February 3, 2009
vol 20, no. 34
Theologians Against Feeneyism and the Treatise
In this final three-part installment in refuting Peter Dimond's Treatise defending Feeneyism, credible Church theologians are called to the bench to testify to the overwhelming support for Baptism of Blood and Baptism of Desire. The virtually unanimous consensus of at least twenty-five respected Church theologians sampled over the ages has been consistently in agreement for BOB and BOD and scarcely an opinion breathed, let alone even one identified convincing argument, or any consensus, against BOB and/or BOD.
"This is the most lengthy and detailed discussion of this topic I can find in English by any theologian of any weight whatsoever. And yet, practically every sentence speaks volumes. His very first sentence sums up the whole of the supposed 'self-contradiction' perfectly, 'Baptism is necessary for salvation, but, under certain conditions, the place of Baptism by water may be supplied by Baptism of desire or by Baptism of blood.' One should be able to see here many of the principal sources (even, often, in their original languages) upon which the Church has long known Herself to accept and teach the Catholic doctrines of BOB and BOD, and which has obviously been a significant help for me to find several of the more significant quotes that I have."
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 8 began a consideration of the objections raised and acknowledged as such within the scope of the Treatise, showing that these objections do comprise significant reasons to believe in BOB and BOD despite the wretched attempts in the Treatise to minimize their impact. Parts 9 through 11 began another phase of the consideration of the objections, namely those raised and acknowledged in the Treatise, but in other places outside the two "objections" Sections.
On December 21, 1933, His Holiness Pope Pius IX wrote to Archbishop Scherr of Munich these significant words, in which he discussed the obligation of Catholics to believe not only those things which are most solemnly defined and infallibly taught "ex cathedra" by the Extraordinary and Universal Magisterium, but also all that is taught by the Church which is of lower ranks of teaching authority:
We desire to reassure ourselves that they did not mean to limit the obligation, which strictly binds Catholic teachers and writers, to those things only which are proposed by the infallible judgment of the Church as dogmas of faith to be believed by everybody. In a like manner, We are convinced that it was not their intention to state that the perfect adherence to revealed truths (which they regard as absolutely necessary for true progress in science and for refuting errors) can be maintained, if the submission of faith is given only to those dogmas expressly defined by the Church. The reason for this is the following: even supposing that we are treating of that subjection which is to be made by an explicit act of divine faith, this must not be limited to those things which have been defined in the express decrees of the ecumenical councils or of the Roman Pontiffs of this See; but it must also be extended to those things which, through the ordinary teaching of the whole Church throughout the world, are proposed as divinely revealed and, as a result, by universal and constant consent of Catholic theologians are held to be matters of faith.
More publicly than that however, the Pope also summarized this point in one of the condemned propositions listed in his Syllabus of Errors, Condemned Proposition #22:
The obligation strictly incumbent on Catholic teachers and writers is limited to those points which have been defined by the infallible judgment of the Church as dogmas of faith to be believed by all.
His Holiness Pope Pius XII also adds to this in his Encyclical Humani Generis, paragraph 20:
Nor must it be thought that what is expounded in Encyclical Letters does not of itself demand consent, since in writing such Letters the Popes do not exercise the supreme power of their Teaching Authority. For these matters are taught with the ordinary teaching authority, of which it is true to say: "He who heareth you, heareth Me"; (Lk. 10:16) and generally what is expounded and inculcated in Encyclical Letters already for other reasons appertains to Catholic doctrine. But if the Supreme Pontiffs in their official documents purposely pass judgment on a matter up to that time under dispute, it is obvious that that matter, according to the mind and will of the same Pontiffs, cannot be any longer considered a question open to discussion among theologians.
Followers of Fr. Feeney's unique interpretation of "no salvation outside the Church" (including the Dimonds) are fond of pointing out that the Supreme and Extraordinary Magisterium of the Church has never been invoked in declaring Fr. Feeney's interpretation, and his denials of BOB and BOD as being yea verily heresies. That is true. And of course neither has the contrary been affirmed at that level (or indeed any other) by any Church authority. For that matter, much of what is taught in any standard Catechism consists of teachings that have never been thus "defined" with such total and irrevocable infallibility. But is therefore everything else open to question? Are we supposed to be going through our Catechisms, deciding for ourselves what in them is true and what in them is not? Is the meaning of any Church teaching, as universally understood by Her theologians, to be of no account if we happen to disagree? Are we to believe that if a pope were to invoke the fullest weight of his infallibility that he might therefore be enabled to promulgate some conclusion heretofore altogether unknown and unexpected by all such theologians, in sheer defiance of all of what is known, and as if revealing some new doctrine?
As stated repeatedly in The Loyolas and the Cabots the St. Benedict's Center members were ever and anon calling for Rome to issue an infallible decree on the subject of "no salvation outside the Church," with special additional discussions regarding BOB, BOD, both explicit and implicit, and ignorance. Though the few leaders of the group who had looked up the quotes in the original and who therefore knew what they really said could not have been so fooled, I have no doubt that the vast majority of the rank and file of their followers all fully expected that the Charism of infallibility would prevent the Pope from declaring anything but what those at St. Benedict's Center were claiming. They likely believed that so long as the Pope does not invoke his infallibility he could be subject to error, but that by invoking infallibility the pope might thereby even be taught himself what the Church was (secretly) "really" supposed to believe. But as we know, infallibility does not enable a pope to reveal new doctrine but only to rule on questions between known legitimately held positions within the Church, and the denials of BOB and BOD were never among those legitimately held positions.
So, given that, there is no way that, had His Holiness Pope Pius XII so invoked the fullest weight of his Papal Infallibility, he could have ever affirmed the claims made by the St. Benedict's Center. So, what would they have done if he had so used the fullest weight of his infallibility to speak most dogmatically on the question, and thereby condemned their position? I have no doubt that some would have even so sought some obscure basis to deny that he had actually invoked that "fullest weight" of his papally infallible authority, or else even rejected his papacy. Perhaps that latter was hinted at when Fr. Feeney wrote in Bread of Life, page 42:
The most visible ruler in the world, our Holy Father, in his white robe and white zucchetto, may as well take off his triple tiara and get down from his golden throne, and leave Christianity to the kind of committee arrangements to which it is committed in the present-day America, if we keep on preaching "Baptism of Desire."
In an article titled "Baptism of Desire and Theological Principles" by the Reverend Anthony Cekada, probably one of the most deductively theological works regarding BOB and BOD, some 25 famous theologians are referred to as all teaching both BOB and BOD. Of those among them who assigned theological notes to their teachings about these, those who did so rated them as anything from "certain" (the lowest that it would still be a mortal sin to contradict) to "de fide" (the most serious of a mortal sin to contradict). A packet of copies of the relevant pages from the works of all 25 of these theologians is available from St. Gertrude the Great Church, 4900 Rialto Road, West Chester OH 45069. Regrettably, only 5 of these theologians have written their work in English, such that what they said can be included here. Even the works of the two sainted doctors, St. Robert Bellarmine and St. Alphonsus Ligouri, are provided in this package only in Latin, along with 18 others. The theologians, as packaged, and as excerpted here, are arranged in a roughly alphabetical order.
I realize that it is not enough to simply say, "Look, all these theologians say that BOB and BOD, explicit and implicit, are without a doubt true Catholic doctrines, and look at all the letters after their names; surely they must know more than you do." Some of these 25 theologians (and admittedly a much higher proportion of the English-writing ones) come from an era in which the writings of Teilhard de Chardin and Hans Küng and their ilk were already surreptitiously making the rounds among the more devious or "hip" seminarians around the world, and as such their mere theological "vote" in favor of a doctrine might of itself carry little weight. What is of far more relevance is the arguments made by nearly all of them as to why and how these doctrines are true and how they are meant to be understood. The arguments stand on their own weight and merit, regardless of who it was that wrote them, though it does also bear mention that as theological writers whose works were long used in the seminaries of the Church, in some cases for several centuries, their work would have to have been peer reviewed, reviewed by the Church, subject to correction by superiors in the Hierarchy, and as such do not represent merely the private opinions of some admittedly educated individuals, but the teaching and belief of Holy Mother Church Herself (Ordinary Magisterium). And had any of them ever resorted to the sort of misrepresentation of their sources as so typically run through Peter Dimond's Treatise (and similarly through the writings of others who deny BOB and/or BOD), they would have been permanently disgraced.
None of them seem to have been cognizant of Fr. Feeney in particular, as someone to refute, only Peter Abélard, since most of them predate Fr. Feeney. I should also point out that there is nothing special about the 25 Theologians (and I here list their names: 1) Abarzuza, F.X.; 2) Aertnys, I.; 3) Billot, Ludovicus Cardinal; 4) Cappello, Felix M.; 5) Coronata, Matthæus; 6) Davis, Henry; 7) Herrmann, R.P.J.; 8) Hervé, J.M.; 9) Hurter, H.; 10) Iorio, Thomas A.; 11) Lennerz, H.; 12) Ligouri, St. Alphonse de; 13) McAuliffe, Clarence; 14) Merkelbach, Benedictus H.; 15) Noldin, H.; 16) Ott, Ludwig; 17) Pohle, Joseph; 18) Prümmer, Dominicus M.; 19) Regatillo, Eduardus F.; 20) Sabetti, Aloysius; 21) Solà, Franciscus; 22) Tanquerey, Adolphus; 23) Zalba, Marcellino; 24) Zubizarreta, Valentinus; and 25) Bellarmine, St. Robert). They merely happen to be the theologians whose writings that bear directly on the topic happened to be found on the shelf of Fr. Cekada's personal library, a random assortment of theologians whose works have been used in the training of seminarians over the past several centuries, a small subset of all the possible sources one might cite, it is true, but a sufficiently large sampling to represent with extreme reliability, the voice of all the rest.
The first (and least interesting) of these theologians is Henry Davis, S.J., Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at Heythrop College, the Specialist Philosophy and Theology College of the University of London, who writes in his work, Moral and Pastoral Theology - In Four Volumes in pages 39-40:
Section 1. The Nature of Baptism
Baptism is a Sacrament of the New Law instituted by Jesus Christ by which man is spiritually born by means of ablution with water and the express invocation of the three Divine Persons of the Blessed Trinity. It is, therefore, the Sacrament of regeneration through water in the word or form. Consequently, it differs from all other Sacraments, not only in respect of its matter and form, but also by reason of its specific effect, namely, spiritual rebirth. It is true that the Sacrament of Penance restores the extinct spiritual life to the soul, but it does not produce a regeneration strictly so called; it restores a life that has become extinguished by the loss of sanctifying grace through grievous sin. Baptism, however, imparts that life from the beginning.
Baptism is the gate or entrance to the other Sacraments, so that actual Baptism by water is essential for the valid reception of any other Sacrament; it is called also the foundation of the other Sacraments, for without actual Baptism by water, the other Sacraments have no foundation, as a title to sacramental effect, on which to rest. Thus, though a man can be forgiven grievous sin, receive sanctifying grace and be saved without actual [i. e. with water] Baptism - if he is unable to receive Baptism and makes an act of the love of God - he could not validly receive priestly absolution from his sins and it would be a sacrilege to attempt to give it to him.
