+++ 106. Fr. Laurence Vaux’s English Catechism of 1583 +++
We now turn to the very next
catechism in our survey. First published just one year later than the Catechism
of the Council of Trent was first published (1567, although the version quoted from
here was published in 1583), Fr. Laurence Vaux composed his catechism for the
sake of those English and French persons who considered themselves Roman
Catholic, some of whom were shockingly ignorant about the Faith. He especially
wrote it for the English who were, at this moment, grievously oppressed by the
lies of the Protestant Rebellion in
Fr. Vaux intended his
catechism to be short and easily read, although by our contemporary standards
it is lengthy and difficult. (Which shows us, by the way, how stupid we are to
think that our era is so much more ‘sophisticated’,
‘logical’ and ‘intelligent’ than people were back
then.) The point is, though, that --- unlike the Roman Catechism that came out
So what did he have to say about the Sacrament of Baptism?
“Baptism is the most
necessary Sacrament of the New Testament [the time after Jesus’
resurrection from the dead and ascension into Heaven], instituted of [by]
Christ, specially to wash away original sin [the first sin committed by Ss.
Adam & Eve and into which all people are conceived as their descendants,
except for Jesus & Mary], and all other sin done before Baptism [all sins
actually committed by a particular individual himself prior to water baptism]. By Baptism we be [are] regenerated [brought
back to life] and born again of water and the Holy Ghost, and made Children of
God by adoption and [becoming] heirs [inheritors] of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Without Baptism, either in act or in will, none [no one] can be saved...
In two things especially [Baptism consists], the matter and form [the thing
used for the Sacrament of Baptism and how it’s said or done]. The matter
is water, a simple element. No Baptism can be in [done with] wine, rose water,
or any confect [kind of] liquor. The form is the words of Baptism, which are:
‘Ego te baptiso in
nomine Patris, et Filii, et
Spiritus Sancti’ [these are the Latin words for
water baptism], or, ‘I christen thee [baptize you], in the name of the
Father, and the Son, and the holy Ghost [these are the
same words in English]. Amen.’” (A Catechism or Christian Doctrine by Laurence Vaux, B.D., printed
for the Chetham Society in
+++ 107. What Fr. Vaux’s Catechism Tells Us +++
The import of Fr. Vaux’s teaching?
First, that water baptism is the “most necessary” of all the sacraments. Indeed, that without it “none [no one] can be saved.” (Ibid.)
Again, this is a far cry from the way of speaking about the Sacrament of Baptism that all Catholics for the last century and a half have been subject to, where --- even if the laver of regeneration (i.e., baptism) is admitted to be ‘necessary’ --- this necessity has been constantly and unrelentingly undermined by frequent qualifications or explanations that make it clear how very unnecessary the baptismal water actually is. In other words, contrary to the great necessity spoken of above by Fr. Vaux, people who call themselves ‘catholic’ today teach that practically anyone can be saved without baptism in water... or even any real intent to be Catholic.
Whereas Fr. Vaux’s language is rather absolute.
For who does he say can be saved without the Sacrament of Baptism?
“…none [no one]…” (Ibid.)
And, again, why would this be?
Because the Sacrament of Baptism is the “most necessary” of all the sacraments.
For by it, says he, a man is “regenerated [brought back to life]”, meaning that he was dead & lifeless to begin with. (Ibid.) And just as a man cannot exist on earth apart from physical birth the first time, exiting alive through the water of his mother’s womb --- there being no God-given exceptions to this physical rule for earthly birth --- so, too, a man cannot exist in Heaven apart from spiritual birth the second time, exiting alive through the water of his Church Mother’s womb, there being yet no indubitable exceptions to this spiritual rule for heavenly birth.
Ah, but there’s an additional thing to consider here, isn’t there?
For this is the era of scholastic theology, and Fr. Vaux was undoubtedly well-trained in the teaching and thinking of St. Thomas Aquinas. Ergo, what if a catechumen dies ‘accidentally’ without the water of this baptism? What then? This is why he states:
“Without baptism, either in act or in will, none [no one] can be saved.” (Ibid.)
We say again:
“…either in act or in will…” (Ibid.)
And what does this mean?
If you are already familiar with the teaching of the scholastic doctors and what we have previously discovered in this book, then you will know the answer. It means that if you can’t get the water of baptism prior to dying ‘accidentally’, then your “will” for it --- your resolution, vow and desire to do the right thing, to be baptized in water when your time of preparation and catechism in the Catholic Faith is finished --- can save you even without the literal “act” of someone baptizing you with the sacramental water. (Ibid.)
