+++ 83. Turning to the Catechisms +++

 

Well, that was a lot to devour concerning the saints & doctors of the Church.

 

But it was necessary since knowledgeable BODers get most of their cocksureness from them, especially from the scholastic theologians, and since WOers of a less knowledgeable disposition are pretty much oblivious to the enormous weight of opinion against WO from the same.

 

Now we turn our attention to catechisms. Catechism, as the word is used in latter times, is an organized set of instructions about the Roman Catholic Faith put in writing. A catechism may be huge & complex or simple & short, or somewhere in-between.

 

However, catechism during the years of persecution --- i.e., in the first three hundred years of Christianity --- was not written down. Leastwise, not as far as I can tell. The danger of these precious teachings falling into the hands of pagans and blasphemed as a result was too great. (Remember, most pagans back then at first had no idea what the Catholic Faith taught, unlike many non-Catholics today, who have at least a partial understanding of the Church’s doctrines. Hence, nowadays, it is pointless to try to hide these teachings from others like Catholics did in ancient centuries.)

 

And so Catholics were bound to strict secrecy about most doctrines during these oppressive times, never to reveal them to the unbelievers surrounding them. Priests who catechized (read: taught) new converts back then did so out of the strength of sheer memory and great sanctity. Once Emperor Constantine legalized the Catholic Religion of Jesus Christ, though, we begin finding Catholics composing texts of catechism in order to teach others, some of which are preserved to this day.

 

Why is this important?

 

Because, while learned BODers may cite many saints & theologians to back them up, most run-of-the-mill BOD enthusiasts believe in ‘baptism of desire’ because this is what they were taught to believe as a child or catechumen. That is to say, they read a catechism --- or were instructed from a catechism --- that told them BOD was real.

 

And, since most people purporting to be Catholic have mistaken ideas about infallibility, then they latch on to all kinds of errors when it comes to what is truly & supremely authoritative, and what is merely authoritative… but not supremely or infallibly so.

 

Such is the case during the last 100 years in the United States, and, from at least the time of the Vatican II pseudo-council of the 1960s which allowed the Great Apostasy of our days to erupt out into the open by publicly denying common & explicit dogma, such is the case with nearly everyone purporting to be Roman Catholic the world over at present.

 

To wit, their catechism said BOD is so. And their catechism is always the Church teaching authoritatively, suppose they. And the Church is infallible, many of them know. Therefore, the teaching of ‘baptism of desire’ must be authoritatively & infallibly true.

 

This is what they think. Is it really so?

 

Let us quickly review infallibility to remind us of what it actually means, dispensing once again with the mixed up ideas that people have as we go along. And then let us take a careful look at some catechisms used during Church history, particularly in the last few centuries, focusing on what they have to say about the role of water in the Sacrament of Baptism.

 

Shall we dive in?

 

+++ 84. Infallibility Quickly Reviewed +++

 

Here again is what the Roman Catholic Church infallibly taught about infallibility at the Vatican Council in Rome in 1870:

 

“We teach and define that it is a dogma divinely revealed [that] the Roman Pontiff [the Bishop of Rome, a Pope], when he speaks ex cathedra [from the chair, to wit, from the throne of St. Peter], that is, in discharge of the office of pastor and teacher of all Christians [when he teaches all Catholics everywhere]… he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church [he clarifies a teaching on faith or morals that should be believed by all Catholics], is… possessed of [he has]… infallibility [i.e., he cannot be mistaken]…” (Pius IX’s Pastor aeternus, as crafted by the Vatican Council during Session 4 in AD 1870, Chapter 4, Paragraph 9. Emphases & annotations added.)

 

What does it mean?

 

For a fuller treatment, go to Chapters 22 & 52 in this book, Baptismal Confusion. Stated quickly, though, here it is:

 

One, only a pope is infallible. No one else can be infallible for him. If the words are composed by someone else, then the pope must make those words his own --- as if they are literally coming from himself, a legitimate Bishop of Rome. Merely ‘signing off’ on a document from someone in the Vatican doesn’t cut it. A papal signature alone is not what makes it infallible.

 

Two, a pope can only be infallible about faith or morals. No other kind of teaching is guaranteed infallibility; consequently no other topic can be decided irreformably and thus permanently by the pope. Anything else can be changed by a later pope, if only theoretically, should wisdom dictate or should foolishness get the upper hand.

 

Three, the pope must be teaching the whole Church. If he’s only speaking or writing to one person, to a few, to a nation, or to a part of the Church in the world, without requiring his words on the teaching to be issued to the entire Church, then infallibility has not been invoked.

 

And, four, the pope must define and hence clarify the teaching. Usually this means words to the effect that he ‘defines’ or ‘declares’ or ‘pronounces’ or etc. It can also mean he condemns a teaching. If he does not make plain that he intends to clarify, then infallibility is not invoked.

 

Understanding this, it should be clear to a reader that catechisms are not, then, automatically infallible in and of themselves.

 

Why would this be?

 

Because no catechism has ever yet come directly from a pope, as if it was he himself, the pope, personally speaking to the Catholic Church as a whole in order to clarify our understanding of faith or morals.

 

We repeat:

 

No particular catechism --- in and of itself --- is infallible yet in what it teaches.

 

Which does not mean that a catechism cannot be infallible at all. For inasmuch as a catechism repeats what the Infallible Magisterium of the Church has declared, or represents such infallible teachings in its text accurately, then these repetitions or representations in the catechism are infallible. Nonetheless, this does not guarantee that every word or sentence in the catechism is thus without error. For a catechism to be totally infallible about faith & morals, either a pope would have to promulgate its text as if it came from him personally to the entire Catholic world, or else, possibly, a pope would have to make an official & explicit declaration to the whole Church that nothing in this particular catechism regarding faith or morals is in error.

 

(Incidentally, the first option is absolutely certain, i.e., it is without doubt a very real application of papal infallibility. The second option, however, is merely possible to hold as a theological opinionbut is not certainly and without doubt an application of papal infallibility. Hence, solely the first option would, at this point in time, be enough to put it beyond all logical dispute that any particular catechetical text is infallible in every single word concerning faith & morals.)

 

+++ 85. Proof No Catechism Yet Is Infallible, Part 1 +++

 

Anyone who assiduously studies the teachings of the Catholic Church invariably runs into The Catechism of the Council of Trent for Parish Priests, also known as The Roman Catechism and The Catechism of Pius V.  Putting the title a little more briefly, it is called The Catechism of the Council of Trent because this greatest of all general & infallible councils of the Church commanded that it should be composed, and The Catechism of Pius V because it was this pope who, a few years later, approved the text in Latin that everyone now follows. Likewise, it is The Roman Catechism because it is a pope who --- being bishop of Rome and thus ruling supremely over Catholics everywhere in the world --- makes the Catholic Church rightly entitled the Roman Catholic Church in order to distinguish Her from the people of any other religion that not only dare to go by the name of ‘christian’ but by the name of ‘catholic’, too, whilst spurning the supreme rule of a legitimate Roman bishop.

 

Now, we will further investigate this catechism in just a bit to see what it says about the Sacrament of Baptism. What I want to focus on right at this moment, though, is what the best known translation of The Catechism of the Council of Trent into English during the last century has to say in its introduction about this catechism’s authority to teach Roman Catholics about their Most Holy Religion.

 

That is to say, just how much authority does The Catechism of the Council of Trent have to tell us that something is true and must be believed or obeyed in order to be Catholic?