Section 2. Baptism of Desire and of Blood
The Baptism hitherto spoken of is Baptism by water. But since God wishes all to be saved, and since Baptism by water is not always possible, its place can be supplied by Baptism of desire or of the Holy Spirit, and by Baptism of blood. Baptism of the Spirit means the reception of sanctifying grace, and therefore of spiritual life through an act of perfect charity or of perfect contrition for sin, and these acts include, at least implicitly, the desire to fulfill all the commands of Christ. This Baptism of the Spirit remits mortal sins and the eternal punishment due to them. Baptism of blood means martyrdom endured by an unbaptized person for Christ or for the Faith or for some other Christian virtue, faith being pre-supposed. The martyrdom of children, who cannot exercise a human act, supplies in their case the place of actual Baptism by water. In an adult, some act of sorrow for actual mortal sin, if present, is necessary for fruitful reception, and some intention of receiving Baptism for valid reception.
Baptism by water or the desire of it (in re aut in voto) is necessary for salvation for all adults: "Unless a man be born of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (J. 3, 5). For adults, it is necessary for salvation as a matter also of divine precept, since they are seriously bound to take the means that are necessary for salvation.
One would have to agree that Fr. Davis is the least interesting, since he merely weighs in as favoring BOB and BOD in no uncertain terms, but provides no quotes, no reasoning, no basis for his position. The discussion of the situation of the unbaptized infant-martyrs is especially too vague. It is all too obvious that he is offering the conclusions, not the content, of his research and training. Had they all been like this, quoting them would admittedly be of little value, but I include it for completeness, for at least he does not disagree with any of the others in any detail whatsoever.
The next theologian in this package, Clarence McAuliffe, S.J., in his work, Sacramental Theology - A Textbook for Advanced Studies, goes into much more detail. He writes, on pages 80-89:
Conclusion 3. All men must be baptized in order to save their souls. However, in extraordinary circumstances baptism of love and baptism of martyrdom can substitute for baptism.
Introduction. It is already plain that baptism is more or less necessary for salvation since it removes sin, gives grace, and is required for Church membership. All these effects are necessary for salvation. In this Conclusion, however, we determine precisely how necessary baptism is for salvation.
Explanation of Terms
1. All men. Even infants are included.
2. To save their souls. Without baptism men cannot attain the beatific vision, their supernatural destiny. Unbaptized infants go to limbo where they enjoy a purely natural happiness.
3. Baptism. When we use this word without qualification, we always mean baptism by water. This is the only true baptism. It alone is a sacrament, imprints a character, and enables one to receive the other sacraments. Only baptism operates ex opere operato and causally.
4. Baptism of love. It is frequently called "baptism of desire," and, sometimes, "baptism of the Spirit," or "baptism of repentance."
It consists in an act of perfect love for God or of perfect contrition for one's sins and it always includes at least an implicit desire for baptism. Pagans, for instance, who cannot receive baptism, can be saved by an act of perfect love in which they implicitly desire baptism. Their love would not be perfect unless it included this desire.
Baptism of love produces the principal effects of baptism. It regenerates a man, forgives original and mortal sins, and eternal punishment. It makes one a member of the Church in desire only. It does not necessarily remit venial sins and all temporal punishment due to sins. To accomplish this, the act of love must be of most excellent quality.
Baptism of love does not give grace ex opere operato. It depends entirely upon the subjective acts of the person.
5. Baptism of martyrdom. Martyrdom is the patient endurance of a lethal torture inflicted out of hatred for Christ or for the Christian faith or Christian virtue.
Since infants can become true martyrs, it is evident that they do not need any subjective disposition. They owe the grace of martyrdom to God's special providence alone.
Adults, however, must have a disposition for martyrdom.
First, they must have an intention, at least habitual, to suffer martyrdom. However, a person martyred in his sleep could be a genuine martyr if he had once resolved to suffer death for the faith and never retracted this resolve.
Second, they must have at least an implicit intention to be baptized. Whenever possible, the martyr must be baptized before martyrdom.
Third, a supernatural motive is required for martyrdom. This means that the martyr must be impelled by a motive based on faith. Ordinarily this motive will be a perfect love for God. However, if this were the only motive allowable, we could hardly distinguish martyrdom from baptism of love. Hence other possible motives may direct the martyr. They might be hope of eternal reward, preservation of chastity, guarding of the seal of confession, love for the faith. Even in the natural sphere, not every man, a soldier for instance, who surrenders his life for some cause or other, is actuated by perfect love for some person or cause.
Fourth, an act of supernatural faith must precede or accompany martyrdom.
Fifth, one who has committed mortal sins must be sorry for them, at least with imperfect contrition. God never forgives sins without repentance.
Finally, the martyr cannot offer even lawful resistance to his persecutor. Martyrdom is objectively an imitation of Christ's death upon the cross. Christ offered no resistance.
Martyrdom has most of the effects of baptism and remits even venial sins and all temporal punishment due to sins. But it is not a sacrament, does not imprint a character, and gives no right to receive the other sacraments.
Since martyrdom sanctifies babies, who can have no merits or disposition, it must operate ex opere operato, i.e., the act of enduring martyrdom must have in itself the power to produce grace and other supernatural effects. The same is true for adults also, since even without perfect love they are sanctified by martyrdom. Hence the effects of martyrdom cannot be attributed to the merits of the adult martyr.
Nevertheless, it is more likely that martyrdom is a condition or occasion of sanctification, not a true cause, since, so far as we know, only sacraments produce grace ex opere operato and causally. Just as circumcision sanctified ex opere operato, but merely as a condition, so martyrdom of itself sanctifies, but not as an instrumental cause.
6. Must be baptized. If a thing is necessary to accomplish some objective, we cannot get along without it. But necessity admits degrees. We speak of things as being more or less necessary. With regard to baptism, it is well to distinguish necessity of precept and of means.
Necessity of precept means that something is necessary because a superior commands it. Thus attendance at Mass on Sundays and holydays is necessary because the Church has ordered it. Such a precept imposes a moral obligation and so applies to adults only. When the precept cannot be fulfilled owing to ignorance or other impossibility, the precept simply ceases. Nothing else must be done in place of the act commanded. For instance, if a Catholic does not attend Mass because he is sick in bed, he is not obliged to say the Rosary or to listen to the broadcast of a Mass. Nothing has to be done and yet the man has not sinned by missing Mass for so good a reason. Since God has commanded that all people be baptized, baptism is necessary by precept, but it is more necessary even than this.
Necessity of means signifies that some act or thing is objectively necessary as a means to obtain some purpose, which accordingly cannot be achieved without the act or thing. Thus air is necessary for human life with necessity of means. Moreover, no substitute can be found for air and so it is necessary with absolute necessity of means. In the supernatural order, sanctifying grace is necessary for salvation nor is there any substitute for it. Repentance is necessary for the sinner in the same way. Although baptism is necessary with necessity of means, it is not necessary with this absolute necessity.
An act or thing can be objectively necessary in order to attain some purpose by hypothetical or relative necessity of means also. This signifies that in extraordinary circumstances some substitute can be used in place of the ordinary act or thing. For instance, some material is needed to heat a home in cold weather. For many people the ordinary fuel is gas. But if gas cannot be obtained, coal can replace it. But for these people coal will be used only because gas is unavailable. Coal is a substitute for gas, but it will be used in extraordinary circumstances only.
Similarly, baptism is objectively required for salvation. However, in certain unusual circumstances, baptism of love or of martyrdom can substitute for it in the case of adults. Infants have but one substitute, martyrdom, and it is rare. Baptism, therefore, is necessary with hypothetical or relative necessity of means.
It should be observed that two practical norms may be followed to determine whether something is necessary by necessity of precept only or by necessity of means. First, we may ask: Is this act or thing necessary for infants also? If so, the necessity is not only of precept, but also of means. Second, we may ask ourselves: When a person cannot fulfill the act required, does the duty to perform the act completely cease, or must something else be done in its place? If the obligation to perform the act simply ceases, we have necessity of precept only. If some other act must be done in its place, we have necessity of means.
In extraordinary circumstances. The unusual circumstances in which baptism of love or of martyrdom can substitute for baptism are these. First, when a person, a pagan adult for instance, is ignorant of baptism or its necessity. Second, when it is impossible for some other reason for a person to be baptized. Third, when a person, at least implicitly, desires baptism.
Adversaries. Some Protestants, Quakers for example, do not think that baptism is necessary at all. Many Protestants believe that it is necessary by necessity of precept only. Comparatively few Protestants hold that baptism is necessary with necessity of means.
Part 1. That baptism is required by necessity of precept is an article of divine faith from the Council of Trent (DB. 861; CT. 560): "If anyone says that baptism is free, that is, not necessary for salvation, let him be anathema." This definition must mean necessity of precept at least.
Part 2. That baptism is necessary for salvation by necessity of means is implicitly of divine faith. Trent (DB. 796; CT. 691), when speaking of the necessity of baptism, includes all those who have been born. Thus infants are included, who cannot be bound by necessity of precept.
Part 3. Baptism of love can substitute for baptism in extraordinary circumstances. This is Catholic doctrine from a condemned proposition of Baius (DB. 1031): "Perfect and sincere charity ... can exist both in catechumens and in penitents without the remission of sins." The contradictory of this proposition is true. Therefore, charity cannot exist in unbaptized catechumens without the remission of sins.
Part 4. Baptism of martyrdom can substitute for baptism in extraordinary circumstances. This is common and certain teaching with regard to both adults and infants.
Part 1. Baptism is necessary for salvation by necessity of precept.
Proof 2. From Holy Scripture (Matt. 28:19): "Going therefore, teach ye all nations baptizing them. ..." By these words Christ commands the apostles to baptize all men. It follows, accordingly, that all men must obey this command by receiving baptism.
Proof 3. From theological reasoning. Since baptism is required by necessity of means, we may be sure that God also commanded it.
Part 2. Baptism is necessary by necessity of means.
Proof 2. From Holy Scripture (John 3:5): "Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of Heaven." This text is dogmatically certain (DB. 796; CT. 560): apologetically, certain.
The word "man" does not mean an adult. In the original text, the word is anyone." By itself this word seems to include infants. But when conjoined with "born again," it certainly includes infants. The obvious meaning is: All those who are born, must be reborn. Accordingly, the necessity of baptism must be of means.
Proof 3. From the Fathers. A very clear citation from St. Augustine will suffice: "Do not believe or say or teach that infants who die before baptism are able to obtain forgiveness of original sin ..." (De anima et ejus orig. 1. 3, c. 9; PL. 44, 516).
Part 3. Baptism of love can substitute for baptism in extraordinary circumstances.
Proof 2. From Holy Scripture. "And he that loves Me, shall be loved of My Father: and I will love him and manifest Myself to him" (John 14:21). The text is dogmatically certain; apologetically, probable. Since the act of love wins God's love, it must sanctify a person. God saves those whom He loves.