“Yet wouldn’t this contradict the aforesaid urgent necessity for the Sacrament of Baptism?” inquires a genuinely-puzzled-but-thankfully-not-yet-fundamentalist WO aficionado. “I mean, if the ‘will’ to get baptized in water suffices without ‘actually’ having to receive it, then how can it be ‘most necessary’ for a man to get baptized in water as Fr. Vaux insists?”
+++ 108. A Confusing Dissonance of ‘Necessities’ +++
Which is a very fair question.
Indeed, a most excellent, probing and intelligent question.
After all, just what is the true ‘necessity’ of a baptism that isn’t actually necessary?
And here is where the inconsistencies of the BOD theological opinion begin to be apparent. Because there is, thus far, no real unanimity or thorough approach in the theological solution to this problem over the centuries. Different theologians at different times and in different places tend to come up with at least slightly different (and sometimes very different) explanations for ‘baptism of desire’ and precisely how far its efficacy extends. As a matter of fact, most theological writers don’t acknowledge that there’s a problem to solve in the first place!
They simply ignore it into oblivion because they themselves are oblivious to it.
The typical catechism or theological textbook of the last four or five hundred years will, of course, pay lip service to the ‘necessity’ of water baptism. They will even sometimes say it’s a ‘necessity of means’.
To wit, a necessity that cannot ever be ducked or excused --- there is never any exception to its necessity.
Then, just a few words or sentences or pages elsewhere, the same catechism or textbook will turn around and make it clear that water baptism is not truly a necessity of means by mentioning the alternative of BOD. I.e., if you can get baptized in water, fine. You have obeyed God. Yet if not able to get it before you die while intending to do so, then you may very likely be off the hook since ‘desire’ for baptism can work in its place. Hence, it is a ‘necessity of precept’ rather than a ‘necessity of means’, so that if you can’t do it and are perfectly contrite of heart for your mortal sins, then God won’t blame you and will make an exception in your case.
Mind you, in my studies thus far I have never found it said this simple or straight out --- that water baptism is a necessity of precept instead of a necessity of means. This is probably because BOD theologians are clever enough to know that the Church has appeared to present baptism as a necessity of means.
Hence, how can they contradict what seems to be a perpetual teaching?
But it doesn’t take a genius to see the facts.
Namely, that if you don’t actually have to be baptized in water in order to have your original sin --- not to mention all your mortal sins up until that moment of water baptism --- forgiven and your entrance into Heaven permitted as a result, then how in the world can the Sacrament of Baptism (the very real & physical matter of this sacrament being actual water!) be a necessity of means?
Because it isn’t the only means when another means --- BOD --- exists to save you!
+++ 109. The Crux of the Matter: +++
Which is where it gets confusing. Because the cleverest of theological writers, following the lead of the scholastic doctors, will then tell you that BOD doesn’t save you on its own. It can only save you --- say they --- by operating through the Sacrament of Baptism.
There is some kind of an ‘invisible connection’ between BOD and water baptism, say they. The two things (or three, if you include BOB) are somehow all united together into one single entity, which is what they mean when they speak of the ‘Sacrament of Baptism’. I.e., they don’t mean just ‘baptism of water’ (BOW) when they talk about the Sacrament of Baptism --- they mean BOW and BOD and BOB at the very same time. It’s all inexplicably wrapped together into the one thing of water baptism via ‘desire’ or ‘will’ or ‘resolution’, etc., even without any water actually being involved for BOD or BOB.
Consequently, when an intelligent & learned BOD partisan says ‘baptism of desire’ saves a catechumen who dies ‘accidentally’ without water baptism, he doesn’t really mean that it’s BOD in and of itself that does the saving. It’s not. Instead, he’s saying that the ‘Sacrament of Baptism’ saves an unbaptized catechumen when he dies, whatever this ‘Sacrament of Baptism’ really is, given that there’s no actual or literal water involved.
And that’s the problem. Because what is the Sacrament of Baptism without water? How can it even be the Sacrament of Baptism when its matter --- the visible thing that makes it visibly what it is --- is missing? Indeed, BOD operating ‘through’ the Sacrament of Baptism is an invisible, immaterial and waterless work… we can’t be sure when it occurs, or to whom it happens, since it is utterly unseen by the physical eye and unheard by the physical ear.