 

“The Roman Catechism is unlike any other summary of Christian doctrine, not only because it is intended for the use of priests in their preaching, but also because it enjoys a unique authority among manuals. In the first place, as already explained, it was issued by the express command of the Ecumenical [General] Council of Trent, which also ordered that it be translated into the vernacular [native language] of different nations to be used as a standard source for preaching. Moreover, it subsequently received the unqualified approval of many Sovereign Pontiffs [Popes]. Not to speak of Pius IV who did so much to bring the work to completion, and of St. Pius V under whom it was finished, published and repeatedly commended, Gregory XIII… so highly esteemed it that he desired even books of Canon Law to be written in accordance with its contents… Clement XIII said the Catechism contains a clear explanation of all that is necessary for salvationand that no other catechism can be compared with it. He concluded then, that the Roman Pontiffs [Popes] offered this work to pastors as a norm [common standard] of Catholic teaching and discipline so that there might be uniformity and harmony in the instructions of all [Catholics]. Nor have the Sovereign Pontiffs in our own days been less laudatory [full of praise] of the Catechism. Pope Leo XIII, in an Encylical Letter [official communication of the pope with all of his bishops throughout the world] of September 8, 1899… recommended two books which all seminarians [those men training to be priests] should possess and constantly read and study, namely, the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas [Aquinas] and ‘that golden book,’ the Catechismus ad Parochos [Latin for ‘Catechism for Parish Priests’, a shortcut title for The Catechism of the Council of Trent for Parish Priests, italic emphases of the titles of these books in the original publication]…

 

“In addition to Popes, and Councils, many Cardinals, Bishops and other ecclesiastics [other leaders & officials of the Church], distinguished for their learning and sanctity [holiness], vied with one another in eulogizing the Catechism of Trent [competed with each other in praising Trent’s Catechism]. Among other things they have said that not since the days of the Apostles has there been produced in a single volume so complete and practical a summary of Christian doctrine [teaching] as this Catechism, and that, after the Sacred Scriptures [Bible], there is no work that can be read with greater safety and profit.

 

“In particular, Cardinal Valerius, the friend of St. Charles Borromeo [Charles was the editor and overseer of The Catechism of the Council of Trent when it was written in Latin during the latter half of the 1500s], wrote of the Catechism: ‘This work contains all that is needful for the instruction of the faithful; and it is written with such order, clearness and majesty that through it we seem to hear holy Mother the Church herself, taught by the Holy Ghost, speaking to us… It was composed by order of the Fathers of Trent under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and was published by the authority of the Vicar of Christ.’

 

Salmanticenses [a name for a group of Carmelite monks who were renowned theologians], the great Carmelite commentators on St. Thomas, paid the following high tribute to the Catechism: ‘The authority of this Catechism has always been of the greatest in the Church, because it was composed by the command of the Council of Trent, because its authors were men of highest learning, and because it was approved only after the severest scrutiny [most careful examination] by Popes Pius V and Gregory XIII, and has been recommended in nearly all the Councils [local or regional councils, not general & infallible councils of the Church, of which there has been only one --- the Vatican Council from 1869 to 1870 --- since Trent] that have been held since the Council of Trent…’

 

“‘Its merits,’ says Dr. Donovan [an eminent theologian of the past 200 years], ‘have been recognized by the universal [catholic] Church. The first rank [reputation of being the best of all books, apart from Sacred Scripture] which has been awarded the Imitation [The Imitation of Christ, a famous book of wisdom during the last 500 years, italic emphasis of the book’s title in the original publication] among spiritual books, has been unanimously given to the Roman Catechism as a compendium of Catholic theology. It was the result of the aggregate labors of the most distinguished of the Fathers of Trent,…. and is therefore stamped with the impress [seal] of superior worth.’” (The Catechism of the Council of Trent, as translated into English from the Latin original by John A. McHugh, O.P., S.T.M., Litt.D., and Charles J. Callan, O.P., S.T.M., Litt.D., by 1922. Printed by TAN Books & Publishers, Inc., in 1982 in Rockford, IL, based on an earlier print by Marian Publications in 1976 in South Bend, IN, that in turn apparently first published the work in 1923 along with the imprimatur of Patrick J Hayes, Archbishop of New York City. Quoted from the Introduction to these various printings, from the very last section entitled “Authority and Excellence”, which is from pages xxxiii to xxxvi. All emphasis & annotations added except for where noted.)

 

+++ 86. Proof No Catechism Yet Is Infallible, Part 2 +++

 

My dear reader, I do not mean to weary you with the long quote above.

 

I am simply trying to let you see that Roman Catholic leaders & teachers for over the last 400 years have considered The Catechism of the Council of Trent to be the greatest of all catechisms ever produced from most ancient days until most recent times. Indeed, after the inerrant & divine text of Sacred Scripture, they think it the greatest of books ever written by the hands of mere men, in addition to St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica and Thomas a Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ. This is what the Dominican monks & translators into English of The Catechism of the Council of Trent drive home in spades via their introduction to the 1923 publication we just looked at!

 

Nevertheless, does this mean that this best of all catechisms yet written --- put together by the express command of an infallible council and published by the authoritative approval of an infallible pope --- is then in and of itself an infallible statement of faith & morals?

 

We read a bit more from the Dominican translators’ introduction for an answer:

 

“Doctor John Hagan [a highly respected theologian during the first half of the 20th century], the present Rector of the Irish College in Rome, writes thus: ‘The Roman Catechism is a work of exceptional authority. At the very least it has the same authority as a dogmatic Encyclical… it is an authoritative exposition of Catholic doctrine given forth, and guaranteed to be orthodox by the Catholic Church and her supreme head on earth. The compilation of it was the work of various individuals; but the result of their combined labors was accepted by the Church as a precious abridgement of dogmatic and moral theology. Official documents have occasionally been issued by Popes to explain certain points of Catholic teaching to individuals, or to local Christian communities; whereas the Roman Catechism comprises practically the whole body of Christian doctrine, and is addressed to the whole Church. Its teaching is not infallible; but it holds a place between approved catechisms and what is de fide [Latin for ‘of the faith’, i.e., infallible].’” (Ibid., page xxxvi. All emphases & annotations added except for italicized Latin phrase at the very end and italicized title of the Roman Catechism in Dr. Hagan’s quote.)

 

We highlight the key point from Dr. Hagan’s testimony again:

 

“Its teaching is not infallible; but it holds a place between approved catechisms and what is de fide [Latin for ‘of the faith’, i.e., infallible].’”(Ibid.)

 

And there you have it.

 

Despite the unequaled and enormous authority of The Catechism of the Council of Trent for the last 450 years, it is not an act of papal infallibility. Remember, too, that if for some reason we want to doubt Hagan’s learned theological opinion in this matter of the catechism’s massive yet still fallible authority, we have both the agreement of the Dominican monks who translated the catechism into English (or else why would they have gone out of the way to include Dr. Hagan’s comment in the introduction to their translation?) as well as the imprimatur of New York City’s archbishop at the time (and whatever his potential doctrinal failings, why would he let the catechism be undermined when Church leaders of his day still praised it unreservedly?).

 

We reiterate:

 

The Catechism of the Council of Trent --- in spite of its unparalleled authority and unique position amongst writings produced by the Roman Catholic Church --- is not an exercise of infallibility, and is thus not guaranteed to be absolutely infallible in everything that it teaches and says regarding faith & morals.

 

End of sentence.

 

+++ 87. Proof No Catechism Yet Is Infallible, Part 3 +++

 

Now… think very carefully, my dear soul.

 

The Catechism of the Council of Trent is the greatest of all catechisms ever made. It has unparalleled authority and an utterly unique eminence in the annals of the Church, as we found out in Chapter 85.

 

Notwithstanding, the Holy Catholic Church does not guarantee it to be infallible in absolutely everything it says regarding faith & morals, as we discovered in Chapter 86.

 

The Holy Roman Catholic Church does, however, guarantee The Catechism of the Council of Trent to be doctrinally reliable.

 

We can have solid moral (as opposed to infallible!) certainty of that.

