the ability to be filled with the Holy Ghost requires a condition of sanctifying Grace, which equals being justified. That is to say, being in a state of sanctifying Grace (being justified) is a prerequisite to being filled with the Holy Ghost, such that one could speak in tongues or prophecy in God's name (I am ignoring here the possibility here of demonic tongues or prophecies since clearly the Scriptures do not in any the least ways accuse Cornelius of such demonic influence).

    Before St. Peter and company came to Cornelius and his household, they properly had what is called an "implicit baptism of desire." They wanted to serve God, to place themselves in obedience to Him, by whatever means God should appoint. But they didn't know what precisely that means was. When Peter came and explained the Gospel to him and his household, and explained water baptism, that implicit desire became explicit, and followed shortly thereafter with the consummation of that desire by being actually water baptized. This Scriptural event demonstrates not only an instance of a "Baptism of Desire," but also a "Confirmation of Desire," in that the graces of the Sacrament of Confirmation (being filled with the Holy Ghost) were already theirs even before their water baptism. Though the Scripture doesn't mention this detail one way or the other, it is safe to assume that Peter presumably also provided them with the Sacrament of Confirmation immediately after the Sacrament of Baptism, with a possible exception of any small children for whom Confirmation might have been deferred until some later (undocumented) time.

    Another objection mentioned in the Treatise is this: "The 1917 Code of Canon Law gives Christian Burial to unbaptized catechumens and teaches baptism of desire." For starters, let us set the relevant canons of the 1917 Code of Canon Law before us:

Canon 737, 1917 Code: "§ 1. Baptism, the gateway and foundation of the Sacraments, actually or at least in desire is necessary for all for salvation and is not validly conferred except by washing with true and natural water along with the prescribed formula of words. § 2. When it is administered in accord with all of the rites and ceremonies that are prescribed in the ritual books, it is called solemn; otherwise, [it is called] non-solemn or private."

Canon 1239, 1917 Code: "§ 1. Those who die without baptism are not to be accorded ecclesiastical burial. § 2. Catechumens who through no fault of their own die without baptism are to be reckoned as baptized. § 3. All baptized are to be given ecclesiastical burial unless they are expressly deprived of same by law."

    Note: Somewhat equivalent provisions also exist within the 1983 Code of Canon Law at Canons 849 and 1176, 1180, and 1183. This new Code is, if anything, only all the more liberal in permitting all sorts of persons to be given burial on sacred ground.

    Obviously there can be no doubt that in 1917, when the Code of Canon Law mostly prepared under the guidance and initiative of Pope Saint Pius X was promulgated, the Church clearly believed in baptism of desire, and once again this belief is reflected in yet this additional way.

    While it is true that the Code of Canon Law, being a juridical document rather than a doctrinal one, is not of itself "infallible," that doesn't mean that its references to doctrines made, for example in the course of explaining or justifying some of its juridical norms, especially those has have some specific basis in Divine Revelation, would not be references to doctrines themselves that are infallible, even if only taught within the domain of the Ordinary Magisterium. For that matter, not a single doctrinal error has ever been identified within any of these doctrinal references that are contained within the 1917 Code of Canon Law.

    The burial of anyone in consecrated ground has traditionally always been about only permitting those whom the Church can reasonably believe to have attained Heaven to be so buried, as an example to the others. So for example, under the 1917 Code (Canon 1240), suicides were not permitted to be buried in consecrated ground, and neither were excommunicates or notorious public sinners. The Church could not have permitted the unbaptized Catechumens to be so buried unless there were reason to allow for a possibility of their being saved, a practice that again reflects a belief in Baptism of Desire.

    The only response the Treatise can make (besides pointing out that Canon Law is not itself an infallible source) is to claim that the ancient Church did not bury unbaptized catechumens "with great ceremony." It does this by quoting the following from the Catholic Encyclopedia (Note: The underlined passage was not included in the Treatise):

A certain statement in the funeral oration of St. Ambrose over the Emperor Valentinian II has been brought forward as a proof that the Church offered sacrifices and prayers for catechumens who died before baptism. There is not a vestige of such a custom to be found anywhere. St. Ambrose may have done so for the soul of the catechumen Valentinian, but this would be a solitary instance, and it was done apparently because he believed that the emperor had had the baptism of desire. The practice of the Church is more correctly shown in the canon (xvii) of the Second Council of Braga: "Neither the commemoration of Sacrifice [oblationis] nor the service of chanting [psallendi] is to be employed for catechumens who have died without the redemption of baptism."