It is this intellectual leap (or ‘cognitive sleight of hand’ as some of us would call it) that allows smarter BOD enthusiasts to look at you with a straight face and insist that the Sacrament of Baptism is ‘necessary’. Indeed, that it can even be called a ‘necessity of means’.
So where does this reasoning go awry?
The Sacrament of Baptism is not some undefined, amorphous & ethereal concept. It is a tangible, physical thing, defined both by the form (the words said audibly and hence tangibly heard by the human ear during the administration of baptism, to wit, “I baptize you… etc.”) and the matter (which is real and hence tangible to the human eye and felt by the recipient when the sacramental water is administered upon the forehead).
Ergo, how can an intangible ‘baptism of desire’ be truly equivalent to a tangible ‘baptism of water’?
For that’s what it means (no pun intended) to say that the two distinct things are really a single entity, and that BOD consequently operates through the Sacrament of Baptism!
And this is why, incidentally, I cordially disagree with the mingling of these two different things and insist, politely but logically, that BOD --- if it truly exists and is not simply a figment of the theological imagination --- is never an ‘equivalent to’ or ‘substitute for’ water baptism. Rather, it must be a divinely permissible exception to the otherwise wholly unbreakable rule of a very tangible, physical & real water baptism.
+++ 110. A Confusing Dissonance of ‘Necessities’, Part 2 +++
Now, there is at least one BOD-believing theologian of recent times who essentially admits what I have said above. That is to say, he dispenses with the semantics and eventually, after a lot of discursive prelude in favor of ‘baptism of desire’, subtly calls it for what it is:
A necessity of precept if the sacramental water isn’t absolutely necessary to save your soul.
Yet then he turns around and (earnestly, I’m sure, truly meaning what he says he means however confused I think him to be in his theological opinion) claims that, despite BOD being true, you can still call baptism of water a ‘necessity of means’ since a man has no way to be totally sure BOD will happen for him. Nevertheless, says he, from the point of view of God --- Who as God can dispense with the necessity of sacramental water --- then He can make an exception, seeing perfect contrition in the heart of a catechumen, and grant you forgiveness and entrance into Heaven, regardless.
But is this a fair assessment of the situation?
No, it isn’t. Because ‘necessity of means’ is, by definition, a means that a man cannot ever dispense with. That is to say, a man has no other option. Meanwhile, this theologian does indeed present such a man (an unbaptized catechumen who dies ‘unexpectedly’) with an additional option… ‘baptism of desire’ (BOD).
It matters not that only God can bestow this option (which is not quite true, given that BOD aficionados tell us that the catechumen can himself merit BOD via his perfect contrition for his sins), or that a catechumen cannot count on it for certain prior to his death to save him (the same can be said of water baptism, for how many of us can be totally sure of dying in the state of grace and thus saving his soul even after he’s been baptized in water?). The point is --- granted that ‘baptism of desire’ is true --- a catechumen of good will can rightly dare to hope for BOD to save him if he were to die ‘accidentally’ without the waters of baptism.
Therefore, if BOD is an option, how in the world can water baptism be a ‘necessity of means’? Just because you can’t be sure of it happening for you doesn’t mean you couldn’t possibly wind up benefiting from it at your death!
And so this traditionalist theologian invokes yet another concept to justify his position:
And what is this supposed to be?
By ‘metaphysical necessity’ he means that something is so necessary that not even God Himself can dispense with it. For instance, two plus two equals four. This is a ‘metaphysical necessity’ and not even God can make it add up to anything else. Four is the sum and that’s that.
He’s trying to say that, since salvation without baptismal water is ‘impossible’ for a man but possible with God, then water baptism is not a ‘metaphysical necessity’. But since BOD is ‘impossible’ for a man on his own --- without God making it occur --- then water baptism is not merely a ‘necessity of precept’ either. To the contrary, implies he, it is in the middle of the two extremes and therefore a ‘necessity of means’ for all human beings unless God makes an exception for them.
And it is confusing for one simple reason --- because the Church has always seemed to teach that baptism in water is a necessity of means. Whereas, on the other hand, thinking men have always agreed, logically, that ‘necessity of means’ must leave no other option available for you. As a result, the idea of a ‘metaphysical necessity’ is facetious. It has no real bearing in this debate. BOD being ‘impossible’ for a man to attain on his own is also irrelevant since salvation is always a cooperative effort between God and man, in the case of BOD depending both on a man’s perfect contrition as well as God’s supernatural assistance.