It is clear from the Acts (10:44-47) that the pagan Cornelius possessed sanctifying grace before his baptism, since he had already received the Holy Ghost. Moreover, he obtained this grace by an act of perfect love more probably. He was "a religious man, and fearing God with all his house, giving much alms to the people, and always praying to God" (10:2). A man so prayerful quite likely made an act of perfect love for God and so it is probable that Cornelius received grace by the baptism of love. Yet it should be noted (vv. 47, 48) that he was subsequently baptized. His act of love was not independent of baptism. Pohle-Preuss, The Sacraments, I, 245-248 offers some clear quotations from the Fathers to prove this part.
Part 4. Baptism of martyrdom can substitute for baptism in extraordinary circumstances.
Proof 2. From Holy Scripture (Matt. 10:39): "He that findeth his life, shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for Me, shall find it." The meaning of this declaration is quite plain. However, infants are not necessarily included in it. As regards adults, the text is dogmatically certain; apologetically, very probable.
Proof 3. From the Fathers. St. Augustine declares: "To all those who die confessing Christ, even though they have not received the laver of regeneration, [martyrdom] will prove as effective for the remission of their sins as if they were washed in the baptismal font" (De. Civ. Dei, XIII, 7; PL. 41, 381). This statement applies to adults at least.
That infants, too, are sanctified by martyrdom is certain from the practice of the Church which honors them as genuine martyrs. The feast of the Holy Innocents, December 28, is one manifestation of this conviction.
The Fathers, too, testify that infants can be true martyrs. For instance, Pope St. Leo the Great (died 461 A.D.) says of the Holy Innocents: "Those whom the wicked king removed from the this world, were brought to Heaven by Christ, and He conferred the dignity of martyrdom on those upon whom He had not yet bestowed the redemption of His blood" (In Epiph. I, 3).
1. If baptism is so necessary for salvation, all pagans must be lost.
Answer. All pagan adults receive from God enough grace to make an act of perfect love and so can be saved by the baptism of love. If they do not cooperate with this grace, they are lost, but it is their own fault. Their baptism of love includes a desire for baptism because the very act of love implies a willingness to do all that God commands them. We know that God demands baptism when it is possible.
2. It is unjust for a still-born baby to be lost without any fault of its own.
Answer. There can be no question of injustice here, since eternal life in the beatific vision is a supernatural gift. No one has the right to this gift.
3. But God wants babies saved. How can we reconcile this desire with the fact that some babies are lost through nobody's fault?
Answer. Most babies can be baptized and it is the fault of their parents or guardians if they are not. Nevertheless, some babies cannot be baptized and a mystery is involved in this fact, since it is certain that God wants conditionally their salvation.
Though theologians cannot solve this mystery perfectly, they offer solutions which indicate how God may solve it. In all cases, the blame for lack of baptism must fall upon a human will, not upon God's will. Some human beings, either living or dead, either by a sinful or a non-sinful act, either a relative or a non-relative, did something which prevents this particular baby from being baptized.
If we would be merciful to unbaptized babies, we should remember that God is infinitely more merciful than we are. It is also well to recall that babies that die unbaptized suffer no natural punishment. In fact, they have a perfect natural happiness. They do not even know that they have been deprived of the beatific vision. They are in the limbo of unending natural happiness.
4. In Scripture we read of adult baptisms only. Infants, then do not need baptism.
Answer. Scripture usually mentions the baptism of adults only. But baptism was conferred upon these adults, not because they were adults, but because they were converted as adults. St. Paul (Acts 16:33) tells about the baptism of an entire household. Infants, therefore, if there were any in this household, were probably included.
Besides, in St. Paul's mind baptism corresponds to circumcision. But we know that circumcision was conferred upon infants.
Moreover, Scripture is but a partial account of the life of Christ and the early Church. Tradition shows that infant baptism has been practiced from the beginning. The text of St. John is inescapable: Whoever is born, must be reborn.
To deny the necessity of infant baptism is to acknowledge ignorance of the meaning of original sin and of Christ's redemption.
5. Christ Himself was not baptized until He was an adult.
Answer. Of course not. Baptism had not yet been instituted. But Christ was circumcised as an infant. He received later on the baptism of John the Baptist. He never received the baptism which He Himself instituted and which we have today.
6. Christ said (Matt. 19:14): "Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come to Me: for the kingdom of Heaven is for such." So babies can come to Christ without baptism.
Answer. From the context it is plain that our Lord simply wished by this verse to inculcate humility in His apostles. Those adults who have the dispositions of a child will enter into the kingdom.
7. It would seem that infants are now in a less favorable condition for obtaining salvation than they were before Christ's coming. At that time only an act of faith had to be externally manifested by parents or guardians in order to remove original sin.
Answer. First, both now and before Christ's coming infants had to be saved though the agency of others. Second, faith was required in the minister of the sacrament of nature, as it is called. But faith is not required in the minister of baptism. Third, lack of faith was widespread among Gentiles before Christ's advent so that the sacrament of nature was frequently not administered. Supernatural faith is much more common today.
Comment 1. When did the necessity of baptism for all men become sufficiently promulgated?
The Council of Trent (DB. 796; CT. 560) declares that baptism became necessary "after the promulgation of the gospel." Hence, theologians inquire when precisely the gospel was sufficiently promulgated so that baptism became necessary universally.
The New Law was promulgated on Pentecost Day and so baptism became necessary for some people on that day. However, theologians commonly teach that baptism became necessary for different races at different times. No law is binding until it is sufficiently promulgated.
It is almost certain that today the baptismal law is sufficiently promulgated all over the world. A few theologians think that even now the law has not been adequately promulgated to a few isolated peoples. This opinion has not been censured.
Nevertheless, it is worth recalling that sufficient promulgation of a law does not require that the law be brought to each individual. The individual is obliged to use ordinary diligence to become acquainted with the laws. Catholic missionaries have been at work for some time in every part of the world. Therefore, the law requiring baptism seems to be sufficiently promulgated everywhere. Cf. Pohle-Preuss, The Sacraments, I, 241-243.
Comment 2. The minister of baptism.
As already mentioned under the sacraments in general, anyone having a sufficient intention and placing correctly the matter and form, can baptize validly at any time and at any place. No one can validly baptize himself. Moreover, for validity the same person must both pour the water and utter the form.
As regards liceity, anyone may baptize in case of necessity. However, under ordinary circumstances the minister must have the character of orders and authorization. Hence bishops may always licitly baptize members of their dioceses. Pastors may baptize members of their parishes. Other priests besides the pastor may also licitly baptize if they obtain permission. Even deacons may be licitly delegated to confer baptism.
Under ordinary circumstances baptism should be administered solemnly, i.e., with all the rites prescribed in the Roman Ritual, and usually in a church. When the laity baptize in cases of necessity, the infant, if it survives, should be brought to the church later on so that the pastor can supply the ceremonies. Lay ministers do no more than to pour the water and pronounce the form.
Comment 3. The recipient of baptism.
Baptism is invalid unless an adult consents to receive it. Hence accusations, sometimes made, that the Church forces people to be baptized are false. God compels no one to receive His gifts.
For fruitful baptism an adult must make an act of at least imperfect contrition involving acts of faith and of hope.
Once a person realizes the necessity of baptism, he should not defer its reception for a long time. However, it should be deferred ordinarily until the prospective convert is sufficiently instructed in the Catholic faith.
The baptism of infants is always valid and fruitful on their part. Infants should be baptized as soon as possible after birth.
Clarence McAuliffe covers here a great deal of ground and elucidates much regarding the nature Baptism, both the Sacrament and how necessary it is, but also how the sacrament can be substituted for by Baptism of blood or desire, and goes into quite some detail as to the criteria required for each. He also explores such obscure cases as infant martyrs, of whom no one has specifically been identified outside the Holy Innocents, though another of these theologians (Tanquerey, see below) mentions the possibility of there having been others, without identifying any particular possible persons, e. g. martyr-saints whose newly-born and not-as-yet-baptized children have been killed alongside them. An infant-martyr is obviously a rare case, and may in all likelihood apply to only the barest handful of individuals throughout all of human history. Of this theologian, nothing is said in the Treatise, since his delineation of how a necessity of means can still be broken into two categories of absolute means (no substitutes) and relative (or, as some other authors use, "hypothetical means") (either the thing itself or some particular acceptable substitute(s)), as initially brought out in Installment 4 where a small part of the above was already quoted. One finds this same distinction among all the authors, insofar as any of them go into at least this much detail, and also in the catechisms as well.
The next theologian in this package, Dr. Ludwig Ott, in his work, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, also explores the topic in some detail. He writes, on pages 356 and 357:
§ 4. The Necessity of Baptism
1. Necessity of Baptism for Salvation
Baptism by water (Baptismus fluminis) is, since the promulgation of the Gospel, necessary for all men without exception, for salvation. (De fide.)
The Council of Trent declared against the Reformers, whose idea of justification led them to deny it, the necessity of Baptism for salvation : si quis dixerit, baptismum liberum esse, hoc est non necessarium ad salutem, A.S. D 861. Cf. D 791. As to the moment of the beginning of the baptismal obligation, the Council of Trent declared that after the promulgation of the Gospel (post Evangelium promulgatum) there could be no justification without Baptism or the desire for the same. D 796. The necessity of Baptism for salvation is, according to John 3, 5 and Mk. 16, 16, a necessity of means (necessitas medii), and, according to Mt. 28, 19, also a necessity of precept (necessitas præcepti). The necessity of means does not derive from the intrinsic nature of the Sacrament itself, but from the designation of Baptism as an indispensable means of salvation by a positive ordinance of God. In special circumstances the actual use of the prescribed means can be dispensed with (hypothetical necessity).
Tradition, in view of John 3, 5, strongly stresses the necessity of Baptism for salvation. Tertullian, invoking these words, observes: "It is determined by law that nobody can be saved without baptism" (De bapt. 12, 1). Cf. Pastor Hermæ, Sim. IX 16.
2. Substitutes for Sacramental Baptism
In case of emergency Baptism by water can be replaced by Baptism of desire of Baptism by blood. (Sent. fidei prox.)
a) Baptism of desire (Baptismus flaminis sive Spiritus Sancti)
Baptism of desire is the explicit or implicit desire for sacramental baptism (votum baptismi) associated with perfect contrition (contrition based on charity).
The council of Trent teaches that justification from original sin is not possible "without the washing unto regeneration or the desire for the same" (sine lavacro regenerationis aut cius voto). D 796. Cf. D 847, 388, 413.
According to the teaching of Holy Writ, perfect love possesses justifying power. Luke 7,47: "Many sins are forgiven her because she hath loved much." John 14,21: "He that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father: and I will love him and will manifest Myself to him." Luke 23, 43: "This day thou shalt be with Me in Paradise."
The chief witnesses from Tradition are St. Ambrose and St, Augustine. In the funeral oration on the Emperor Valentine II, who died without Baptism, St. Ambrose says: "Should he not acquire the grace for which he longed? Certainly: As he desired it, he has attained it ... His pious desire has absolved him." (De obitu Valent. 51,53). St. Augustine declared: "I find that not only suffering for the sake of Christ can replace that which is lacking in Baptism, but also faith and conversion of the heart (fidem conversionemque cordis), if perhaps the shortness of the time does not permit the celebration of the mystery of Baptism" (De bapt. IV 22, 29). In the period of early Scholasticism St. Bernard of Clairvaux (Ep. 77 c. 2 n. 6-9), Hugo of St. Victor (De sacr. II 6, 7) and the Summa Sententiarum (V 5) defended the possibility of Baptism of desire against Peter Abélard. Cf. S. th. III 68, 2.