 

Meaning, we don’t have to worry about it misleading any intelligent & learned person into confusion or heresy when it comes to the common dogmas of the Church (dogmas that are absolutely necessary for anyone of adequate mind to know & believe in order to be Catholic to begin with and thus save his soul, and which can be found, when a person rightly understands them, in the Apostle’s Creed, the Ten Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer). What’s more, it probably has few, if any, errors regarding deeper dogmas of the Church (dogmas that a Catholic person would be wise to know, but that, if literally impossible for someone to know properly, will not keep him out of the Church or damn a man’s soul) or undefined teachings that have spread widely through the membership of the Church (teachings not yet guaranteed by the Church’s Infallible Authority, but that are generally believed to be true by most Catholics).

 

All the same --- and we repeat --- The Catechism of the Council of Trent is not infallible.

 

But if this is true of the greatest catechism ever yet produced, could any lesser catechism ever attain to that which the greatest catechism has never yet achieved?

 

To wit, infallibility?

 

It’s simple logic, dear soul…

 

If the greatest catechism thus far is not infallible, then how can a lesser catechism be infallible?

 

This fact is crucial because it means that neither BOD (‘baptism of desire’) enthusiasts nor WO (‘water only’) adherents can point to any catechism as ultimate ‘proof’ of their stance. For instance, if a particular catechism teaches BOD or BOS (‘baptism of spirit’, what Catholics of the early to middle 2nd millennium called BOD), then this cannot make it ‘infallibly’ true just because the catechism says it’s true.

 

And why is this again?

 

Because not a single catechism yet has ever been an act of papal infallibility.

 

Therefore, we can neither pretend, based on a catechism, that BOD or WO is a common dogma of the Church from the beginning with Jesus & His Apostles, nor pretend, based on a catechism, that BOD or WO is a deeper dogma of the Church from some point in time after the beginning due to a pope, or a pope with his council, solemnly & explicitly ruling in the matter.

 

Moreover, if another catechism teaches us water baptism but doesn’t happen to mention BOD at all, then this, too, cannot make WO ‘infallibly’ certain just because the catechism talks about water without mentioning BOD. We reiterate to drive the point home clearly --- we cannot be reasonable and at the same time pretend that a catechism contradicts BOD just because it doesn’t mention BOD:

 

The one thing does not automatically, logically or justly follow from the other.

 

Or, to put it another way, simply because there is an absence of mention of BOD when talking about water baptism does not then mean that that the writer intended there to be a presence of contradiction against BOD in what he said.

 

Because, logically speaking, an utter & complete absence of mention is not the same as a real & actual presence of contradiction in the words that a man says.

 

No, all we can say is that the first instance (a catechism teaches BOD) is evidence for BOD while the second example (a catechism only teaches water baptism but doesn’t mention BOD) is lack of such evidence on behalf of BOD --- and not necessarily that it is thus some sort of unquestionable evidence against BOD and for WO!

 

+++ 88. Proof No Catechism Yet Is Infallible: +++

The Dénouement and a Very Stern Warning to Readers

 

We cannot stress this enough, my precious soul. The matter may seem picayune or somewhat trivial from a hazy perspective, but the repercussions are potentially dire when you get this topic wrong in the fight between BOD & WO.

 

We say it again:

 

The repercussions of getting this matter of BOD vs. WO wrong are as deadly as a train heading down the wrong track in the wrong direction.

 

That is to say, if you don’t accept this warning against being ‘infallibly certain’ about BOD or WO --- and unjustifiably so, since the Church has never yet clearly & explicitly ruled in the matter --- then you are in a perilous spiritual condition.

 

Carry it too far, or contemptuously dismiss my words despite their factualness and intelligence, and you could wind up in hell forever as a stubborn schismatic against other members of Jesus’ One & Only Catholic Church… and all because they don’t agree with you about BOD or WO, a conflict that has never yet been clarified explicitly with an act of the Church’s Infallibility.

 

At the very least, dear reader --- and if lacking enough in ability of mind that you are inescapably ignorant in the matter to some degree --- you could still suffer a long & terrible torment in purgatory for being cruelly uncharitable toward your brother in Christ’s Catholic Body.

 

Why?

 

Because you mangle and destroy the Catholic Body of Christ.

 

How can this be?

 

The consequences are so dire because the need for charitable unity between the parts of a body is utterly crucial for any body, which, by definition, is a body and a whole since all of its parts are arranged to work harmoniously for the purpose of the whole and the survival of each of its parts.

 

Yet how does this apply to someone who professes the Catholic Faith?

 

The Catholic Body of Christ is no different.

 

It is a body with parts and it is hence just as crucial, and even more so, that we as members remain in charitable unity with all of His other members in this Sacred Body for the heavenly purpose of His Whole Body and the eternal survival of each of His individual members within this Ecclesial Body.

 

Period.

 

(This kind of schismatic behavior, by the way, is a consequence of Catholic fundamentalism. Catholic fundamentalism is a scourge of confusion upon the world during our apostate times as a result of both wickedness and ignorance in those who say they are Catholics and purport to be ‘traditional’, but who are either not Catholic or, if Catholic, are arrogant & impatient and tend toward schism & division against other Catholics. You may find out more about Catholic fundamentalists --- ‘CFs’, for short --- at this link, my dear reader.)

 

+++ 89. The Catechism of St. Cyril of Jerusalem +++

 

Which brings us to the first catechism under consideration in regard to the Sacrament of Baptism. To wit, the Catechism of St. Cyril of Jerusalem.

 

Not quite a catechism in our more recent and narrower sense of the word --- for the different sections of Cyril’s catechism are really just lectures he delivered in sequence up to and just after the celebrated day of Easter around the middle of the AD 300s --- it nevertheless goes thoroughly through most of the subjects that one would expect to find in a catechism written later during the second millennium. Indeed, we have already quoted from one of Cyril’s catechetical lectures back in Chapter 24 where we found proof that catechumens (those who study the Church’s teachings in order to join Her in water baptism) could still, in ancient times after the celebration of Easter Sunday, be called ‘catechumens’ since they were still learning about the Catholic Faith… and even though they had already been baptized very early on Easter morning!

 

The point, of course, was that in the earliest centuries prior to Christianity’s legalization in the Roman Empire --- and when most persons outside the Catholic Church had no real idea of what a true Christian (read: Roman Catholic) believed, religiously speaking --- the most holy, deep & profound dogmas of the Catholic Church were kept secret. This was so that unbaptized souls outside the Church wouldn’t know & profane them, and so that newly baptized souls in the Church could better grasp & appreciate them due to the graces they received from the Holy Ghost dwelling within them after baptism in water.

 

In any case, the teaching of ancient catechumens was not finished until after Easter and hence after water baptism, who could still be called ‘catechumens’ despite being baptized in water since they were still learning about the common teachings of the Catholic Faith.

 

Incidentally, Cyril of Jerusalem was a priest in the diocese of Jerusalem (hence this city being a part of his name) who lived from AD 315 to about AD 386, and who was assigned to the training of catechumens. He later became bishop of this diocese. He was heroically virtuous and at least a few of his writings are with us to the present day, being a source of inestimable wisdom and valuable history. As a result, he is not only a successor to the apostles in the Hierarchy of the Church, but a saint & doctor, too. His words therefore carry immense weight.

 

What did he have to say about the Sacrament of Baptism in his catechetical lectures?

 

“If any man receive not Baptism [if someone doesn’t get baptized in water], he has not salvation [then he cannot enter into Heaven]; except only Martyrs [the only exception to water baptism being those who are martyred for Jesus’ Catholic Faith], who even without the water [of baptism] receive the kingdom [enter Heaven]. For when the Saviour, in redeeming the world by His Cross, was pierced in the side [by the spear of the Roman soldier], He shed forth blood and water; [so] that men, living in times of peace, might be baptized in water [so that, during times of peace without persecution, anyone may be baptized in water], and, in times of persecution, in their own blood [whereas when persecution strikes, anyone can be a martyr and enter Heaven even without the water of baptism].” (Cyril of Jerusalem’s Catechetical Lectures, Lecture 3, Paragraph 10. All emphasis & annotations added.)