We therefore find that the one centrally vital point in the debate is this:
Has God ever made it possible for a man to be saved without the sacramental waters of baptism crossing his forehead as, simultaneously, the Trinitarian baptismal words are spoken?
That’s the real question.
That God can dispense with the need for baptismal water is beside the point. The scholastic doctors loved to cite this point --- that God isn’t ‘bound’ by His Sacraments --- but this technically correct fact ignores the truly pertinent thing logically begging to be asked:
What has God Himself declared to be His Sovereign Will in the matter of the necessity of the sacraments? Has He made each and every one of them absolutely necessary for the purpose for which they were created, or has He allowed exceptions in at least some cases? And, if so, which cases?
That’s the real issue.
So what has God decided in the matter of BOD vs. WO?
There is no way to resolve this debate until the Catholic Church speaks with a final, infallible & explicit voice upon this subject… something She has never yet seen fit to do when it comes to the topics of ‘baptism of desire’ or ‘baptism of blood’. (Again, dear reader, please see Chapters 4 to 22 in this book if you have doubts. There you will see that the Church has never yet grappled with BOD or BOB explicitly by name or description in an infallible fashion.) Until then, staunch WOers and fervent BODers are jousting with words or indulging intellectual swordplay. Which can be useful if done intelligently. (Although, if done stupidly and obstinately, leads to Catholic fundamentalism, about which you may read here.) But it will never solve the debate with finality for everyone in the One & Only Catholic Body of Christ without an explicit and infallible ruling in the matter.
End of sentence.
+++ 111. The
And so we turn to the next item on our list, what is now called the ‘Douay Catechism’.
Written by Henry Tuberville, a priest who taught at the
Sporting a classic question-and-answer style, the Douay Catechism is militant against Protestantism. An Augustinian monk and German priest, Martin Luther, began this heretical religion when he openly rebelled against the Catholic Church circa 1520. This division then spawned countless other religious divisions as decade followed decade --- the English Protestants especially keen to persecute Catholics wherever they could find them --- only a small minority of the British remaining loyal to Rome by the mid-1600s. Moreover, these few were sometimes poorly instructed in the Catholic Faith, or much infected with manmade Protestant notions.
Fr. Tuberville tackled these problems head on. He posed numerous Protestant attacks against the Catholic Religion and responded to them with clear logic, pertinent scripture and a very direct, even forceful, approach. In short, his catechism neither inadvertently ignored nor purposely ducked anything that Protestants could lob at Catholicism.
What did this Douay Catechism have to say about the Sacrament of Regeneration?
Fr. Tuberville posited the query, “Can a man be saved without baptism?”
Whereupon he rejoindered:
“He cannot, unless he have it either actual [in actuality] or in desire, with contrition [sorrow for your sins], or to be [or he is] baptized in his blood as [like] the holy Innocents were, which [who] suffered for Christ [the infants murdered by King Herod around Bethlehem to destroy the newborn child, Jesus, in order to keep Him from taking Herod’s throne].”
A little later Tuberville asks, “What if a man die for the faith, before he can be baptized?”
To which he responds:
“He is a true martyr,
and baptized in his own blood.”
(The Douay Catechism of 1649, based
+++ 112. What Fr. Tuberville’s Catechism Tells Us +++
What are we to make of these quotes?
First of all, we see a curious thing. Fr. Tuberville goes out of his way to mention ‘baptism of blood’ (BOB) by name, something Catholics hadn’t really done since the first millennium.
Why is this?
Probably because, after
nearly 110 years of heretical schism, the English government had martyred
hundreds of professing Catholics. Sometimes these martyrs were new converts to
the Catholic Faith, i.e., converted from Anglicanism or some other form of
Protestantism. And just like the martyrdoms of the early first millennium under
Whatever the reason, it nicely contrasts BOB with BOD. To wit, Catholics who are well educated and believe in exceptions to the necessity for water baptism have never thought BOB and BOD to be the exact same thing. Whilst related and sharing a waterless condition, the two things operate differently. Ergo, the mentioning of BOB alone (as was often the situation in the 1st millennium) is not then automatic ‘proof’ that such early Catholics believed in the idea of BOD, or that BOB being thought real is then somehow ‘proof’ of BOD being real as well.
Yet Fr. Tuberville doesn’t talk about BOB alone. He also mentions BOD, albeit not by name.