Baptism of desire works ex opere operantis. It bestows Sanctifying Grace, which remits original sin, all actual sins, and the eternal punishments for sin. Venial sins and temporal punishments for sin are remitted according to the intensity of the subjective disposition. The baptismal character is not imprinted, nor is it the gateway to the other sacraments.
b) Baptism of blood (baptismus sanguinis)
Baptism of blood signifies martyrdom of an unbaptized person, that is, the patient bearing of a violent death or of an assault which of its nature leads to death, by reason of one's confession of the Christian faith, or one's practice of Christian virtue.
Jesus Himself attests the justifying power of martyrdom. Mt. 10, 32: "Every one therefore that shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father Who is in Heaven." Mt. 10, 39 (16, 25): "He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that shall lose his life for Me shall find it." John 12, 25: "He that hateth his life in this world keepeth it unto life eternal."
From the beginning the Fathers regarded martyrdom as a substitute for Baptism. Tertullian calls it "blood Baptism" (lavacrum sanguinis) and ascribes to it the effect of "taking the place of the baptismal bath if it was not received, and restoring that which was lost" (De bapt. 16). According to St. Cyprian, the catechumens who suffer martyrdom receive "the glorious and most sublime blood-Baptism" (Ep. 73, 22). Cf. Augustine, De civ. Dei XIII 7.
As, according to the testimony of Tradition and of the Church Liturgy (cf. Feast of the Innocents), young children can also receive blood-Baptism, blood-Baptism operates not merely ex opere operantis as does Baptism of desire, but since it is an objective confession of Faith it operates also quasi ex opere operato. It confers the grace of justification, and when proper dispositions are present, also the remission of all venial sins and temporal punishments. St. Augustine says: "It is an affront to a martyr to pray for him; we should rather recommend ourselves to his prayers" (Sermo 159, 1). Baptism by blood does not confer the baptismal character. Cf. S. th. III 66, 11 and 12.
These are the relevant portions of Dr. Ludwig Ott's book. Of this section, the Treatise only quotes one small portion, misleadingly implying that Dr. Ott denies BOB and BOD:
Dr. Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, The Necessity of Baptism, p. 354: "1. Necessity of Baptism for Salvation - Baptism by water (Baptismus Fluminis) is, since the promulgation of the Gospel, necessary for all men without exception, for salvation. (de fide.)"
Since this volume is readily in the hands of too many Catholics (any of whom might look it up), he felt obliged to admit that Dr. Ott did not actually deny BOB and BOD at all, but in fact quite strongly affirms them in no uncertain terms. Of course, this admission had to be framed in a most horrible injury to the good reputation of Dr. Ott. Peter Dimond accuses Dr. Ott of being double minded, or even self-contradictory, as if he were incapable of discerning when he has supposedly written contradictory claims even on the same page! See here, from the Treatise:
The fact that Dr. Ludwig Ott immediately proceeds to contradict the above statement on the absolute necessity of water baptism without exception in his book, and proceeds to teach baptism of desire and blood on the very same page - which ideas he interestingly does not term de fide (of the Faith) but close to the Faith - simply shows that the common error of baptism of desire, that became almost unanimous among "theologians" such as Ott in the late 19th and early 20th century, is simply not in harmony with the universal, constant (and de fide) teaching of the Church on the absolute necessity of water baptism without exception for salvation.
But as one can see from the actual quote, when given in full, there is no actual contradiction: Baptism of one form or another is required for salvation; the forms are the Sacrament (using water), or in extraordinary circumstances, the grace alone of the Sacrament (without the Sacrament itself) as provided for when the Sacrament is not available to a soul. And see here the mention of the theologians of the 19th and 20th centuries, as though one might have heard otherwise from theologians of previous centuries! But of course, the theologians of all eras all say exactly the same things about BOB and BOD, as I have shown.
Dr. Ott is admits that the unbaptized are not to be counted among the members of the Church. Omitted from this quote is the fact that not all deny membership (of at least some sort) in the Church to the unbaptized catechumens, for Suarez opines differently, though Dr. Ott does not side with him:
Dr. Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Membership in the Church, p. 309: "3. Among the members of the Church are not to be counted: a) The unbaptized… The so-called blood Baptism and the Baptism of desire, it is true, replace Baptism by water (sic) in so far as the communication of grace is concerned, but do not effect incorporation into the Church… Catechumens are not to be counted among the members of the Church… The Church claims no jurisdiction over them (D 895). The Fathers draw a sharp line of separation between Catechumens and 'the faithful.'"
However, Dr. Ott does go on to say only a few paragraphs later:
The necessity for belonging to the Church is not merely of precept (necessitas præcepti), but also a necessity of means (nec. medii), as the comparison shows with the Ark, the means of salvation from the biblical flood, plainly shows. The necessity of means is, however, not an absolute necessity, but a hypothetical one. In special circumstances, namely, in the case of invincible ignorance or of incapability, actual membership of the Church can be replaced by desire (votum) for the same. This need not be expressly (explicite) present, but can also be included in the moral readiness faithfully to fulfill the will of God (votum implicitum). In this manner also those who are in fact outside the Catholic Church can achieve salvation.
So the necessity to enter the Church exactly parallels the necessity to be baptized, for the two are the same, and both equally and likewise admit the substitute of a choice for same where that choice cannot be carried out. What Dr. Ott specifies at the end about how "who are in fact outside the Catholic Church can achieve salvation" is not "salvation outside the Church" (for that is patently impossible), but future salvation to those presently outside the Church, though of course their salvation comes only with entry into the Church (Suffering or Triumphant) upon their death, if they die justified by their faith.
One can see this passage as an example of the fact that BOB and BOD are more than something obligingly mentioned only at one point merely to "please" modernists (something Dr. Ott was not the least bit inclined to do), but in fact something running through the warp and woof of his whole understanding of theology, and again fully in accord with what the other theologians teach. And here it is affirmed that the Church draws a "sharp line of separation between Catechumens and 'the faithful'," so it cannot be said that the Church would therefore be so sloppy to categorize a baptized martyr, even one newly-baptized, as a "catechumen."
The next theologian in this package, The Right Reverend Monsignor Joseph Pohle, Phd., D. D., in his work, The Sacraments - A Dogmatic Treatise, also explores this topic in some considerable detail. He writes, on pages 238-253:
CHAPTER II THE NECESSITY OF BAPTISM
Baptism is necessary for salvation, but, under certain conditions, the place of Baptism by water (baptismus fluminis) may be supplied by Baptism of desire (baptismus flaminis) or by Baptism of blood (baptismus sangiunis). We shall explain the Catholic teaching on this point in three thesis.
Thesis I: Baptism is necessary for salvation.
This proposition embodies an article of faith.
Proof. We have, in a previous treatise, [Footnote: Pohle-Preuss, Grace, Actual and Habitual, pp. 281 sqq.] distinguished between two kinds of necessity: necessity of means (necessitas medii) and necessity of precept (necessitas præcepti).
Since Baptism is necessary for infants no less than for adults, it follows that all men need it as a means of salvation (necessitas medii), and that for adults it is also of precept (necessitas præcepti). However, since the Baptism of water may sometimes be supplied by the Baptism of desire or the Baptism of blood, Baptism of water is not absolutely necessary as a means of salvation but merely in a hypothetical way. That Baptism is necessary for salvation is an expressly defined dogma, for the Council of Trent declares: "If any one saith that Baptism is free, that is, not necessary unto salvation, let him be anathema." [Footnote: Sess. VII, De Bapt., can 5: "Si quis dixerit, baptismum liberum esse, hoc est non necessarium ad salutem, anathema sit." (Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 861).]
a) This can be conclusively proved from Holy Scripture. Our Lord's command: "Teach ye all nations, baptizing them," [Footnote: Matth. XXVIII, 19.] plainly imposes on all men the duty to receive Baptism, as is evidenced by a parallel passage in St. Mark: "Go ye into the whole world, and preach the Gospel to every creature; he that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned." [Footnote: Mark XVI, 15 sq.] Here we have Christ's plain and express declaration that while unbelief is sufficient to incur damnation, faith does not ensure salvation unless it is accompanied by Baptism.
That Baptism is necessary as a means of salvation (necessitas medii) follows from John III, 5: "Unless a man be born again [Footnote: έὰν μή τις γεννηθη̃.] of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven." Spiritual regeneration is more than a mere keeping of the Commandments; it involves a complete transformation of the soul. As no one can come into this world without being born, so no one can enter Heaven unless he is supernaturally reborn. Hence Baptism is, ordinarily, a necessary means of salvation. [Footnote: V. Thesis II and III, infra.]
b) This teaching is upheld by Tradition.
The African bishops assembled at the Council of Carthage (416), in a letter to Innocent I, complain of the cruelty of the Pelagians, who condemn their children to eternal death by refusing them Baptism. [Footnote: "Parvulos etiam baptizandos negant ac sic eos mortifera ista doctrina in æternum necant."]
Tertullian writes: "The precept is laid down that without Baptism salvation is attainable by none, chiefly on the ground of that declaration of the Lord, who says: Unless a man be born of water, he hath not eternal life." [Footnote: De Bapt., c. 12: "Præscribitur nemini sine baptismo competere salutem ex illa maxime pronuntiatione Domini, qui ait: Nisi natus quis ex aqua fuerit, non habet vitam æternam."]
St. Basil, at a somewhat later date, says: "If you have not passed through the water, you will not be freed from the cruel tyranny of the devil." [Footnote: Hom. on Bapt., n. 2.- Cfr. A. Seitz, Die Heilsnotwendigkeit der Kirche nach der altchristlichen Literatur bis zur Zeit des hl. Augustinus, pp. 280 sqq., Feiburg 1903. On Infant Baptism, v. infra, Ch. IV, Sect. 2, pp. 268 sqq.]