    First of all one sees that there could have been an exception made for Emperor Valentinian by St. Ambrose, and given this exception there may well have been some few others, now undocumented. Obviously any such cases would have to have been on a case-by-case basis, instances (such as Valentinian's) where heroic charity or virtue was shown, and no room to doubt that the person would have been baptized soon had they lived.

    However, in the Catholic Encyclopedia, when one looks up the Council of Braga, a rather interesting thing is found. It describes three councils in some detail, of which the first two seem rather interesting:

Many councils were held in Braga, some of them important. The authenticity of the so-called council of 411 is very doubtful. It was probably invented by Father Bernardo Brito. In the council of 563 eight bishops took part, and twenty-two decrees were promulgated, among others the following: [A sampling of about ten or so of the twenty-two decrees is given, including] that suicides and catechumens should not be buried with great ceremony, nor should anyone be buried inside the church.

   The second council held in 572, presided over by the aforesaid St. Martin, was held to increase the number of bishops in Galicia. Twelve bishops assisted at this council, and ten decrees were promulgated: [The ten decrees are each given, and none of them pertain to any burial customs.] This council was attended by the bishops of the suffragan sees of Braga, and by those of the Diocese of Lugo, and Pope Innocent III removed all doubt as to its authenticity.

    So, one does not even find this in the Second Council of Braga (according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, anyway), but only in the First, of which its authenticity is questioned. Be that as it may, the burial of unbaptized catechumens is legitimately more of a disciplinary position since being such, while salvation is most certainly possible, is no guarantee on any particular individual case. And one must recall again the common practice in the early centuries that many would be "catechumens" for a prolonged period of time just so as to be "blessed" while not having to be put on the spot in case of persecution, or otherwise delaying for no good cause. For if their desire for the Sacrament were real, why did they not pursue it as the opportunity presented itself? Obviously it was either neglect, despising of the Sacrament, or pursuit of other interests of more value to them than salvation.

    Therefore, that being the case, the situation of the unbaptized catechumen who is legitimately desirous of baptism, as distinct from these "catechumens" who merely choose to linger on the fringe, was a rare and exceptional case, and similarly any exceptions made for their burial in sacred ground and with ceremony would have been rare (e. g. as for Emperor Valentinian).

    However, there is also the Church custom that infants would be baptized as soon as possible, but not adults, who could normally afford to wait until they have been instructed, found worthy, and then once these things are competed, still wait further for Easter or some such special occasion for their baptism to actually take place. Only in cases of immediate danger of death (from any cause) were quick emergency baptisms to be permitted for adults, and even this would not have covered every possible situation. This practice also goes clear back to the beginning, and was nothing new when mentioned by St. Thomas or again in the Catechism of the Council of Trent. Again, such behavior, while itself "proving" nothing, nevertheless is seriously inconsistent with a denial of BOB and BOD, but fully consistent with a belief in BOB and BOD.

    Another objection mentioned in the Treatise is this: "You can't judge if all non-Catholics go to Hell. You are not God. You must leave such judgments to Him." For this, the Treatise merely points to one of the many condemnations the Church has issued to "those who…" as have frequently occurred throughout the whole of the Christian revelation. What it ignores is the serious question of who exactly, personally, can be yea verily spoken of as damned. It is interesting to note that while the Church has a process for canonizing a Saint for Heaven, there is no equivalent process for "canonizing" villainous person for Hell. That doesn't mean that no one goes to Hell, for it is quite clear that many do, but of any particular individual one cannot yea verily affirm "This individual is burning in Hell," no matter how obviously likely it may well be for some cases (e. g. Judas Iscariot, of whom Jesus said, "better for that man if he had never been born").