“Can a man be saved without baptism? He cannot, unless he have it either actual [in actuality] or in desire, with contrition [sorrow for your sins]…” (Ibid., Question 610)
Here we have the Council of Trent terminology --- at least in the English translation of the word rendered as ‘desire’ that everyone runs into nowadays --- plainly used to uphold BOD. For while the Trent quotation does not have to be interpreted to uphold BOD and there are, at a minimum, two other ways to rationally interpret Trent’s words so as not to do so, the context here makes the BOD support stark and leaves no other logical option for interpretation.
For Fr. Tuberville asks, “Can a man be saved without baptism?” The “without” in “without baptism” makes it clear that sacramental water is what is being referred to since, just a few lines prior to this question, it is driven home how the “necessary matter” of the Sacrament of Baptism is “water” and, therefore, absent this water, there is no baptism. Hence, “without” means ‘without the sacramental water’. (Ibid., Questions 610 & 606, Pp. 67-68)
And how does Tuberville answer the question of salvation without baptismal water?
“He cannot, unless he have it either actual [in actuality] or in desire…” (Ibid.)
We could reasonably
Not that this should surprise us.
St. Thomas Aquinas and the
scholastic doctors reigned supreme, theologically speaking. BOD was thus
unquestioned. And everyone at this time presumed the Tridentine
Council to have spoken about BOD --- some even thinking this purported
reference to BOD to have been ‘explicit’ and
‘infallible’ --- a presumption seemingly confirmed by the Roman
Catechism that came out of
+++ 113. The Penny Catechism +++
Which leads us to our next thing to examine --- the Penny Catechism.
A relatively short
question-and-answer book (it only has 370 questions, compared to 1132 questions
for the original Douay Catechism), it, too, was the work of English Catholics
living in northern
What can be known is this:
It came into common use in
And what does it have to say about the Sacrament of Baptism?
“Baptism is a Sacrament which cleanses us from original sin, makes us Christians, children of God, and members of the Church.” (A Catechism of Christian Doctrine, later known as the Penny Catechism, Question 256. Published at a date unknown during the 20th century by The Incorporated Catholic Truth Society in London, England. Found online as of 10 April 2013 at http://www.proecclesia.com/penny%20catechism/.)
A few questions later the Penny Catechism asks, “Is Baptism necessary for salvation?”
To which this catechism responds:
necessary for salvation because Christ has said: ‘Unless a man is born again through water and the Spirit,
he cannot enter the
+++ 114. A Penny for Your Catechetical Thoughts +++
The import of these quotes?
First, we see the perpetual teaching of the Church affirmed, that the Sacrament of Baptism cleanses a person from original sin and makes him a member of Christ’s Body, the One & Only Roman Catholic Church.
Secondly, the Penny Catechism informs us of how water baptism is “necessary” for our salvation. It even quotes from the Gospel of St. John, where Jesus tells Nicodemus that human beings cannot enter Heaven without being born again --- baptized --- through both water (the matter of the sacrament!) and Spirit (Who bestows the saving graces of water baptism within us).
Curiously, though, it says nothing about ‘baptism of desire’ or ‘baptism of blood’. Which is not to say, then, that the Penny Catechism can ‘disprove’ BOD or BOB:
Remember, logically speaking, an absence of mention of BOD & BOB is not the same as there being a presence of contradiction against BOD & BOB.
But what is it to say?
That will come in just a little bit, at the end of our section on written catechetical instructions.
+++ 115. The
And now we arrive at the Baltimore Catechism.
Not really just one
catechism --- and, like so many writings that are amended, added to, abridged
and expounded upon over the better part of a century --- it is several very
different versions of a single catechism that was published, originally, in
the 1880s. The
This first version of the Baltimore Catechism was often criticized. However, a much shorter version for children came out a few years later, apparently in 1891.
(The dates and history of each version of the Baltimore Catechism is rather murky and only extensive scholarly research will bring out the precise facts as certain, something I cannot yet make the time to do.)
Then, by 1901, a priest named Thomas L. Kinkead authored a series of explanations of the original Baltimore Catechism, intended as an accompaniment to it and aimed, of course, toward those old enough to understand it. By 1921, this same priest published a very long version of the Baltimore Catechism that was meant to be a two year course in the Catholic Faith for post-Confirmation classes. And, just to confuse things thoroughly, another greatly altered form of the earlier versions was issued in 1941 under the same title, not to mention various other editions published up until the 1960s.