This belief of the primitive Church was embodied, as it were, in the catechumenate, an institution which lasted well into the Middle Ages. "Catechumeni" [Footnote: Κατηχούμενοι, from κατηχεϊν, to instruct orally. On the catechumenate see T. B. Seannell, s. v. "Catechumen," in Vol. III of the Catholic Encyclopedia.] was a name applied to adults who were under instruction with a view to receiving Baptism. Until recently they were believed to have been divided into three classes, vis.: audientes (άκροώμενοι); genuflectentes (γόνυ κλίνοντες); and competentes (φωτιζόμενοι). This theory was based upon a misunderstood canon of a council of Neocæsarea (between 314 and 325). Other theologians thought that there were two classes, catechumeni and competentes or electi. But this distinction is equally untenable, because St. Cyril of Jerusalem and other Fathers number the competentes, or candidates for Baptism, among the faithful (fideles, πιστοί). To the late Professor Funk belongs the credit of having shown that the catechumens were all in one class. [Footnote: F. X. Funk, Kirchengeschichtliche Abhandlungen und Untersuchungen, Vol. I, pp. 209 sqq., Paderborn 1897.] But even though we now discard the three (or two) stages of preparation, this does not alter the fact that the ecclesiastical authorities were at great pains properly to instruct converts, so as to make them well-informed and loyal Catholics. The catechumens had to pass seven consecutive examinations (septem scrutinia) before they were admitted to Baptism. Besides, for a whole week after Baptism they wore white garments, which they put off on Low Sunday (Dominica in albis, scil. deponendis). Had not the Church been so firmly convinced of the importance and necessity of Baptism, she would certainly not have surrounded this Sacrament with so many imposing ceremonies nor spent so much time in labor in preparing candidates for its reception. The very existence of the catechumenate in the primitive Church proves that Baptism was always regarded as a matter of spiritual life and death. [Footnote: Cfr. J. Mayer, Geschichte des Katechumenates und der Katechese in den ersten sechs Jahrhunderten, Kempten 1868; P. Göbel, Geschichte der Katechese im Abendlande vom Verfalle des Katechumenates bis zum Ende des Mittclalters, Kempton 1880; T. B. Scannell in the Catholic Encyclopedia, l.c.]
c) It is a moot question among theologians at what time Baptism became a necessary means of salvation.
Even if it were true, as some older writers hold, that express belief in the Messias and the Trinity was a necessary condition of salvation already in the Old Testament, Baptism certainly was not, either as a means or in consequence of a positive precept. [Footnote: On the justification of adults and children under the Old Testament and among the pre-Christian Gentiles, v. supra, p. 19 sqq.] For those living under the New Law the necessity of Baptism, according to the Tridentine Council, [Footnote: Sess. VI, cap. 4: "...quæ quidem translatio [i. e. iustificatio] post Evangelium promulgatum sine lavacro regenerationis aut eius voto fieri non potest." (Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 796).] began with "the promulgation of the Gospel." When was the Gospel promulgated? Was it promulgated for all nations on the day of our Lord's ascension, or did its precepts go into effect only when they were actually preached to each? Were we to adopt the latter assumption, we should have to admit that the necessity of Baptism, and consequently the duty of receiving the Sacrament, was limited both with regard to time and place, e. g. that the law did not go into effect in Palestine until the Gospel had been sufficiently promulgated throughout that country, which required some thirty years or more. To be entirely consistent we should have to admit further that Baptism did not become necessary for salvation in the farther parts of the Roman Empire until about the close of the third century, in the Western hemisphere until the sixteenth century, in Central Africa or the Congo Free State until the beginning of the twentieth. This would practically mean that millions of pagans after the time of Christ were in precisely the same position as the entire human race before the atonement, and that their children could be saved by a mere "Sacrament of nature." [Footnote: V. supra, p. 18 sqq.] Though this way of reasoning appears quite legitimate in the light of the Tridentine declaration, it is open to serious theological objections. In the first place, we must not arbitrarily limit the validity of our Saviour's baptismal mandate. Secondly, we cannot assume that for more than a thousand years the children of pagan nations were better off in the matter of salvation than innumerable infants of Christian parentage, who were unable to avail themselves of the "Sacrament of nature." Third, the assumption under review practically renders illusory the necessity of Baptism through a period extending over many centuries. To obviate these difficulties we prefer the more probable opinion that the law making Baptism necessary for salvation was promulgated on Ascension day or, if you will, on Pentecost, simultaneously for the whole world, and at once became binding upon all nations. [Footnote: Cfr. Bellarmine, De Bapt., c. 5; Billuart, De Bapt., dissert. 1, art. 2, § 2. Hurter holds a different opinion (Compendium Theol. Dogmat., Vol. III, 12th ed., n. 317, Innsbruck 1909).]
Thesis II: In adults the place of Baptism by water can be supplied in case of urgent necessity by the so-called Baptism of desire.
This proposition may be qualified as "doctrina catholica."
Proof. The Baptism of desire (baptismus flaminis) differs from the Baptism of water (baptismus fluminis) in the same way in which spiritual differs from actual Communion. If the desire for Baptism is accompanied by perfect contrition, we have the so-called baptismus flaminis, which forthwith justifies the sinner, provided, of course, that the desire is a true votum sacramenti, i. e. that it implies a firm resolve to receive the Sacrament as soon as opportunity offers.
The Tridentine Council pronounces anathema against those who assert "that the Sacraments of the New Law are not necessary for salvation, but superfluous, and that without them, or without the desire thereof, men obtain God through faith alone the grace of justification." [Footnote: Sess. VII, De Sacram., 4: "Si quis dixerit, sacramenta Novæ Legis non esse ad salutem necessaria, sed superflua, et sine eis aut corum voto per solam fidem homines a Deo gratiam iustificationis adipisci, ... anathema sit." (Denzinger-Bannwart, n. 847).]
At a later date the Holy See formally condemned a proposition extracted from the writings of Bajus, which says that "Perfect and sincere charity can exist both in catechumens and in penitents without the remission of sins." [Footnote: Prop. 31: "Caritas perfecta et sincere ... tam in catechumenis quam in pœnitentibus potest esse sine remissione peccatorum." (Denzinger-Brannwart, n. 1031).] 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 [Footnote: Sess. VI, cap. 4. (Note 14, p. 242, supra).] explains that primal justification (from original sin) is impossible without the laver of regeneration or the desire thereof, and [Footnote: Sess. XIV, cap. 4. Cfr. the dogmatic treatise on the Sacrament of Penance.] that forgiveness of personal sin must not be expected from perfect charity without at least the desire of the Sacrament of Penance.
a) That perfect contrition effects immediate justification is apparent from the case of David, [Footnote: Cfr. Ps. 50.] that of Zachæus, [Footnote: Cfr. Luke XIX, 9.] and our Lord's own words to one of the robbers crucified with Him on Calvary: "This day thou shalt be with Me in paradise." [Footnote: Luke XXIII, 43.]
Thesis III: Martyrdom (baptismus sanguinis) can also supply the place of Baptism.
The Prophet Ezechiel assured the Old Testament Jews in the name of Jehovah: "If the wicked do penance for all his sins, ... he shall live, and shall not die." [Footnote: Ez. XVIII, 47: "Si autem impius egerit pœnitentiam ab omnibus peccatis suis, ... vitâ vivet et non morietur."] In the New Testament our Lord Himself says of the penitent Magdalen: "Many sins are forgiven her, because she hath loved much." [Footnote: Lue. VII, 47: "Remittuntur ei peccatis multa, quoniam dilexit multum."] Since, however, God has ordained Baptism as a necessary means of salvation, [Footnote: V. supra, Thesis I.] perfect contrition, in order to obtain forgiveness of sins, must include the desire of the Sacrament. Cfr. John XIV, 23: "If any one love Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and will make our abode with him." [Footnote: Other Scriptural texts in our treatise on the Sacrament of Penance.]
b) According to primitive Tradition, the Baptism of desire, when based on charity, effects justification, though not without some ideal relation to the Baptism of water.
The anonymous author of the treatise De Rebaptismate, which was composed about 256 against the practice championed by St. Cyprian, [Footnote: This treatise was perhaps written by Bishop Ursinius (cfr. Gennad., De Vir. Illustr., c. 27).] calls attention to the fact that the centurion Cornelius and his family were justified without the Sacrament, [Footnote: Acts X, 44 sqq.] and adds: "No doubt men can be baptized without water, in the Holy Ghost, as you observe that these were baptized, before they were baptized with water, ... since they received the grace of the New Covenant before the bath, which they reached later." [Footnote: "Atque hoc non erit dubium, in Spiritu Sancto homines posse sine aqua baptizari, sicut animadvertis baptizatos hos, priusquam aquâ baptizarentur, ... quandoquidem sine lavacro, quod postea adepti sunt, gratiam repromissionis acceperint." (Migne, P. L., III, 1889).]
The most striking Patristic pronouncement on the subject is found in St. Ambrose's sermon on the death of the Emperor Valentinian II, who had died as a catechumen. "I hear you express grief," he says, "because he [Valentinian] did not receive the Sacrament of Baptism. Tell me, what else is there in us except the will and petition? But he had long desired to be initiated before he came to Italy, and expressed his intention to be baptized by me as soon as possible, and it was for this reason, more than any other, that he hastened to me. Has he not, therefore, the grace which he desired? Has he not received that for which he asked? Surely, he received [it] because he asked [for it]." [Footnote: De Obitu Valent., n. 51 sq.: "Audio vos dolere quod non acceperit sacramenta baptismatis. Dicite mihi, quid aliud in nobis est nisi voluntas, nisi petitio? Atqui etiam dudum hoc voti habuit, ut et antequam in Italiam venisset initiaretur, et proxime baptizari se a me velle significavit, et ideo præ ceteris causis me accersendum putavit. Non habet ergo gratiam quam desideravit? Non habet quam poposcit? Certe quia poposcit, accepit."]
St. Augustine repeatedly speaks of the power inherent in the desire for Baptism. "I do not hesitate," he says in his treatise De Baptismo against the Donatists, "to place the Catholic catechumen, who is burning with the love of God, before the baptized heretic. ... The centurion Cornelius, before Baptism, was better that Simon [Magus], who had been baptized. For Cornelius, even before Baptism, was filled with the Holy Ghost, while Simon, after Baptism, was puffed up with an unclean spirit." [Footnote: De Bapt. c. Donat., IV, 21: "Nec ergo dubito, catechumenum catholicum divinâ carite flagrantem hæretico baptizato anteponere. ... Melior est enim centurio Cornelius nondum baptizatus Simone [Mago] baptozato; iste enim et ante baptismum S. Spiritu impletus est, ille et post baptismum immundo spiritu impletus est." Migne, P. L., XLIII, 171).] A seemingly contradictory passage occurs in the same author's Homilies on the Gospel of St. John. "No matter what progress a catechumen may make," it reads, "he still carries the burden of iniquity, which is not taken away until he has been baptized." [Footnote: Tract. in Ioa., 13, n. 7: "Quantumcunque catechumenus proficiat, adhuc sarcinam iniquitatis portat; non illâ dimittitur, nisi quum venerit ad baptismum."] The two Augustinian passages quoted can, however, be easily reconciled. The command to receive the Baptism of water exists also for the catechumens and ceases to be binding only when there is an impossibility. "I find," says the same author, "that not only martyrdom for the sake of Christ may supply what was wanting of Baptism, but also faith and conversion of heart, if recourse can not be had to the celebration of the mystery of Baptism for want of time." [Footnote: De Bapt. c. Donat., IV, 22: "Invenio, non tantum passionem pro Christo id quod ex baptismo decrat posse supplere, sed etiam fidem conversionemque cordis, si forte ad celebrandum mysterium in angustiis temporum succurri non popest."] St. Bernard invokes the authority of SS. Ambrose and Augustine in support of his teaching that a man may be saved by the Baptism of desire if death or some other insuperable obstacle prevents him from receiving the Baptism of water.Ep. 77 ad Hug. Vict., n. 8: "Ab his duabus columnis difficile avellor; cum his, inquam, aut errare aut sapere me fateor, credens et ipse solâ fide [i. e. formatâ] posse hominem salvari cum desiderio percipiendi sacramentum, si tanem pio implendi desiderio mors anticipans seu alia quæcumque vis invincibilis obviaverit." (Migne, Pair. Lat., CLXXXII, 1036).] The Popes decided many practical cases of conscience by this rule. Thus Innocent III unhesitatingly declared that a certain deceased priest, who had never been baptized, had undoubtedly obtained forgiveness of original sin and reached Heaven, and that the sacrifice of the Mass might be offered up for the repose of his soul. [Footnote: 3 Decret., tit. 13, c. 2: "Presbyterum quem sine unda baptismatis diem clausisse signicasti, quia in sanctæ matris ecclesiæ fide et Christi nominus confessione perseveraverit, ab originali peccato solutum et cœlestis patriæ gaudium esse adeptum asscrimus incunctanter."]