 

+++ 90. Yet Again BOD Wasn’t Touted in Ancient Times, +++

and the Need for Water Baptism Upheld Much More Strictly

 

We begin to see a pattern here --- don’t we? --- and repeated proof of what I have asserted.

 

Namely, that many Catholics during the first millennium may have believed in BOB (‘baptism of blood’) but nevertheless very blatantly spoke about baptism of water as if it is surely the only way to enter Heaven… the sole exception being the aforementioned BOB.

 

This is because the idea of BOS (‘baptism of spirit’) or BOD (‘baptism of desire’) --- as we understand it now during the last millennium --- simply did not exist prior to the turn of the 5th century. And, regardless of the idea of BOS or BOD existing after St. Augustine of Hippo first explicitly taught the notion in AD 400, most Catholic leaders & thinkers either did not know about it or did not care to teach it until the tenth or eleventh centuries, when this theological opinion began to gain critical mass in the minds of the learned in the Catholic Church.

 

Meanwhile, the urgent need for water baptism that Catholic leaders spoke of during the first millennium is in vivid contrast to the way most putative Catholic leaders have spoken about the Sacrament of Baptism during the last one hundred years. To wit, bishops and priests of the past century have talked as if baptism in water is not very important, the lack of water being easily supplied by a mere ‘desire’ for it; indeed, as if most catechumens are already in the state of justification and on the way to eternal salvation even before getting the sacramental water of baptism due to their (presumably) sincere resolution to receive it.

 

Yet does this jive with how Catholic leaders of the first millennium talked about baptism?

 

 No, it does not.

 

The evidence that it does not?

 

Easy.

 

Look at the quote again from St. Cyril of Jerusalem during the fourth century just above in Chapter 88. How does he speak? As if there is no way to enter Heaven without water baptism… the only exception being ‘baptism of blood’!

 

And how does St. Fulgentius of Ruspe speak near the turn of the sixth century back in Chapter 72? As if there is no way to enter the Kingdom of God and salvation forever without the water of baptism… the only exception being ‘baptism of blood’!

 

Or how does St. Ambrose of Milan speak during the fourth century in Chapter 36, prior to the funeral oration for Valentinian that everyone likes to quote as if it certainly upholds BOD? As if there is no way at all to enter eternal salvation without the cleansing waters of baptism… neither BOB nor BOD being mentioned explicitly as exceptions!

 

Or how does St. Augustine of Hippo speak during the fifth century, as we saw back in Chapter 40, after his one single favorable reference to BOD in AD 400? As if there is no way to enter the glory of Heaven without baptism in water… the only exception being ‘baptism of blood’, and neither BOB nor BOD mentioned explicitly as exceptions near the very end of his life!

 

Or how does St. Peter the First Pope act during the first century in Chapter 30 toward the jailors he converted suddenly to Catholicism in the midst of his martyrdom and for whom he provided miraculous water? As if there is no way at all to enter the reward of God’s Presence without sacramental water… neither BOB nor BOD being mentioned explicitly as exceptions!

 

Or how does St. Martin of Tours act during the fourth century in Chapter 31 toward the poor dead catechumen who he raised back to life by his prayers? As if there is no way at all to enter the rest of everlasting salvation without baptism in water… neither BOB nor BOD being mentioned explicitly as exceptions!

 

And, well, you get the picture.

 

Of all the Catholics whose words we can still read, or whose lives we can still read about, no one is claimed to explicitly uphold BOD during the first millennium apart from St. Augustine (once, early on), St. Ambrose (possibly, but it’s doubtful) and St. Cyprian (in a way, sort of).

 

Period.

 

Meanwhile, baptism of water is trumpeted by these first millennium Catholics again and again as the sole means of salvation, the only exception that they ever mentioned (sometimes, but not always!) being ‘baptism of blood’.

 

End of sentence.

 

+++ 91. The Catechism of the Council of Trent +++

 

We now jump over a thousand years to the end of the AD 1500s.

 

We have already established that BOD or BOS was not a common or accepted theological opinion during the very first millennium. We’ve also seen that BOB (‘baptism of blood’) was an acceptable --- and fairly common, though not universal --- theological opinion amongst some of the learned by the AD 300s, while BOD didn’t become accepted or common till after the turn of the second millennium. And the two different things, whilst related, are not precisely the same. Thus, we can expect to find support for BOB from the first millennium, as proven above by the quote from St. Cyril’s catechism. Whereas this same ancient period of time produces absolutely no support at all for BOD apart from Ss. Augustine (once), Ambrose (doubtful) and Cyprian (kind of). This is especially plain when you see how even clever BOD proponents can come up with no other ‘explicit’ evidence for BOD during the 1st millennium than the aforementioned Augustine, Ambrose & Cyprian, their so-called ‘evidence’ from that 1st millennium consisting almost exclusively of quotes for BOB… and not for BOD.

 

Yet what about nearer to our times? What about in the last five hundred years?

 

That’s why we jump twelve centuries to look at the Catechism of the Council of Trent.

 

What does this greatest of all catechisms (although not infallible in every word!) ever made by the Catholic Church have to say about the Sacrament of Baptism and its necessity?

 

After spending two paragraphs exhorting priests that new adult converts are to be “admonished not to defer [delay] the Sacrament of Baptism beyond the time prescribed by the Church [which was usually up to a year or so of catechism for the typical person]…”, the highly educated and very eminent theological writers of the Tridentine Catechism then go on to note:

 

“On adults, however, the Church has not been accustomed to confer [it has not been the practice of the Church to give or administer] the Sacrament of Baptism at once [right away, before they receive adequate training], but [the Church] has ordained [commanded] that it be deferred [delayed] for a certain [amount of] time. The delay [in getting water baptism] is not attended with [does not involve] the same danger as in the case of infants [babies or very young children], which we have already mentioned [the first three subsections of the section on the necessity of baptism were about babies and how they should get baptized in water as soon as possible without any needless delay]; should any unforeseen [unavoidable] accident make it impossible for adults to be washed in the salutary waters [cleansed from sin in the saving waters of baptism] their intention and determination to receive Baptism and their repentance for past sins, will avail [help] them to [get] grace and righteousness.” (The Catechism of the Council of Trent. Quoted from the chapter on ‘The Sacrament of Baptism’, from the section on the ‘Necessity of Baptism’, and from the subsections entitled ‘They Should Not Delay Their Baptism Unduly’ and ‘Ordinarily They Are Not Baptized at Once’, page 179. All emphasis & annotations added in this quotation and all further quotations from The Catechism of the Council of Trent as found later in this book, Baptismal Confusion.)

 

+++ 92. WO Tomfoolery, Act 1 +++

 

My dear reader, if you are not familiar with these things --- and if you are not a WO enthusiast who is also a Catholic fundamentalist (CF) --- then you would not believe the pretzels that WO-believing CFs twist their minds into in order to explain away this evidence for BOD within the Catechism of the Council of Trent.

 

That is to say, the most stubborn or blind of WOers see this quote, from the most authoritative catechism that the Church has ever yet produced, and then twist their otherwise intelligent minds into absurdities of thinking, either purposefully or carelessly neglecting to examine all of the evidence for both sides of the BOD vs. WO equation when it comes to the Roman Catechism.