In order to keep things straight, by the late 20th century the original version of 1885 was called Baltimore Catechism No. 2. The much shorter version for children put forth by 1891 was called (although out of sequence with the actual dates of publication) Baltimore Catechism No. 1. The series of explanations written by Fr. Thomas Kinkead as keyed to the original was called (again, out of chronological sequence) Baltimore Catechism No. 4, and his later longest form of all published by 1921 was called Baltimore Catechism No. 3.
It is this last mentioned version that we shall quote from.
+++ 116. What
to Say About the Sacrament of Baptism
The Baltimore Catechism asks, “What is Baptism?”
To which Fr. Kinkead rejoinders:
“Baptism is a Sacrament which cleanses us from original sin, makes us Christians, children of God, and heirs of heaven.”
A page later it poses the question, “Is Baptism necessary to salvation?”
To which Fr. Kinkead responds:
“Baptism is necessary to salvation, because without it we cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
Yet another page later it asks, “How many kinds of Baptism are there?”
To which Fr. Kinkead replies:
“There are three kinds of Baptism: Baptism of water, of desire, and of blood.”
Still one more page on, it queries, “What is Baptism of desire?”
To which Fr. Kinkead answers:
“Baptism of desire is an ardent wish to receive Baptism, and to do all that God has ordained [commanded] for our salvation.”
A few questions after this, it asks, “Is Baptism of desire or of blood sufficient to produce the effects of Baptism of water?”
And Fr. Kinkead assures us:
“Baptism of desire or of blood is sufficient to produce the effects of the Baptism of water [i.e., forgiveness of sins], if it is impossible to receive the Baptism of water.”
Then, in the very next question, it inquires, “How do we know that the Baptism of desire or of blood will save us when it is impossible to receive the Baptism of water?”
Whereupon Fr. Kinkead informs us:
“We know that Baptism of desire or of blood will save us when it is impossible to receive the Baptism of water, from Holy Scripture, which teaches that love of God and perfect contrition [perfect sorrow] can secure the remission [forgiveness] of sins; and also that Our Lord promises salvation to those who lay down their life for His sake or for His teaching.” (A Catechism of Christian Doctrine, later known in this version as Baltimore Catechism No. 3, Questions 621, 631, 644, 650, 653 & 654, pages 38-41. Published by Benziger Brothers, Inc., at New York City in, apparently, 1921, with the imprimatur of Abp. Patrick J. Hayes. PDF file of this book found online as of 4 May 2013 at http://www.u.arizona.edu/~aversa/baltimore_catechism.pdf. All emphases & annotations added in this and other quotes from Baltimore Catechism No. 3.)
+++ 117. The Import of Fr. Kinkead’s Teaching +++
The import of Fr. Kinkead’s baptismal teaching in Baltimore Catechism No. 3?
First, we notice he describes baptism in almost the same words as the Penny Catechism we looked at just a few chapters earlier. To wit, “Baptism is a Sacrament which cleanses us from original sin, makes us Christians, children of God, and heirs of heaven.” (Ibid., Question 621) These are Fr. Kinkead’s words. Whereas the Penny Catechism told us, “Baptism is a Sacrament which cleanses us from original sin, makes us Christians, children of God, and members of the Church.” (Penny Catechism, Question 256. Please see Chapter 113 in this book, Baptismal Confusion for further info.)
The underlined clauses in both quotes are the only differences between the descriptions of baptism that the two catechisms give us.
Which ought not to surprise us. For, in a nutshell, this is how the Church has always described the Sacrament of Baptism. Fr. Kinkead lifted it wholesale from Baltimore Catechism No. 2 (where it is Question 152 and was the first of the Baltimore Catechisms published in 1885) and the writer of the original Baltimore Catechism --- whoever he was --- was probably very much aware of, and influenced by, the Penny Catechism that was so well known at that time in the 1800s amongst English-speaking Catholics, even in America.
And what kind of importance does Fr. Kinkead ascribe to baptism?
“Baptism is necessary
to salvation, because without it
we cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (
Again, this in a nutshell is how the Catholic Church has always explained baptism. For while he doesn’t distinguish between ‘necessity of means’ and ‘necessity of precept’, he very correctly tells us how baptism is necessary, and that “…without it we cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
That is to say, human beings need baptism to save their souls.