The question whether the votum baptismi accompanying perfect contrition must be explicit, is to be decided in the same way as the parallel problem whether pagans, in order to be justified, must have an express belief in the Trinity and the Incarnation, or whether an implicit belief in these mysteries is sufficient. [Footnote: On this question cfr. Pohle-Preuss, Grace, Actual and Habitual, pp. 182 sqq.] The more common opinion holds that the votum implicitum is all that is required. This "implicit desire" may be defined as "a state of mind in which a man would ardently long for Baptism if he knew that it was necessary for salvation." [Footnote: Oswald, die Lehre von den hl. Sakramenten der kath. Kirche, Vol. I, 5th ed., p. 211. Cfr. A. Seitz, Die Heilsnotwendigkeit der Kirche nach der altchristlichen Literatur bis zur Zeit des hl. Augustinus, pp. 290 sqq., Freiburg, 1903.]
Though the Church has never formally pronounced on the subject, the teaching of Scripture and Tradition is sufficiently clear to enable us to regard this thesis as "doctrina certa."
Proof. The Baptism of blood, or martyrdom, is the patient endurance of death, or of extreme violence apt to cause death, for the sake of Jesus Christ.
The theological concept of martyrdom (μάρτυς, a witness) includes three separate and distinct elements, vis.: (1) Violent death or extremely cruel treatment which would naturally cause death, irrespective of whether the victim actually dies or is saved by a miracle, as was St. John the Evangelist when he escaped unharmed from the cauldron of boiling oil into which he had been thrown order of Emperor Domitian. (2) The endurance of death or violence for the sake of Christ, i. e. for the Catholic faith or for the practice of any supernatural virtue. Hence the so-called "martyrs" of revolution or heresy are not martyrs in the theological sense of the term. (3) Patient suffering, endured voluntarily and without resistance. This excludes soldiers who fall in battle, even though they fight in defense of the faith. [Footnote: Cfr. Benedict XIV, De Serv. Dei Beatif., III, 11.]
Since martyrdom effects justification in infants as well as adults, its efficacy must be conceived after the manner of an opus operatum, and in adults presupposes a moral preparation or disposition, consisting mainly of faith accompanied by imperfect contrition. [Footnote: Cfr. Conc. Trid., Sess. XIV, cap. 7 (Denzinger-Brannwart, n. 897).] It does not, however, require perfect contrition, else there would be no essential distinction between Baptism of blood and Baptism of desire. [Footnote: V. supra, Thesis II.]
a) The supernatural efficacy of martyrdom may be deduced from our Lord's declaration in the Gospel of St. Matthew: "Every one that shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father Who is in Heaven," [Footnote: Matth. X, 32.] and: "He that findeth his life, shall lose it; and he that shall lose his life for Me, shall find it." [Footnote: Martth. X, 39. Cfr. Matth. XVI, 25; Luke IX, 24; XVII, 33.] If a man gives up his life for Jesus, he will surely be rewarded. "Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends." [Footnote: John XV, 13.] Consequently, martyrdom must be regarded as equivalent to Baptism for the unbaptized, and as a means of justification for the baptized.
b) The ancient Church explicitly interpreted Christ's teaching in this sense, as is evident from the honors she paid to the martyrs.
Tertullian says: "We have, indeed, likewise a second font, itself one [with the former], of blood to wit. … This is the Baptism which both stands in lieu of the fontal bathing when that has not been received, and restores it when lost." [Footnote: De Bapt., c. 16: "Est quidem nobis etiam secundum lavacrum, unum et ipsum, sanguinis scil. … Hic est baptismus, qui lavacrum et non acceptum repræsenlat et perditum reddit."] St. Cyprian declares that the catechumens who suffer martyrdom for Christ's sake, go to Heaven. "Let them know … that the catechumens are not deprived of Baptism, since they are baptized with the most glorious and supreme Baptism of blood." [Footnote: Ep. 73 ad Iubaian., n. 21, ed. Hartel, II, 735: "Sciant … catechumenos … non privari baptismi sacramento, utpote qui baptizentur gloriosissimo et maximo sanguinis baptismo."] St. Augustine expresses himself in a similar manner: "To all those who die confessing Christ, even though they have not received the laver of regeneration, [martyrdom] will prove as effective for the remission of sins as if they were washed in the baptismal font." [Footnote: De Civ. Dei, XIII, 7: "Quicumque etiam non receptor regenerationis lavacro pro Christi confessione moriuntur, tantum eis valet ad dimittenda peccata, quantum si abluerentur fonte baptismatis."]
The Greek Church held the same belief. St. Cyril of Jerusalem writes: "If a man does not receive Baptism, he hath not salvation, the martyrs alone excepted, who attain Heaven without water." [Footnote: Catech., 3, n. 10 (Migne, P. G., XXXIII, 439).] And St. Chrysostom: "As those baptized in water, so also those who suffer martyrdom, are washed clean, [the latter] in their own blood." [Footnote: Hom. In Martyr. Lucian., n. 2 (Migne, P. G., L, 522). Other apposite texts in Seitz, Die Heilsnotwendigkeit der Kirche, pp. 287 sqq.]
The primitive Church venerated in a special manner all those who suffered martyrdom for the faith, the unbaptized as well as the baptized. Among the earliest martyrs to whom public honors were paid, are St. Emerentiana, a foster-sister of St. Agnes, and the Holy Innocents, of whom St. Cyprian, following St. Irenæus, [Footnote: Adv. Hæres., III, 16, 4. On the veneration of the martyrs in the early Church cfr. Pohle-Preuss, Mariology, pp. 144 sqq., 150.] says that though they were too young to fight for Christ, they were old enough to gain the crown of martyrdom. [Footnote: Ep. 56 ad Thibarit.: "Ætas needum habilis ad pugnam idonea exstitit ad coronam."]
c) The Baptism of blood is more perfect than the Baptism of desire, and, in a certain sense, even excels Baptism by water.
α) It is more perfect than the Baptism of desire, both in essence and effect, because it justifies infants as well as adults quasi ex opere operato, whereas the Baptism of desire is efficacious ex opere operantis, and in adults only. Martyrdom, however, is not a Sacrament because it is no ecclesiastical rite and has not been instituted as an ordinary means of grace. It is superior to the Baptism of desire in this respect, that, like ordinarly Baptism, it not only forgives sins and sanctifies the sinner, but remits all temporal punishments. St. Augustine says: "It would be an affront to pray for a martyr; we should [rather] commend ourselves to his prayers." [Footnote: Serm., c. 1: "Iniuria esx pro martyre orare, cuius nos debemus orationibus commendari."] Hence the famous dictum of Pope Innocent III: "He who prays for a martyr insults him." [Footnote: "Iniuriam facit martyri, qui orat pro eo." Cap. "Cum Marthæ," De Celebr. Missæ.] St. Thomas teaches: "Suffering endured for Christ's sake ... cleanses [the soul] of all guilt, both venial and mortal, unless the will be found actually attached to sin." [Footnote: Summa Theol., 3a, qu. 87, art. 1, ad 2: "Passio pro Christo suscepta ... purgat ab omni culpa et veniali et mortali, nisi actualiter voluntatem peccato invenerit in hærentem."]
β) Martyrdom is inferior to Baptism in so far as it is not a Sacrament, and consequently neither imprints a character nor confers the right of receiving the other Sacraments. It excels Baptism in that it not only remits all sins, together with the temporal punishments due to them, but likewise confers the so-called aureole. [Footnote: See Eschatology. On the three-fold aureola (martyrum, virginum, doctorum) v. St. Thomas, Summa Theol., 3a, qu. 96.] It is superior to Baptism also in this that it more perfectly represents the passion and death of Christ. Cfr. Mark X, 38: "Can you drink of the chalice that I drink of, or be baptized with the baptism wherewith I am baptized?" - "Let him who is deemed worthy of martyrdom," say the Apostolic Constitutions, [Footnote: Probably composed in the beginning of the fourth century.] "rejoice in the Lord for obtaining such a great crown. … Though he be a catechumen, let him depart without sadness; for the suffering he endures for Christ will be to him more effective than Baptism." [Footnote: Const. Apost., V, 6: "Qui martyrio dignus est habitus, lætitiâ in Domino efferatur, quod tantum coronam nactus fuerit. ... Quamvis catechumenus sit, sine tristitia excedat: passio enim pro Christo perlata erit ei sincerior baptismus."] St. Bonaventure explains this as follows: "The reason why [martyrdom] has greater efficacy is that in the Baptism of blood there is an ampler and a fuller imitation and profession of the Passion of Christ than in the Baptism of water. ... In the Baptism of water death is signified; in the Baptism of blood it is incurred." [Footnote: Comment. In Sent., IV, dist. 4, p. 2, art. 1, qu. 2, ad 2: "Ratio autem quare efficaciam habet maiorem est, quoniam in baptismo sanguinis amplior et plenior est imitatio et professio passionis Christi quam in baptismo aquæ. ... In baptismo aquæ mors significatur, hic autem suscipitur." For a fuller treatment of this topic cfr. Gihr, Die hl. Sakramente der kath. Kirche, Vol. I, 2nd ed., pp. 271 sqq.]
This is the most lengthy and detailed discussion of this topic I can find in English by any theologian of any weight whatsoever. And yet, practically every sentence speaks volumes. His very first sentence sums up the whole of the supposed "self-contradiction" perfectly, "Baptism is necessary for salvation, but, under certain conditions, the place of Baptism by water may be supplied by Baptism of desire or by Baptism of blood." One should be able to see here many of the principal sources (even, often, in their original languages) upon which the Church has long known Herself to accept and teach the Catholic doctrines of BOB and BOD, and which has obviously been a significant help for me to find several of the more significant quotes that I have.
Finally, the last of the five English writing theologians, Ad. Tanquerey, in his work, A Manual of Dogmatic Theology, also indicates clearly his position on this topic. He writes, on pages 226-229:
1015 3. Second Thesis: Baptism of water is necessary for all by necessity of divine precept. This is de fide according to Trent, already quoted, and from the ordinary magisterium. The thesis is proved: from Christ's precept to baptize all nations; from the Code, canon 737; from the Ritual; from the obligation to enter the Church and to gain salvation.
1016 Corollary. Baptism is necessary also for infants. Hence infants can be baptized validly and licitly and should be. This is de fide contrary to the Waldenses and the Anabaptists, to whom the present day Baptists adhere. This corollary is evident from the following canon from the Council of Trent [Footnote: Session VII, can. 13, D. B., 869]: "If anyone says that children, because they have not the act of believing, are not to be numbered among the faithful after having received Baptism ..., let him be anathema".