 

“Oh, the catechism is not saying that catechumens who are adults can depend on BOD to save them if they die accidentally before getting water baptism!” they exclaim. “It’s just saying that good-willed catechumens will get the graces and holiness that comes along with water baptism, somehow, if something happens to threaten them with not being able to get water baptism. In other words --- come what may --- they’ll get water baptism no matter what.”

 

Really? Is this really all that the Roman Catechism is saying?

 

One wonders if they’ve actually studied the words carefully and put it into context with what comes in the text of the Catechism of the Council of Trent right before the quote above, where the Catechism stresses that water baptism must not be delayed for little babies.

 

If they have, then there’s a simple yet puzzling problem for WO-touting CFs to solve:

 

Why can’t the Catechism state it as plainly as WO-believing CFs can say it?

 

+++ 93. WO Tomfoolery, Act 2 +++

 

But facts are facts and logic is logic.

 

And the facts are that the Catechism of the Council of Trent plainly tells Catholics not to delay unduly the baptism of infants in water since small children have no other recourse for entering Heaven except for the waters of baptism.

 

“The faithful are earnestly to be exhorted to take care [to be careful] that their children be brought to the church, as soon as it can be done with safety, to receive solemn Baptism. Since infant children have no other means of salvation except Baptism, we may easily understand how grievously those persons sin who permit them [allow small children] to remain without the grace of the Sacrament [of Baptism] longer than necessity may require, particularly at an age so tender [so young] as to be exposed to numberless dangers of death [particularly when very young children can die so much more easily than adults].” (The Catechism of the Council of Trent. Quoted from the chapter on ‘The Sacrament of Baptism’, section on ‘Necessity of Baptism’, subsection ‘Baptism of Infants Should Not Be Delayed’, page 178.)

 

Whereas, in stark contrast to this and just a page later, the same Catechism of the Council of Trent plainly tells Catholics not to worry unduly about the baptism of adults in water since adults are not in the same grave danger of losing Heaven without the waters of baptism.

 

“On adults, however, the Church has not been accustomed to confer [it has not been the practice of the Church to give or administer] the Sacrament of Baptism at once [right away, before they receive adequate training], but [the Church] has ordained [commanded] that it be deferred [delayed] for a certain [amount of] time. The delay [in getting water baptism] is not attended with [does not involve] the same danger as in the case of infants [babies or very young children], which we have already mentioned; should any unforeseen [unavoidable] accident make it impossible for adults to be washed in the salutary waters [cleansed from sin in the saving waters of baptism] their intention and determination to receive Baptism and their repentance for past sins, will avail [help] them to [get] grace and righteousness.” (Ibid. Quoted from the chapter on ‘The Sacrament of Baptism’, section on ‘Necessity of Baptism’, subsection ‘Ordinarily They Are Not Baptized at Once’, page 179.)

 

+++ 94. WO Tomfoolery, Act 3 +++

 

Dear soul, if your mind is adequate & humble, then please do not dare to deny the obvious. Because logic is logic, and plain hard logic operating on the facts from the quotes above requires us to admit the obvious.

 

Accordingly, that the authors of the Catechism of the Council of Trent --- and with the solemn approval of a pope, who gave permission for this Catechism to be published for priests worldwide a few years later after the Council of Trent --- would never bother telling us how important it is to baptize little children right away while also saying (in stark contrast, a mere one page later) that it’s not nearly as dangerous for adults to delay baptism in water… unless they plainly thought something like ‘baptism of desire’ to be another option for adults to enter the Kingdom of Heaven without having received the waters of baptism!

 

It ought to be plain that they --- and thus the Fathers who oversaw the Council and the popes who approved both it and the text of the Catechism --- believed in something like BOD.

 

But if it’s still shocking or puzzling because you’re a ‘water only’ adherent and tend to be fundamentalist in your espousal of Catholicity, then review what we have already established in Chapters 12, 13 & 42. That is to say, about St. Thomas Aquinas blatantly teaching BOD and the Fathers of the Council of Trent admiring Aquinas so much that they laid a copy of his greatest work, the Summa Theologica, on the altar at their sessions, together with a copy of Sacred Scripture and the decrees of the popes, in order to follow the teachings of these sources.

 

Knowing this, who can intelligently imagine that the Tridentine Fathers suddenly and rather mysteriously opposed the teaching of ‘baptism of desire’ despite their mammoth admiration for Aquinas… and all without mentioning BOD or BOS explicitly by name even once in their infallible words during the most wonderful of all Catholic councils yet?

 

Do you get it?

 

It doesn’t add up.

 

+++ 95. WO Tomfoolery, Act 4 +++

 

Which brings us to the final WO argument of any significance from the testimony of the Catechism of the Council of Trent on the Sacrament of Baptism. For one of the most clever of them tries to convince us that the Roman Catechism is badly translated. He argues that this Catechism was not meant to uphold BOD in its words on Baptism since the text there has been ‘mistranslated’ into English, so he says, when it comes to a single key word in the original Latin.

 

And what is that single key word?

 

First the full passage in Latin:

 

Sed quamvis haec ita sint, non consuevit tamen Ecclesia Baptismi Sacramentum huic hominum generi statim tribuere, sed ad certum tempus differendum esse constituit; neque enim ea dilation periculum, quod quidem pueris imminere supra dictum est, conjunctum habet cum illis, qui rationis usu praediti sunt, Baptismi suscipiendi propositum atque consilium, et male actae vitae poenitentia satis future sit ad gratiam et justitiam, si repentinus aliquis casus impediat, quo minus salutary aqua ablui possint.” (Catechismus Romanus ad parochos, ex Ss. Concilii Tridentini decreto Pii V Pontif. Maximi Jussu Editus [this is Latin for ‘Roman Catechism for Priests’, etc.], as published by Caesaraugustae in 1830 in Europe. Section on Baptism, Paragraph 36, Page 137. Original book used to cite from is at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid in Spain. An online copy of the page quoted from is at the Hathi Trust website; specifically, at http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=ucm.532425983x;seq=173;view=1up;num=137 as of 22 February 2013. Emphasis added.)

 

This passage is the same as the one we already cited in English back in Chapter 92:

 

“On adults, however, the Church has not been accustomed to confer [it has not been the practice of the Church to give or administer] the Sacrament of Baptism at once [right away, before they receive adequate training], but [the Church] has ordained [commanded] that it be deferred [delayed] for a certain [amount of] time. The delay [in getting water baptism] is not attended with [does not involve] the same danger as in the case of infants [babies or very young children], which we have already mentioned; should any unforeseen [unavoidable] accident make it impossible for adults to be washed in the salutary waters [cleansed from sin in the saving waters of baptism] their intention and determination to receive Baptism and their repentance for past sins, will avail [help] them to [get] grace and righteousness.” (The Catechism of the Council of Trent. Quoted from the chapter on ‘The Sacrament of Baptism’, section on ‘Necessity of Baptism’, subsection ‘Ordinarily They Are Not Baptized at Once’, page 179.)

 

+++ 96. WO Tomfoolery, Act 5 +++

 

Now, did you notice the boldfaced word “impediat” in the first quote above in Latin?

 

To wit:

 

“…et male actae vitae poenitentia satis future sit ad gratiam et justitiam, si repentinus aliquis casus impediat, quo minus salutary aqua ablui possint.” (Catechismus Romanus ad parochos. Section on Baptism, Paragraph 36, Page 137. Emphases added.)