    But if denials of BOB and BOD could ever be confirmed as yea verily doctrines of the Church, then that would carry with it the creation of such a "canonization to Hell" of specified individuals, exactly what the Church has avoided all these centuries. If that could be the case, one need only ascertain that So-and-so was never baptized in water, and that would itself be proof positive that So-and-so was yea verily damned.

    Not even sinners of the worst (and most visibly condemned) sort are ever spoken of by the Church as being damned, for who but God (and themselves) know if there might have been some interior repentance on their part at the last moment, as they were dying, and unknown to all here on earth? The allowance for this has always had to be made, and would be absurd and valueless if such final repentance were to be of no effect unless the person also somehow manages to get himself baptized as well. So even in this, the long-established practice of the Church again echoes a belief in BOB and BOD, consistent with their belief, and inconsistent with their denial.

    Another objection mentioned in the Treatise is this: "Objectively speaking, there is absolutely no salvation outside the Catholic Church. But subjectively speaking, we just don't know." This particular "objection" only functions by being misrepresented even in the way it is initially asked within the Treatise. Only one work is cited as using this objection, and even from the short quote as given in the work, this is not the contention of that work at all:

The Devil's Final Battle, compiled and edited by Fr. Paul Kramer, p. 69: "This teaching must not be understood to preclude the possibility of salvation for those who do not become formal members of the Church if, through no fault of their own, they do not know of their objective obligation to do so… only God knows whom He will save (in some extraordinary manner) from among the great mass of humanity which has not exteriorly professed the Catholic religion."

    One can see here that Fr. Paul Kramer has simply found another wording by which he refers to an implicit Baptism of Desire, particularly with the case that some degree of invincible ignorance prevents the person from arriving more promptly to the Church. The need to seek join the Church through water baptism is a real need, as in it has an objective reality. Subjectively, the person unhappily trapped in a condition of inculpable invincible ignorance may be unaware of the need to be baptized, or of some other necessary truth of the Church, or of all of them, but still (very remote possibility here, but with all the billions who have lived who can say that there have not been at least some small handful of such souls) somehow find salvation. Of course, this could only be from them being sufficiently united to the soul of the Church in an intent to obey the Natural Law written on their heart, have contrition for whatever sins they have committed against that Law, a real wish to place themselves at the service of their Creator, and all with supernatural charity, such that like Cornelius should the preacher arrive they would receive him at once as did Cornelius, and God can see that in their heart.

    But to summarize such a position as "Objectively it is true, but subjectively we don't know" is patently dishonest since we as Catholics do know, and it could only be those to whom we have no access (and correspondingly have no access to us) who might possibly be excused for subjectively not knowing what we do know.

    Actually, one other reference to subjective and objective salvation is found in a refutation of the Feeney error by Fr. Ray Ryland of Catholic answers who wrote the following, which shows how these terms might be employed, but which of itself has no direct bearing on the "question of BOB and BOD:”

There are two distinct dimensions of Jesus Christ’s redemption. Objective redemption is what Jesus Christ has accomplished once for all in his life, death, resurrection, and ascension: the redemption of the whole universe. Yet the benefits of that redemption have to be applied unceasingly to Christ’s members throughout their lives. This is subjective redemption. If the benefits of Christ’s redemption are not applied to individuals, they have no share in his objective redemption. Redemption in an individual is an ongoing process. "Work out your own salvation in fear and trembling; for God is at work in you" (Phil. 2:12–13).

    So in this application of the terms objective and subjective, the question wouldn't even be what the distinction would be between these, but rather the mechanisms by which salvation (subjective redemption) is actually applied to souls

    Another two objections mentioned in the Treatise are these: "Our Lady herself revealed at Bayside and Medjugorje that non-Catholics can be saved, so you are wrong," and "Our Lady said that whoever dies wearing the Brown Scapular will not go to Hell. This means that you are wrong: non-Catholics and the unbaptized can be saved who die wearing the Scapular." At first blush one would have to wonder why any space whatsoever would be wasted on such "objections" as these. Both of these are so such non-serious objections that there can only be one reason for their inclusion at all.