Proof of Corollary from Christ's words: "Unless a man be reborn ..."; these words apply to all and consequently include infants. Wherefore at times the Apostles baptized an entire house [Footnote: Acts, XVI, 33; I Corinthians, I, 16.], that is, a family and so the children also.
Proof from the practice of the Church which St. Augustine bears witness to: "This the Church always possessed, always maintained, this the Church received from the belief of the majority, this she protects perseveringly unto the end". [Footnote: Sermon, 176, n. 2. Origen asserted that the practice of baptizing infants is apostolic (On Romans, V, 9, homily 6ª, P. G., 1047).]
Proof from Reason - Children have sinned in Adam and need to be reborn in Christ through Baptism. Also, it is proper that children be baptized in order that, imbued from childhood with grace and with infused virtues, they may inherently perceive and treasure the lessons of Christian life while they are growing up.
1017 We should not remark, with Erasmus, that the child's freedom is violated by this practice. For in Baptism no obligations are imposed except those which the child himself is bound to accept when he reaches the age of reason; instead, rights and priviledges of the greatest value are conferred. Thus he who is born in a certain land, by that fact acquires from his parents, who possess the rights of citizens, the rights and obligations of citizens without any violation of his freedom.
B The Means by Which Baptism of Water is Supplied
1° baptism of blood or martyrdom
1018 a. Concept. Martyrdom, properly called, is the suffering of death or of torture which of itself brings death, by reason of one's Catholic faith or of another Christian virtue; in the case of adults this suffering must be borne patiently. In order that martyrdom be able to justify adults, certain internal dispositions are required: supernatural attrition and at least an implicit desire for Baptism. Martyrdom remits fault and punishment, but it does not confer character; in consequence, should the lethally wounded victim survive, he should be baptized.
1019 b. Thesis: Martyrdom supplies the powers of Baptism as to the remission of sin and of punishment both for adults and for children.
Proof from Scripture: Christ unconditionally promised salvation to all who would confess him before men or who would lose their life for the sake of the Gospel: "He that shall lose his life for Me, shall find it". [Footnote: St. Matthew, X, 39.]
Proof from Tradition: The practice of the Church has always been to clothe with the honors of sainthood those who suffered martyrdom, the Innocents who were killed in the place of Christ, and other children who were slain for the faith; also those adults who, not yet baptized, accepted martyrdom (for example, St. Emerentiana): this fact cannot be explained unless martyrdom of itself sanctifies even children.
Proof from Reason: Baptism of water has the power to wipe away sins because it fashions us in the likeness of Christ's death. But through martyrdom both adults and children are more perfectly fashioned after the death of Christ.
1020 The Manner in Which Martyrdom Works.
Martyrdom produces its own effects, namely, the remission of sin and of punishment, even of temporal punishment, quasi ex opere operato. This is certain for children because they are incapable of every disposition, and cannot be justified ex opere operantis. This is commonly admitted for adults: the Church does not pray for martyrs; but if martyrdom operated only ex opere operantis, prayers would have to be offered for them.
2° baptism of desire or of perfect charity
1021 Thesis: Contrition or perfect charity, along with at least an implicit desire for Baptism, supplies for the forces of Baptism of water as to remission of sins. This is certain.
Explanation of terms of thesis: An implicit desire for Baptism is included in a general resolution to fulfill all the precepts of God. It is certainly sufficient in one who is invincibly ignorant of the law of Baptism; likewise, it very probably is sufficient in one who knows the need of Baptism.
Perfect charity, together with the desire for Baptism, indeed remits original sin and actual sins, and in like manner infuses sanctifying grace; but it does not imprint the baptismal character, nor of itself does it remit the entire temporal punishment due to sin. Wherefore the obligation remains to receive Baptism of water when the opportunity is given.
Proof of Thesis from Scripture. Even after the need of Baptism of water has been decreed, Christ unconditionally promised to grant sanctifying grace and therefore the remission of sins to all who would possess perfect charity: "He that loveth Me, shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him... If anyone love Me... we will come to him, and will make our abode with him": [Footnote: St. Matthew, X, 39.] now love of God, dwelling and abode of God, in this case, suppose sanctifying grace.
Proof of Thesis from Tradition. The Council of Trent [Footnote: Session VI, can. 4, D. B., 796.] has summarized this in these words: "Since the promulgation of the Gospel (the translation to the state of grace) cannot be effected without the laver of regeneration or a desire for this".
Proof of Thesis from Reason. From what has been said, Baptism of water is really necessary by necessity of means, but extrinsically only, according to the positive will of God. But what is necessary only extrinsically can be supplied through something else; it was altogether fitting that this would be supplied through charity or perfect contrition, which are the best dispositions.
Though a mere five of a larger "mere" 25 theologians may seem like such a small sample, what has to be a good indicator that they are indeed quite representative of the rest is the startling agreement as to the details of BOB and BOD. Surely, if these theologians were merely speculating on their own, each inventing their own attempt to reconcile the necessity of Baptism with the ability of BOB and BOD to serve as alternatives in certain circumstances, everyone would have had his own "take" on how the doctrines are to be understood, or what they mean, and a much larger sample would be needed to gain a reliable feeling for the possible range of these teachings.
And again, where are the supposed "dissenting theologians" who deny BOB and BOD outright, as it would seem there should have been at least some, over all the years of the Church? It is unfortunate that Solà's work (yet another of the 25 listed above) is only available in Latin, for as Fr. Cekada reports:
Theologians generally cite adversaries to a doctrine they are defending. In the case of baptism of desire and baptism of blood, the adversaries seem to be few and disreputable.
The following is from Solà's discussion of baptism of desire and baptism of blood:
"Adversaries: Certain heretics have affirmed that 'no adult can be saved without receiving baptism itself before he dies, however much he would burn with desire for it, and that it would do him no good unless he were washed with water.' Baius [in a proposition condemned by Pope St. Pius V] also taught that charity was not always joined to the remission of sins.
"Against the second part [baptism of blood] there are hardly any adversaries, save for a few theologians who disagree over the manner in which the martyrdom achieves its effect." (De Sacramentis, [BAC 1954], 69. His emphasis.)
The heretics who denied baptism of desire were opposed by the Doctor and Father of the Church, St. Bernard of Clairvaux (ob. 1153), whom Solà also quotes.
In short, the "heretics," as Solà called them, amounted to Peter Abélard and his followers, but also Baius ("Michael Du Bay" in the Treatise), both of which (and also St. Bernard's response to the first) have already been addressed here.
When Fr. Cekada posted his proof based on the 25 theologians listed above, one of his correspondents attempted to destroy the unanimity of these theologians by adding Fr. Feeney to the list as a "card-carrying theologian," which could not validly be done since "his earlier writings were popular religious works. And his later works would not meet the fourth criteria Salaverri lays down: 'orthodoxy in doctrine acknowledged by the Church, at least insofar as [his] writings are used by the faithful and students knowingly and without reproof by the Magisterium of the Church.' (de Ecclesia, 857.)" So in short, Fr. Feeney cannot be counted as a "theologian" to weigh against this unanimously held teaching.
The correspondent however also introduce one other figure, this one a true and canonized saint, as yet another "theologian" supposedly in support of his denial of BOB and BOD, namely St. Francis Xavier. Of him, Fr. Cekada merely states, "the term 'theologian' connotes extensive research work, a distinguished teaching career at a Pontifical University, publication of multi-volume theological treatises, etc. As far as I know, St. Francis Xavier would not meet these criteria. His writings, as I recall, were limited to letters." Of St. Francis Xavier however, more can and should be said, especially since his exploits are covered in some detail within the Treatise as supposed "evidence" that he would have doubted BOB and/or BOD, for how else would one explain his missionary zeal for souls unless he believed they would be damned if he did not reach them? (And yet, how many followers of Fr. Feeney have shown anywhere near a comparable zeal; how many of them have gone to India or China or Japan to convert and baptize tens of thousands as did St. Francis Xavier?) Francis A. Sullivan, S.J. writes of him in his book, Salvation Outside the Church?, page 85:
It would seem that this idea about Xavier's motivation for his missionary zeal is based on a misunderstanding of the answer which he gave to a question that had been put to him by his Christian converts in Yamaguchi, Japan. Xavier's biographer, George Schurhammer, reports this exchange on the basis of a letter which Xavier wrote after his departure from Japan.
His Christians had only one concern. They felt sorry for their deceased parents, wives, children, relatives and friends; and they asked the priest if those in hell could not be freed from it through prayers and alms, as the bonzes [Japanese Buddhist monks] universally taught, and if God could not free them, and why they had to remain there forever. Master Francis gave them a satisfying answer for everything, but as far as hell was concerned, he had to tell them that no one could be redeemed from it, grieved as he was when he saw his beloved Christians weeping for their dead. On the other hand, he hoped that the thought of the eternity of hell would be an incentive for them not to be negligent about their own salvation, and that they would thus escape the everlasting punishment of their ancestors.
It is understandable that this account has been interpreted to mean that Xavier was convinced that everyone who had died without Christian faith and baptism must be in hell. It would seem from this account that his converts believed that their ancestors were in hell, and we are not told that Xavier tried to console them by the thought that perhaps some of them had escaped that fate. However, the question put to Xavier was not whether there was any hope that their ancestors might not be in hell; the question was whether they could be freed from hell by the prayers which Christians would offer for them. This question was prompted by the teaching of the Buddhist monks that people could be freed from hell by prayers and almsgiving. To the question that was put to him, Xavier had to answer that there was no hope that anyone in hell could ever be delivered from it.
The possibility that some few of their ancestors might have escaped hell was not a "hope" to put in front of the Japanese Christians, since all too likely it would not apply to very many people at all. Far better to be pleasantly surprised to find some such ancestor in Heaven after all, despite their worst fears, than to be disappointed upon entry into Heaven as to how many they thought would be OK did not in fact attain it. Anyway, whatever ignorance could have excused in their ancestors it could not excuse any of them now, and the necessity laid before them now had to be made as clear as possible. But there is nothing in any of this to prove that he categorically believed that yea verily all of their ancestors were burning in hell for not being baptized in water, or even for not having been informed of the Christian faith.
So now that we have been fully introduced to the position taught by the Church and Her theologians, what exactly was the point made by Fr. Cekada on the basis of them? Fr. Cekada points out that "Behind the Feeneyite rejection of this doctrine lies a rejection of the principles that Pius IX laid down, principles that form the basis for the whole science of theology." In short, he points out that, among other things, "You must believe those teachings of the universal ordinary magisterium held by theologians to belong to the faith." As Pope Pius IX wrote:
"For even if it were a matter concerning that subjection which is to be manifested by an act of divine faith, nevertheless, it would not have to be limited to those matters which have been defined by express decrees of the ecumenical Councils, or of the Roman Pontiffs and of this See, but would have to be extended also to those matters which are handed down as divinely revealed by the ordinary teaching power of the whole Church spread throughout the world, and therefore, by universal and common consent are held by Catholic theologians to belong to faith." Tuas Libenter (1863), DZ 1683. (Doc C)
To summarize a few of the key points, it is a thesis that "The unanimous teaching of theologians in matters of faith and morals establishes certitude for the proof of a dogma." The principal proof of this thesis is based on the connection of theologians with the Church:
1. As men who study theological science, theologians have only a scientific and historical authority. But as servants, organs, and witness of the Church, they possess an authority that is both dogmatic and certain.