 

This word, “impediat,” is from the Latin verb, ‘impedire’, conjugated into the third-person singular present subjunctive form with the active voice. And ‘impedire’, as several scholarly textbooks in Latin tell us, means “…to bring low, prostrate…” as well as “…to prevent, to impede…” and “…impede, hinder, prevent…” (First citation found in Latin Grammar by Scanlon & Scanlon, A.M., as originally published by B. Herder Book Co. in 1944 at St. Louis, Missouri. Later republished by TAN Books & Publishers in 1976 & 1982 in Rockford, Illinois. Quote found on p.255. Second citation found in Second Latin by Scanlon & Scanlon, A.M., as originally published by B. Herder Book Co. in 1948 at St. Louis, Missouri. Later republished by TAN Books & Publishers in 1976 in Rockford, Illinois. Quote found on p.249. Third citation found in Latin: An Introductory Course Based on Ancient Authors by Frederic M. Wheelock, published by Barnes & Noble Books in 1956 at New York City as well as various other major global cities, the third edition being printed in 1963. Quote found on p. 422.)

 

We say again --- “impediat”, which is conjugated from its infinitive form of ‘impedire’, means “…to bring low, prostrate…” as well as “…to prevent, to impede…” and “…impede, hinder, prevent…” (Ibid., pp. 255, 249 & 422. All emphasis added.)

 

Why is it important to know this?

 

Because the WO-touting CF (Catholic fundamentalist) mentioned at the beginning of Chapter 95 likes to say “impediat” is mistranslated as “impossible” in English (also in boldface in one of the quotes above), whereas it is only right to translate it --- says he --- as the word ‘impediment’.

 

His point?

 

That The Catechism of the Council of Trent is not saying that anything could make it wholly “impossible” for a man to receive water baptism, rather, that it’s just saying that if something is an ‘impediment’ to water baptism… well, then, God will make sure that you get water baptism no matter what. The ‘impediment’ will never be able to stop you completely!

 

Yet is this a reasonable contention?

 

Certainly not.

 

+++ 97. WO Tomfoolery, Act 6 +++

 

Read Chapter 93 again if you haven’t gotten it. The makers of the Catechism purposefully juxtaposition the absolute necessity of babies to receive water baptism since they “have no other means of salvation except Baptism” against the lesser, but still important, preceptive necessity of adults to receive water baptism because their “delay [in getting water baptism] is not attended with [does not involve] the same danger as in the case of infants [babies or very young children], which we have already mentioned…” (The Catechism of the Council of Trent, pp. 178 & 179.)

 

This, indeed, is why the Catechism makes such a contrast between babies and adults, and refers back to these babies when justifying the delay in getting water baptism that is usually practiced with adult catechumens as they take time to be trained properly in the Roman Catholic Faith. And if this is not the reason why, then, logically speaking, a WO-believing CF has no rational way to explain why the Catechism makes this contrast and refers back to these babies when justifying a delay in baptism for adults!

 

Because, from the WO-touting CF’s point of view, both babies and adults absolutely must get water baptism in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven since there is no other way for either of them to save their souls… and he thinks that the Council of Trent infallibly and ‘explicitly’ ruled out the possibility of BOD for anyone. But if so, then why in the world would the Catechism of the Council of Trent talk like there’s a difference between babies and adults when it comes to the necessity of water baptism, contrasting the two as they do to make it look like babies have no other option whereas adults can delay water baptism without seriously endangering their immortal souls?

 

Do you comprehend?

 

+++ 98. WO Tomfoolery, Act 7 +++

 

It simply doesn’t add up. The WO explanation for the Catechism’s words here about the Sacrament of Baptism makes no sense at all.

 

Yet where does this WO-touting CF’s mistake lie?

 

He grasps at straws.

 

The Latin “impediatcan’t mean “impossible”, he insists. It can only mean ‘to hinder’ or ‘to be an obstacle’ and thus an ‘impediment’… but not to the point of impossibility. Consequently, thinks he, his argument is won. The Catechism of the Council of Trent couldn’t possibly be contradicting the Council it came out of, which, he supposes, ‘explicitly upheld’ the absolute necessity of water baptism.

 

End of story. Or is it?

 

The honest & sensible reader knows where this is headed.

 

Given that “impediat” means “…to bring low, prostrate…” as well as “…to prevent, to impede…” and “…impede, hinder, prevent…”, then how is it an ironclad conclusion that the word “impossible” is a mistranslation? Latin’s ‘impedire’ (from which “impediat” is conjugated) derives from the Latin ‘pedis’ for ‘foot’ and implies the entangling of the feet such that a person is brought low and laid prostrate on the ground. In such a terrible & awkward position, cannot someone, realistically speaking, be prevented, impeded and hindered from accomplishing an important task… even to the point of it becoming humanly impossible to get it done?

 

Of course it is.

 

And the realization that the Council of Trent did not explicitly & infallibly uphold WO after all (see Chapters 11 to 15 again in this book, my dear reader, if you’re still hazy or stubborn about this point), coupled with the knowledge that the Catechism of the Council of Trent was contrasting the absolute necessity of water baptism for babies (a necessity that leaves no room for exceptions since babies don’t have adequate minds yet with which they can ‘resolve’ or ‘desire’ to get water baptism) with a preceptive necessity for adults (a necessity that is crucial but can allow for exceptions where it is an ‘impossibility’ to obey) makes this fact about the Catechism a moral certainty.

 

Story really ended.

 

+++ 99. The Nail in the Coffin… +++

 

But the nail in the coffin for this irrational contention of a WO-believing CF is this:

 

It doesn’t matter one single bit whether you translate the Latin word “impediat” as “impossible” (as the early 20th century English rendering of the Roman Catechism does, from which we quoted) or, rather, if you translate it as ‘impediment’ (as this particular WO-touting CF wants to do). The overall meaning of the passage is still obvious and unchanged, regardless of it being rendered as either “impossible” or ‘impediment’!

 

The proof?

 

Easy… just try it out and see. Here again is the prefacing passage about the absolute necessity of water baptism for babies:

 

“Since infant children have no other means of salvation except Baptism, we may easily understand how grievously those persons sin who permit them [allow small children] to remain without the grace of the Sacrament [of Baptism] longer than necessity may require, particularly at an age so tender [so young] as to be exposed to numberless dangers of death [particularly when very young children can die so much more easily than adults].” (The Catechism of the Council of Trent. Quoted from the chapter on ‘The Sacrament of Baptism’, section on ‘Necessity of Baptism’, subsection ‘Baptism of Infants Should Not Be Delayed’, page 178.)

 

Next, a page later, the passage about the lesser danger in delaying water baptism for adults:

 

“On adults, however, the… delay [in getting water baptism] is not attended with [does not involve] the same danger as in the case of infants [babies or very young children], which we have already mentioned; should any unforeseen [unavoidable] accident make it impossible for adults to be washed in the salutary waters [cleansed from sin in the saving waters of baptism] their intention and determination to receive Baptism and their repentance for past sins, will avail [help] them to [get] grace and righteousness.” (Ibid. Quoted from the chapter on ‘The Sacrament of Baptism’, section on ‘Necessity of Baptism’, subsection ‘Ordinarily They Are Not Baptized at Once’, page 179.)

 

Now the exact same passage as just above with ‘impediment’ used in place of “impossible”:

 

“On adults, however, the… delay [in getting water baptism] is not attended with [does not involve] the same danger as in the case of infants [babies or very young children], which we have already mentioned; should any unforeseen [unavoidable] accident make an impediment against adults being able to be washed in the salutary waters [cleansed from sin in the saving waters of baptism] their intention and determination to receive Baptism and their repentance for past sins, will avail [help] them to [get] grace and righteousness.” (Ibid., the word “impossible” switched for ‘impediment’ and grammatically tweaked to make it fit.)

 

+++ 100. …And That Coffin Nailed Firmly Shut +++

 

Is it beginning to be starkly obvious, my dear reader?

 

The WO-believing CF’s argument about “impossible” vs. ‘impediment’ is facetious. The overall meaning of the passages is the same, regardless of which word you use. For as the Catechism says in Latin in the passage we have been examining:

 

“…Baptismi suscipiendi propositum atque consilium…” (Catechismus Romanus ad parochos. Section on Baptism, paragraph 36, page 137. Emphasis added both in this quote and the very next quote, too.)