But then he turns around and says there are ‘three different kinds’ of baptism, doesn’t he? ‘Baptism of water’, ‘baptism of desire’ and ‘baptism of blood’. (Ibid., Question 644)
This is where it gets a
little troubling. Because the well-instructed Catholic knows how
Yet Fr. Kinkead surely knew his scholastic doctors, and the scholastic doctors were aware of this Holy Ghost-inspired passage of Sacred Scripture. Which is why we cannot be just and hang the long-gone priest with his words here at this juncture. It is not said very precisely --- it is, in fact, said really badly --- but we can safely assume that Fr. Kinkead understood the three different ‘kinds’ of baptism to be ‘invisibly connected’ and therefore merely an inexplicable part of a single ‘Sacrament of Baptism’… whatever this ‘Sacrament of Baptism’ is when two of its different ‘kinds’ have no visible matter of water. This is as I explained in Chapter 109 of Baptismal Confusion just a little while back.
Nevertheless, what is ‘baptism of desire’?
Fr. Kinkead calls it “…an ardent wish to receive Baptism, and to do all that God has ordained [commanded] for our salvation.” (Ibid., Question 650)
Again, this is spot-on scholastic teaching. Without giving us a full and perfect description of BOD, it succinctly expresses the concept in a couple of clauses. You must want or intend to get water baptism, and “…do all that God has ordained for our salvation.” (Ibid.) In others words, know what God’s Catholic Church teaches us and do all you can to obey it!
But is this enough to save our souls?
According to Fr. Kinkead, it is. “Baptism of desire or of blood is sufficient to produce the effects of the Baptism of water [i.e., forgiveness of sins], if it is impossible to receive the Baptism of water.” (Ibid., Question 653)
How can we be sure it’s enough?
Fr. Kinkead insists, “We know that Baptism of desire or of blood will save us when it is impossible to receive the Baptism of water, from Holy Scripture, which teaches that love of God and perfect contrition [perfect sorrow] can secure the remission [forgiveness] of sins…” (Ibid., Question 654)
There it is. Per the priestly writer of Baltimore Catechism No. 3, we can be certain BOD will save us because the Bible tells us so.
Or is it?
+++ 118. A Curious Puzzle +++
My purpose here is not to weary the reader with tedious quotes. Nor is it to belittle Fr. Thomas L. Kinkead. The man is long-gone from this earth and has faced his final judgment before God Almighty some time ago.
It is, though, to draw a stark contrast. Previous catechisms that we looked at either say nothing about BOD or else say very little in passing, not even mentioning the subject by name.
Then, suddenly, here at the beginning of the 20th century, Fr. Kinkead decides to go into ‘baptism of desire’ specifically by name at some length and give us all kinds of information about it.
Why is this?
Prior to the Council of
Trent during the 1500s, the teaching of BOD was pretty much restricted to
highly trained theologians. Then, with the Roman Catechism that came out of
Then, here, after all of this, centuries later at the beginning of the 1900s, a priest suddenly gets a national platform and decides to go into quite some detail about the subject specifically by name. He seems to go out of his way to teach the topic to laypersons throughout the United States --- or wherever Baltimore Catechism No. 3 will be read by English-speaking Catholics --- and assures us that ‘baptism of desire’ can save us since the Bible teaches us it will do so.
Again… why is this?
Why is it so important to this priest, or to the bishops that imprimatured his catechism, that every English-speaking Catholic know about BOD, and why does he cite Sacred Scripture as support for his claims without actually giving us any exact biblical references?
The latter part of the question we will review in a short while. The first part of the question we will not try to answer, at least not yet, but we will make a poignant observation:
This is why ostensible Catholics in the United States by the mid-20th century had bought into the idea of ‘baptism of desire’ --- because their Baltimore Catechism that they had been raised upon had told them that BOD was real and rather easily attained by any catechumen who wished it, dying ‘accidentally’ before he could receive the regenerating waters of a holy baptism.
And these American Catholics of the mid-1900s assumed, naively, that a catechism is infallible. Or that the imprimatur that it has from a bishop made it infallible. (Please review Chapters 84 to 88 of this book, Baptismal Confusion, to see proof again, my dear reader, that no catechism has ever yet been infallible in its totality of words, and Chapter 22 once more to see with whom and when the gift of infallibility actually operates.) Or, at any rate, that the priest or bishop who taught them from this catechism was infallible. Or so forth and so on.
This Baltimore Catechism is why most English-speaking BOD believers are so wedded to the idea of ‘baptism of desire’ and sternly condemn those who dare to question it or doubt it. Most BODers have little or no knowledge of scholastic doctors or anything else that we’ve gone into in some detail in this book, Baptismal Confusion. But they do know that the catechism they grew up with taught it and explained it in a bit of detail, assuring them that it is upheld by Scripture.