    They are meant to serve as misdirections. This is nothing more than some more of "guilt by association," by which some of the real and substantial value of the other objections may get somewhat diluted by the obvious frivolity of these "objections," with the hope that the reader might associate the emptiness of these with the more substantial objections, and thus not pay too close attention to any of them. They are also placed at the very end so that if a reader is going through the Treatise sequentially, these will be last and thereby the most remembered.

    I recall a scene from a movie in which a legal assistant or secretary says to her lawyer/employer regarding the two opposing witnesses in an upcoming case, "One's a hype. But the other is solid gold," to which her boss (the lawyer) responds, "We'll dirty the hype and rub some off on the gold." Most of the objections listed as such have been solid gold, though some few might count more as solid silver. These last two however are pure hype.

    Yes, Bayside and Medjugorje are bunk, and the promise of the Brown Scapular only applies to baptized Catholics. Nothing further need be said of these.

    Another objection mentioned in the Treatise is this: "What about the Good Thief and the Holy Innocents?" Classically, the Good Thief was taken to be a case of Baptism of Blood in view of his sharing in Christ's sufferings, on a cross next to His. However, since his death was not on account of any Faith he had in Christ, his death technically does not count as a martyrdom (though in a sense it became one in the good death that he made), since he was being justly punished for some actual crime. This has also made it one possible example of a Baptism of Desire since he applied quite directly, and with truly supernatural charity and faith and contrition for his sins, to our Lord for salvation, and as the Scripture records that he was granted it on the basis of this final repentance.

    Is it proof of either BOB or BOD? Evidently many of the early Fathers thought it was, including Sts. Cyprian and Augustine. If perhaps they erred in this (and one does have to admit that St. Augustine changed his mind about the exact significance of this account with respect to those doctrines), there are enough other Scriptural reasons to believe in these things that the removal of this one example changes nothing.

    As to the case of the Holy Innocents, they seem to be the one for sure instance of martyrdom buying salvation for infants. In this case it is pointed out that the Law of Baptism was completely in the future when the Holy Innocents were slaughtered. That is a valid point. The general consensus seems to be that the incoming new Law of Baptism coexisted with the outgoing old Mosaic Law of Circumcision from the time of Jesus' Own baptism by St. John the Baptist, or at the latest, at His announcement of the need for Baptism to Nicodemus, and clear until Pentecost when the Church was born, with perhaps some possibility that the Mosaic Law might have lingered on for a season and continued to be honored in the case of certain remote and isolated Jews, who unaware of the events of our Lord's life, simply continued faithfully as they always had while awaiting the first preaching of the Gospel to them. Perhaps those of that community who only knew of John's baptism, but not of Christ's (Acts 19:2-7), may well have belonged to such a category until the Gospel was preached to them and they joined the Church.

    All of this being the case, the Holy Innocents were still bound to the Law of Moses, and as such obliged to be circumcised. If, however, any such happened to be less than eight days old (the customary age for a baby boy to be circumcised) and yet still get slaughtered, such a child, though not given the equivalent of water Baptism as existed under the previous Law, could still have been saved as a martyr, having died in our Lord's place, since it was He whom they sought to kill. And that might account for at least part of what occasional mentions one sees of Baptism of Blood being (only rarely) applied to infants.

    One must admit that most of the objections discussed in this section are of a lesser nature than those stemming from the Council of Trent, from the Popes, regarding Private Judgment, and from all the Church Doctors. Each of these relatively smaller objections is of something of a more slight erosionary nature, but each and all are still echoes of that truth that the Church has always believed in BOB and BOD. But stemming even from all of these, a more significant point emerges. Where is there any corresponding "echo" to be heard of any contrary doctrine? But there is more to the objection of silence.

    Which brings us to the last objection mentioned as such within the two sections of the Treatise that are devoted to attempting to address the objections: "If it is true that there is no such thing as baptism of desire or baptism of blood, then why didn't any pope come out and condemn these theories as they were appearing in so many catechisms in the late 1800's and following?" The objection, as framed, fails to address a far larger and more serious problem. If it were merely a matter of some catechisms published since some time in the 1800's onwards, one could have legitimately said of these catechisms, "where are they all getting this Baptism of Blood and Desire stuff from?" But as has been amply shown, BOB and BOD have been interwoven through the teachings of Trent, of the Popes, of the Doctors of the Church, and as can also be seen, in the Ancient Fathers and in the many prominent Roman Theologians as well. That they should also appear in some number of catechisms as well is practically small potatoes next to all that.