 

Which in English means:

 

“…their intention and determination to receive Baptism…” (Ibid., page 179.)

 

And what is an “intention” or “determination” if not a vow, resolution or desire?

 

In other words, that vow, resolution or desire to receive water baptism --- that “intention and determination” --- “will avail [help] them to [get]” the “grace and righteousness” of water baptism even without the sacramental water. Which is why the Church, then --- asserts these writers & editors of the Catechism --- is content to hold off on administering water baptism to adult catechumens since the “…delay [in getting water baptism] is not attended with [does not involve] the same danger as in the case of infants [babies or very young children]…” (Ibid.)

 

Meanwhile, these “…infant children have no other means of salvation except Baptism…” Consequently, “…we may easily understand how grievously those persons sin who permit them [allow small children] to remain without the grace of the Sacrament [of Baptism] longer than necessity may require…” (Ibid., page 178.)

 

Yet why is it different for little children as opposed to grown up adults?

 

Because baby children are not like grown up adults. They do not have full-fledged minds like you and I do. They are not capable of fully understanding the teachings of the Catholic Church, and hence have no ability to hold an “intention and determination to receive Baptism…”!

 

Therefore, BOD is not an option for them due to a lack of mind & understanding.

 

Ergo, from a BODer’s perspective, water baptism is a baby child’s only option.

 

End of sentence.

 

+++ 101. Proof Trent & Its Catechism Never Axed BOD +++

 

Now, I have hammered the WO side pretty hard here for the last few chapters. And for a good reason, too. Because most of them are either ignorant or stubborn, or both, when it comes to this hard evidence for BOD in the Catechism of the Council of Trent right after the conclusion of the Tridentine Council itself.

 

And if I am going to prevent them from being schismatics, dividing up from their fellow Catholics as if they are ‘heretics’ because they believe in BOD for catechumens or because these fellow Catholics believe it’s okay thus far for a Catholic to believe in BOD for catechumens (and even if they themselves do not personally believe in BOD), then I have to drive it home hard how it is a moral certainty that the Roman Catechism --- which is the greatest catechism that the Church has ever yet produced, albeit not infallible --- upheld the notion of BOD (or BOS as it was known back then) for catechumens.

 

The fact that the Catechism does not mention BOD (or rather, BOS) explicitly by name is immaterial in this particular case. This is because the Roman Catechism is not an act of infallibility, and thus the rules for interpreting it are not so strict (whereas, for infallible statements, one has to make completely and utterly sure that the words mean what you think they mean since you cannot afford to be wrong when claiming that the meaning itself is infallibly known!), and because, within a single page, the Catechism makes a vivid contrast between the very critical need for water baptism for baby children as soon as possible and the relative lack of danger for adult catechumens in delaying water baptism while they are catechized.

 

Ergo, it is a moral (although not infallible) certainty that this Catechism is upholding BOD.

 

Nonetheless, should this morally certain fact be fought over regardless of the solid evidence on its behalf, we turn our attention briefly to a very famous and saintly prelate of the Church who lived in the generation immediately following the Tridentine Council.

 

+++ 102. St. Robert Bellarmine +++

 

Viz., St. Robert Bellarmine.

 

Born the day of 4 October 1542 in Italy at Montepulciano and passing from this life on 17 September 1621, St. Robert as a youth lived while the Council of Trent was in session. (Trent took place from 1545 to 1563.) Hence, his formative years were, in a very real sense, shaped by its infallible teachings. What’s more, Robert’s family was closely entwined with the Hierarchy of the Church during Trent, his mother being the sister of Cardinal Marcello Cervini, who later was elected as Pope Marcellus II in 1555.

 

And, if that were not enough, Robert entered the Jesuits in 1560, taking his vows before his eighteenth birthday. The Jesuits, of course, were intimately connected to the papacy --- having just been formed and approved as a new religious order --- taking their orders directly from the pope and both teaching & defending the Catholic Faith with an enormous knowledge and arguments that were totally devastating to, and much feared by, their opponents.

 

Finally, Robert was a confidante of supreme pontiffs, being a personal theologian to Popes Clement VIII (1592 to 1605) and Paul V (1605 to 1621). Finally canonized as a saint in 1930, Bellarmine was declared a doctor of the Holy Roman Church the very next year, 1931, and made the patron of those who are catechists. His theological positions thus hold immense weight amongst learned Catholics.

 

So what did this wonderful saint & doctor of the Roman Catholic Church have to say about the subject of ‘baptism of desire’, in the decades just after the Tridentine Council --- i.e., the Council of Trent --- had issued its canons & decrees concerning the Sacrament of Baptism, justification and so forth?

 

“Concerning catechumens [St. Robert here means, of course, catechumens in the typical sense, who haven’t yet been baptized in water] there is a greater difficulty, because they are faithful [i.e., they are seeking & learning the Catholic Faith] and can be saved if they die in this state [without water baptism], and yet outside the Church no one is saved, [just] as [no one was saved] outside the ark of Noah… [St. Robert then poses a couple of possible solutions to this difficulty of how someone could be saved without water baptism --- and thus visibly outside the Catholic Church --- whilst seeking the Catholic Faith as a catechumen. However, he rejects both of them and proceeds to give what he thinks is the correct solution.] …I answer therefore that, when it is said ‘outside the Church no one is saved’, it must be understood of those [to mean those people] who belong to her [the Catholic Church] neither in actual fact nor in desire, as theologians commonly speak on [about] baptism. Because the catechumens are in the Church, though not in actual fact, yet at least in resolution, therefore they can be saved.” (On the Church Militant, Book 3, Chapter 2, by St. Robert Bellarmine. Published by an unknown printer in Naples, Italy, in 1872 as an ‘opera omnia’ [containing all of his written works]. Quoted from an English translation of St. Robert Bellarmine’s original Latin text in the book, Is Feeneyism Catholic?, Page 76, by Fr. Francois Laisney, which can be found in a PDF file form online at http://www.sspx.org/books/Is_Feeneyism_Catholic.pdf as of 13 August 2012. All emphasis & annotations added in this and the next two quotes.)

 

+++ 103. Driving Bellarmine’s Words Home +++

 

Dear reader, if you’ve been paying attention and are not so wedded to the notion of ‘water only’ that you can’t stand seeing hard evidence against it, then you know very well that Bellarmine was not upholding the WO position. Because he says about catechumens, those who are not normally baptized in water yet:

 

“…when it is said ‘outside the Church no one is saved’, it must be understood of those [to mean those people] who belong to her [the Catholic Church] neither in actual fact nor in desireBecause the catechumens are in the Church, though not in actual fact, yet at least in resolution, therefore they can be saved.” (Ibid.)

 

We emphasize again:

 

“Because the catechumens are in the Church, though not in actual fact, yet at least in resolution, therefore they can be saved.” (Ibid.)

 

Incidentally, where Bellarmine says “…nor in desire…”, the word “desire” translates the Latin term ‘desiderio’, which is the more typical Latin term to be rendered as “desire” in English (as opposed to the far less common rendering of ‘voto’ as “desire”). And where he says “resolution”, this word translates the Latin term ‘voto’, which is usually a much more correct and common rendering of ‘voto’.

 

(See Chapter 6, my dear soul, for a reminder of the rather slipshod translation of ‘voto’ as the English word ‘desire’ in recent times when it comes to BOD.)

 

In other words, St. Robert Bellarmine is telling us that catechumens, who are usually not baptized in water --- although we found out in Chapter 24 how catechumens can, for a short while, be rightly called catechumens just after their reception of water baptism while in ancient times they got a bit of final training after Easter Sunday --- can be thought of as in the Church through their “desire” and “resolution” to be joined to Her via the Sacrament of Baptism. And even though, “in actual fact,” they are “not” visibly connected to Her without water baptism!