2. Church doctrine on matters of faith and morals possesses an authority that is dogmatic and certain.
A number of objections to this are responded to, such as the Protestant and Jansenistic claims that: Scholastic theology is ignorance of the truth and inane falsehood, scholastic theology is the Gospel obscured, the faith extinguished, and theologians obscured revealed doctrine. Such claims as those were condemned by Pope Pius VI when he wrote in Auctorem Fidei (1794) DZ 1501. (Doc D): "The proposition which asserts 'that in these later times there has been spread a general obscuring of the more important truths pertaining to religion, which are the basis of faith and of the moral teachings of Jesus Christ,' [is condemned as] heretical."
a. The unanimous teaching of theologians testifies and expresses the doctrine of the Church, because the Church accepts the common teaching of theologians as true and as her own when she either tacitly or expressly approves it.
b. Theologians as ministers and organs of the Church instruct the faithful in the doctrines of the faith. So, in fact those things preached, taught, held and believed are those same things the theologians propose and teach.
3. And so, because of the theologians' connection with the Church, their agreement on a doctrine has an authority that is both dogmatic and certain, because otherwise the authority of the Church herself would be endangered, because she admitted, fostered or approved the [false] doctrine of theologians.
The objection that "theologians have erred in the past" is responded to thus: "I let pass the accusation that scholastic theologians erred in certain questions of the faith. They did not, however, unanimously defend an error as a doctrine of the faith." Yes, a particular single theologian can make a mistake. On very far rarer occasions some one, or even a few others may follow him in his mistake. St. Bonaventure followed St. Thomas Aquinas into doubting the Immaculate Conception. Many of the African Fathers followed St. Cyprian in his denial of the validity of heretical baptisms. And a significant majority of theologians followed St. Augustine's mistake about suffering in hell on the part of unbaptized infants for several centuries, though not all, and few, if any, actually insisted upon it, and some other few had already opined against that. But you never have the whole body of theologians, recognized and fully qualified by the Church, all teaching and insisting upon as truth to be accepted something that is false. That, you categorically never, ever, have.
One other point I would add to that is that such unanimity is necessary not only among all living theologians, but also with all theologians of the past ages. This would prevent any new fashion of thought which is contrary to that held in former ages from gaining any unanimity since such new ideas would not have been held by the theologians of former ages. I might also point out that some early Fathers, though indisputably valid historical sources in their own right, would not qualify as such theologians, and as such, cannot always be expected to have always been as precise and nuanced in their statements as the fully qualified theologians. For that reason, certain few ancient Fathers who (for example) mention only the unbaptized martyrs (Baptism of Blood) as any exception to water Baptism (thus omitting Baptism of Desire) do not in any way compromise the unanimity of those of all ages who have affirmed Baptism of Desire (specifically) wherever the topic ever arose.
So what exactly is the response in Peter Dimond's Treatise to that profound and airtight case? It begins by simply stating (without attempting to defend) that "the obligation to the opinion of the theologians only arises from the fact that these matters were already taught as divinely revealed by the ordinary teaching power of the Church."
So, he would have us believe that the "opinion of the theologians" counts for nothing and adds nothing of any weight or clarification or definition to the "ordinary teaching power of the Church" which we (presumably) already have even without the benefit of the theologians. If that were the case, then what on earth are all the theologians for? And how would one reconcile that to the fact of the connection of theologians with the Church, such that they cannot unanimously teach error without the Church therefore having also taught error?
It next stresses the necessity for their teaching to be "universal and constant," which Fr. Cekada phrased as "common." However, there is no meaning change as "common" in that context does not mean "commonly found," like ants at a picnic, but "in common" as in held in common and agreed upon by all. The "common" position taken by the theologians is that which is "universal and constant" as held in common by all. It then asks (rhetorically), "Is baptism of desire something that has been held by universal and constant agreement?"
And what rhetorical response is given to that? Merely another copy of the same quote from Fr. Jurgens about a "constant tradition" of the ancient fathers against BOB and BOD (concealing the fact that this "constant tradition" pertains only to the case of infants who of course are incapable of having any "desire" to join the Church by water Baptism)! On the "strength" of that one false quote the Treatise gleefully declares, "As we can see, exactly the opposite of baptism of desire is what is taught in universal and constant agreement! It is the universal and constant teaching of Catholic Fathers and theologians since the beginning that absolutely no one can be saved without water baptism." What a joke!
It then goes on to declare that "The fact that baptism of desire did become a common and almost unanimous error among 20th century 'theologians' means nothing." But as has been shown, this supposed "common and almost unanimous error" of BOD (and, presumably, BOB) did not "become" so in the Twentieth Century; it was merely found to be so at that time, as indeed it was so in the Eighteenth Century, the Sixteenth Century, the Fourteenth Century, the Twelfth Century, the Sixth Century, the Fourth Century, the Third Century, and even back in the First Century on the pages of Holy Writ itself! Indeed, apart from the time of Peter Abélard and his immediate followers, and again, the time of Fr. Feeney and his immediate (and not-so-immediate) followers, the supposed "error" of BOD (and BOB) was fully unanimous.
The Treatise then goes on to say:
Catechism of the Council of Trent, Baptism made obligatory after Christ's Resurrection, p. 171: "Holy writers are unanimous in saying that after the Resurrection of our Lord, when He gave His Apostles the command to go and teach all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, the law of Baptism became obligatory on all who were to be saved."
And what exactly WAS that Law of Baptism? It is the Law that states: "To be saved one must be baptized in water, but if that be not possible one can be baptized in blood (martyrdom), or with the perfect charity of the Holy Spirit (desire)." So this shows nothing as any evidence against the unanimous support for BOB and BOD among the theologians of all eras, despite what the Treatise again gleefully declares as the summation of its case against the theologians of the Church:
Notice here that the Catechism of Trent is inculcating that the absolute necessity of water baptism for salvation is the unanimous teaching of theologians. But that is the very position which Fr. Cekada's article - in the name of the "common" consent of theologians - says is a mortal sin to hold! One can easily see from these facts that Fr. Cekada has erred in a major way and is actually completely wrong: the universal and constant teaching of theologians, as Fr. Jurgens and the Catechism of Trent say, is the very position he is condemning!
Is any further refutation on this point really necessary? By this point, it should be clear that there is nothing heretical about the 1908 Catholic Encyclopedia when it stated:
The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, "Church," 1908, G. H. Joyce: "The doctrine is summed up in the phrase, Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus (Outside the Church there is no salvation)… It certainly does not mean that none can be saved except those who are in visible communion with the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has ever taught that nothing else is needed to obtain justification than an act of perfect charity and of contrition... Many are kept from the Church by ignorance. Such may be the case of numbers among those who have been brought up in heresy... Thus, even in the case in which God saves men apart from the Church, He does so through the Church's actual graces… In the expression of theologians, they belong to the soul of the Church, though not to its body."
So let's look again at a few of the most famous papal "quotes" so often misused in support of their denials of BOB and BOD:
Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, Constitution 1, 1215, ex cathedra: "There is indeed one universal Church of the faithful, outside of which nobody at all is saved, in which Jesus Christ is both priest and sacrifice."
Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam, Nov. 18, 1302, ex cathedra: "Furthermore, we declare, say, define, and proclaim to every human creature that they by absolute necessity for salvation are entirely subject to the Roman Pontiff."
Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, "Cantate Domino," 1441, ex cathedra: "The Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that all those who are outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans but also Jews or heretics and schismatics, cannot share in eternal life and will go into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless they are joined to the Church before the end of their lives; that the unity of this ecclesiastical body is of such importance that only for those who abide in it do the Church's sacraments contribute to salvation and do fasts, almsgiving and other works of piety and practices of the Christian militia produce eternal rewards; and that nobody can be saved, no matter how much he has given away in alms and even if he has shed blood in the name of Christ, unless he has persevered in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church."
By this point, it has to be clear that Pope Innocent III puts "outside" the Church, where "nobody at all is saved" only those who are thus for their own fault, by choice, and clearly not referring to those "outside" through no fault of their own, nor those "on the way in, but not as yet fully in." Furthermore, were the phrase "Church of the faithful" meant to exclude the Catechumens, then by that abuse of language it would equally exclude the Religious and Clergy (hierarchical members of the Church, who are sometimes called "the Church" as distinct from "the Faithful," which latter consists of their attached laity). Obviously, "faithful" in this context refers not to those the Church technically calls "the Faithful" but to those who have faith. And by the way, is this not the same Pope who also declared that the Jew who, out of Christian conversion and sentiment, attempted an (invalid) self-baptism could nevertheless be saved? Obviously he saw no conflict between the two.
Looking at Pope Boniface VIII's declaration, are not catechumens, laboring to be baptized in due course, and anxious to remain in good standing so as to be permitted to receive Baptism, therefore already subjecting themselves to the Roman Pontiff, obeying him and the directions as given by his Church, exactly as do those who are baptized and also in good standing? Even the more distant souls upon whom (as God may judge) a salvific implicit Baptism of desire exists - are they not also obedient in all of what the Roman Pontiff commands as Providence has thrown their way? So again, there is nothing here to vitiate against BOB or BOD.
And again, Pope Eugene IV's declaration, clearly it is those who depart from the Church and not those who belong to the Church who cannot be saved, even should they give their life to all manner of alms and even give up their life for their mistaken concept of Christ (whatever it may be). Those who belong to the Church are saved by Her. And who belongs to the Church? He who gives himself to the Church. That interior decision will always bring one towards the baptismal font, and, circumstances permitting (the usual case), to water Baptism itself as well. That gift exists from the moment of one's interior choice for the Church (as adults capable of the use of reason), or the expression of that choice on one's behalf (where one has not attained the use of reason) by being baptized in water as an infant. It is that gift which the Pope has enjoined upon all to make, and to sustain once made.
And again, had any of these Popes meant to overturn the teaching of the ancient Fathers, the Doctors, the Councils, their predecessors, and all the Church's theologians regarding BOB and BOD with these statements, why is it that none of them could have thought to be more explicit on that point? The nightmare is over. In the warm light of day, with the lights at last coming on upstairs, the papal declarations that once seemed so heavy in denial of BOB and BOD, at last can be seen in their true and intended meaning, a meaning which does not include a ruling against the Catholic teachings of BOB and BOD.
Griff L. Ruby
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 seventh installment of this series, see Part 7
For the eighth installment of this series, see Part 8
For the ninth installment of this series, see Part 9
For the first part of the tenth installment, see Part 10a
For the second part of the tenth installment, see Part 10b
For the first part of the eleventh installment, see Part 11a
For the second part of the eleventh installment, see Part 11b
Griff's book is available from iUniverse.com Books for $26.95 or can be read on-line at www.the-pope.com 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.