    Yes indeed, Where are the papal denunciations of all these Doctors, Fathers, Theologians, Councils, and so forth, as well as local catechisms, which have all affirmed BOB and BOD in no uncertain terms? The explanation given in the Treatise basically amounts to saying that popes are very busy men and don't have the time to check what their bishops are teaching and approving or what their Church has been teaching. Then what in God's name (literally) HAVE they been doing all this time? See for yourself what the Treatise says:

Popes are very busy people - with tons of responsibilities - so they can be unaware of what is being taught catechetically at the diocesan level. They rely on their bishops to preserve the faith in their respective dioceses, which unfortunately did not happen in the last 100 years.

    I guess one is supposed to picture a pope sitting up high on some throne (the Chair of Peter?) so far above the level of us ordinary persons as to see us as just so many dots or ants moving about on the ground, and our problems meaning as much to him as an ant's problems mean to us. He is seen thereby as one who is perfectly clueless as to what has been going on down here at the ordinary level of us ordinary day-to-day Catholics, and that such a thing as a child's catechism would be totally outside his experience. As if he had been born to that position and had never been a child himself subjected to learning from these same sorts of catechisms himself when he was a child! There is no way that the popes (Pius X onward) could possibly have been ignorant of the things being taught from these children's catechisms (such as Baltimore and whatever equivalents as existed in other nations) since he himself was once a child and instructed from these selfsame catechisms himself. The popes all therefore do know what is in all these catechisms, and if in their later and higher studies they were to be finding out that BOB and BOD were but at most mere idle speculations, or even flat-out erroneous or even heresies, they would have to have said something.

    But as if that isn't enough, where are the doctoral dissertations on how and why the Church has been wrong to take the "semi-Pelagian" position that even fallen man has some good in him, or else to explain how an unbaptized man with perfect faith, hope, charity, and contrition for his sins coupled with a desire to be baptized into the Church and place himself at the service of God could nevertheless be unworthy of salvation and therefore damned? Look at all the explanations given over time as to how God could torture souls in hell forever for sins that might be (or at least seem to men) rather trivial, and in any case could only have occurred over the brief span of an earthly life. Surely the ability to so damn an innocent soul would also have had to be expounded upon and explained somehow, if that were what the Church believed.

    Where are the Councils, the Doctors, the Fathers, the Theologians, or even any Saints and Mystics who deny BOB and BOD and go on to expound upon why these Catholic doctrines long accepted are not to be followed after all? The silence issue is after all much larger than meets the eye, and once again one sees the author of the Treatise having recourse to what I already explained at the end of my installment regarding the Council of Trent, namely why it is that so many evidences run against them, to which they answer:

But I believe that the main reason why the false doctrine of baptism of desire was never explicitly condemned by name is the fact that God allows heresies to arise to see who will believe the truth and who won't; and the denial of the necessity of Baptism and the necessity of the Catholic Church is the key heresy to the Great Apostasy.

    In other words, it's all God's fault. God screwed up and it's up to Peter Dimond to put things right, the last refuge of one whose position is once again disproved by the evidence.

Griff L. Ruby

      Next Week: Part 9

        For the first installment of this series, see Part 1

        For the second installment of this series, see Part 2

        For the third installment of this series, see Part 3

        For the fourth installment of this series, see Part 4

        For the fifth installment of this series, see Part 5

        For the sixth installment of this series, see Part 6

        For the sixth installment of this series, see Part 7

      Griff's book is available from Books for $26.95 or can be read on-line at We at The Daily Catholic strongly urge you to share it with all you can for that could be the gentle shove that moves your friends back to where the True Faith resides forever, rooted in the Truths and Traditions of Holy Mother Church as Christ intended and promised.

    Griff Ruby's STRAIGHT STUFF
    September 15, 2008
    Volume 19, no. 259