 

What is this if not ‘baptism of desire’, what earlier Catholics called ‘baptism of spirit’?

 

The truth is plain.

 

St. Robert Bellarmine, distinguished doctor of the Catholic Church, taught and believed in ‘baptism of desire’  just years after the Council of Trent and thus several years after WO-touting Catholic fundamentalists (CFs) want to think ‘water only’ had been ‘explicitly’ defined by the Tridentine Fathers and hence, say they, too, ‘baptism of desire’ infallibly ruled out.

 

Yet how could this be when St. Robert upheld the gist of BOD in one of his most famous works in the decades right after the Council of Trent?

 

How could he have been the personal theologian of two post-Trent popes and publicly espoused BOD if BOD had been both explicitly & infallibly condemned by Trent?

 

How could he have been made a cardinal of the Church and have doggedly argued against Protestant heresy, eventually winning the titles of saint, doctor & patron of catechists --- all of this happening after Trent --- if, in fact, BOD was ‘ruled out’ by the most fabulous of all councils to date while he taught what Trent had supposedly ‘condemned’?

 

Unless a WO-believing CF is going to claim that pretty much every single pope, bishop, priest, doctor, theologian, monk, and etc., was a formal heretic after the Council of Trent on the matter of water baptism --- and that the Great Apostasy has consequently been out in the open at full tilt for the last four hundred and fifty years --- then the conclusion is stark:

 

The Fathers of Trent neither directly addressed nor explicitly & infallibly ruled out BOD.

 

+++ 104. St. Alphonsus Liguori Redux +++

 

But if a WOer is still not convinced, still trying to explain away the evidence for ‘baptism of desire’ from the Roman Catechism and from St. Robert Bellarmine himself in one of his most famous writings after Trent is supposed to have ‘ruled out’ the idea of BOD --- say the ‘water only’ proponents who tend toward Catholic fundamentalism --- then we return to a man that we examined carefully in Chapters 49 to 60 of this book, Baptismal Confusion.

 

Namely, Alphonsus Liguori, who upheld ‘baptism of desire’ in his theological masterpiece just a little over a century after Bellarmine’s death.

 

Now St. Alphonsus lived from 1696 to 1787. And he, like Robert Bellarmine, is both a canonized saint and a universal doctor of the Holy Catholic Church. Hence, while not infallible in his theological opinions, these opinions of his nevertheless carry a lot of weight because of the high honor and respect that the Church pays him.

 

What’s more, he not only very plainly upheld BOD in his Moral Theology masterwork but cited the Council of Trent as ‘proof’ of his opinion, mistakenly thinking it ‘explicitly’ defined at this marvelous Council!

 

(You’ll remember, dear reader, how we dealt with this mistaken opinion in Chapter 59. There we showed that it’s not just some anonymous & unlearned layperson claiming that neither Trent nor any other magisterial declaration has ever made BOD for catechumens de fide, that is, explicitly and certainly an infallible teaching of the Church. To the contrary, a famous & respected --- and imprimatured --- German theologian of the 20th century, Dr. Ludwig Ott, tells us in his classic textbook, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, that ‘baptism of desire’ is merely proximate to the Faith. To wit, that BOD is a teaching which every theologian of Dr. Ott’s time, c.1952, thought was true --- even citing Trent as evidence for this belief --- but which the Church has never as of yet seen fit to declare with solemn authority is de fide, and thus explicitly & infallibly true.)

 

And what did Alphonsus say, exactly, about BOD?

 

Baptism of desire is perfect conversion to God which, through contrition or love of God above all things along with the explicit or implicit desire of true Baptism of water; it supplies its power, according to Trent, with regard to the remission of the fault [of sin], but not the impression of the character [of water baptism, baptism being a special mark upon the body & soul and identifying us as joined to the Body of Christ and thus real & visible members of His One & Only Catholic Church], nor with regard to the complete taking away of the punishment due [to] sin --- thus teach [Alphonsus here mentions by name several Church theologians who teach BOD] Viva, the Salmanticenses, along with Suarez, Vasquez, Valentia; Croix and others [Alphonsus then gives the citations for these references]… It is de fide [a Latin phrase meaning that it is an infallible teaching of the Roman Catholic Faith] that men can be saved through baptism of desire… according to Trent [Session 6, On Justification, Chapter 4], where it is said that no man can be saved ‘without the laver of regeneration or its desire.’” (St. Alphonsus Liguori’s Moral Theology, Book 6, Treatise 2, Chapter 1, Number 96. All emphases & annotations added.)

 

+++ 105. Driving Alphonsus’ Words Home +++

 

This is where it starts getting ridiculous for a man to deny that Church leaders, saints and doctors believed in or taught BOD after Trent, my dear reader.

 

For not only have we the examples of the Catechism of the Council of Trent, St. Robert Bellarmine and St. Alphonsus Liguori to tell us otherwise --- that pretty much every Church leader, saint and doctor after Trent believed in BOD for catechumens and that many, if not most, of them presumed Trent to have ‘explicitly’ upheld BOD for catechumens, too --- but Alphonsus even gives us a short list of various theologians since around the time of Trent (which took place during the 1500s) up until his own time (during the middle of the 1700s) who back him up!

 

Accordingly:

 

Baptism of desire is perfect conversion to God which, through contrition or love of God above all things along with the explicit or implicit desire of true Baptism of water… thus teach [Alphonsus here mentions by name several Church theologians who teach BOD] Viva, the Salmanticenses, along with Suarez, Vasquez, Valentia; Croix and others [Alphonsus then gives the citations for these references]…” (Ibid.)

 

The boldfaced-highlighted clause in the quote above is a list of names of those theologians who taught the notion of ‘baptism of desire’ for catechumens during the centuries surrounding the Council of Trent, St. Alphonsus citing them as evidence for BOD in order to back up his own agreement with this theological opinion.

 

The outcome is therefore clear for an honest and intelligent Catholic man --- most, if not all, learned Catholics thought Trent had upheld BOD for catechumens, if only in a proximate way, and the Catechism of the Council of Trent was only reflecting this theological opinion right after the end of that most famous of councils in the middle of the 16th century.

 

Period.

 

There is no sense trying to argue otherwise since the historical evidence is overwhelming. WO-touting CFs who argue otherwise, regardless, are either ignorant of the facts (which are most of them, to be blunt) or else stubborn in spite of the facts (most of the rest of them, unfortunately).

 

Whichever the case, it is pride that binds them in this predicament.

 

For if ignorant, they are too proud to admit that they don’t know everything and could be wrong (and hence that it’s worth their while to examine the evidence proffered by a book such as this). But if stubborn, then they are too proud to admit that they can see this evidence and that it clearly proves them wrong (and hence that they ought to humbly admit their mistake, taking full responsibility for it like any decent Catholic person would do in the eyes of others).

 

Oh, and incidentally, if still bothered --- or bothered for the first time --- by St. Alphonsus’ mention of “…the explicit or implicit desire of true Baptism of water…”, then see Chapters 55 to 58 in this book, Baptismal Confusion. You will find a full and orthodox explanation for what he was saying, Alphonsus most very certainly not being a modernist or a salvation heretic.

 

+ + +

 

Part One of Baptismal Confusion (Chapters 1-32)

 

Part Two of Baptismal Confusion (Chapters 33-60)

 

Part Three of Baptismal Confusion (Chapters 61-82)

 

Part Five of Baptismal Confusion (Chapters 106-132)

 

Part Six of Baptismal Confusion (Chapters 133-169)

 

Part Seven of Baptismal Confusion (Chapters 170-186)

 

+ + +

 

Pilate’s query met:

www.TheEpistemologicWorks.com

 

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