Such is the story of BOD.
Oh, and one more thing
before we finish up with this section on catechisms. Beware Baltimore Catechisms No. 2, 3 & 4, as well as
later editions that are even more egregious with Modernism. They are very fine
about many things, teaching safely and rightly. However, they do contain salvation heresy, telling readers that
people can die in ‘ignorance’ as they practice a false religion,
going to Heaven regardless of being visibly outside Christ’s
This teaching of ‘salvation in the state of ignorance about catholicity’ is not true. It contradicts what the True Church and Her members have always specifically taught since the beginning about the tangible profession and visible hope of salvation --- earliest Catholics meaning something very different by the ancient formula of ‘no salvation outside the church’ than the novel interpretation that people going by the name of ‘catholic’ attach to it in the last century (‘no salvation visibly outside the church unless you really don’t know that there’s no salvation outside this very visible church’) --- and it will damn your soul if you believe it.
+++ 119. Christian Doctrine Drills +++
We now turn to our last example, Christian Doctrine Drills.
Not quite a catechism in the sense that has been usual for at least the last 500 years (it’s more a series of brief lists about things necessary to know to be Catholic than a work of prose explaining the Catholic Faith), it nevertheless covers everything essential to profession of the True Religion of Eternal Rome. It is also, as far as I can tell --- and regardless of it first being published in 1925, apparently, not even a century before our times --- written anonymously.
That is to say, thus far I can find no information about who composed it; there is nothing in the published text itself that tells the reader who the author is. Perhaps lengthy scholarly research would be able to dig up more data. Unfortunately, I haven’t the leisure to do so.
But the text does tell us that Bp. Albert Meyer officially approved it, albeit only decades later after it was first issued in the 1920s. And Bp. Meyer, who went on to become a cardinal, too, was archbishop of Chicago from 1958 onward till his death from a malignant tumor in 1965 (he was also bishop of Superior and archbishop of Milwaukee, both in Wisconsin, prior to this).
The point is, this catechism has ecclesial authority behind it despite its anonymity.
And what does it have to say about the Sacrament of Baptism?
“Drill 27 --- Matter and Form of the Sacraments[.] Baptism: --- Matter is water. Form: ‘I baptize thee in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.’ …Sacraments of the Dead[.] Baptism --- Penance[.] Called ‘Sacraments of the Dead’ --- may be received by persons in the state of sin because the immediate object of these Sacraments is the conferring of grace on those in such a condition. BAPTISM[.] Drill 29 --- Three Kinds of Baptism[.] 1. Water 2. Desire 3. Blood[.] Drill 30 --- Give a Scriptural Proof of Baptism[.] ‘He that believeth [believes] and is baptized shall be saved.[..]’ --- St. Mark XVI:16.” (Christian Doctrine Drills, Pages 9-11. Published by D.B. Hansen & Sons in Chicago, IL, in 1925. All annotations added.)
+++ 120. The Enthronement of Desire +++
And that’s it. That’s all this little catechism teaches us about baptism.
The import of these skeletal instructions?
Again, it confirms what any Catholic already knows --- the matter of baptism is water and the form for baptism is, “I baptize thee [or ‘you’ in more contemporary English] in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost [or ‘Holy Spirit’ as many would say nowadays].” This is what makes baptism baptism and without these very visible things of matter and form there can be no visible or tangible sacrament. Baptismal water and the Spirit go together inextricably, causing a man to be ‘born again’ from out of spiritual death into spiritual life.
But, secondly, ‘desire’ is presented, too, as one of three different ‘kinds’ of baptism, the other two being ‘water’ and ‘blood’.
Finally, and third, Jesus’ statement in Mark 16:16a (“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved…”) is touted as biblical proof for baptism. Note, though, how nothing in this precise scriptural quote explicitly supports BOD (‘baptism of desire’) or BOB (‘baptism of blood’) by name… only that baptism along with belief are two foundational things necessary for salvation.
Now the first and third points are of ancient origin. It is indubitable for a real Catholic that Christ & His Apostles taught the necessity of right belief (the common dogmas of the Catholic Faith) and right baptism (matter of water and form of words performed together simultaneously) in order to save an immortal human soul.
Whereas the second point is of later origin. For although St. Augustine clearly taught a simplified version of our more recent BOD in AD 400, this particular notion of BOD did not, inarguably, exist prior to the fifth century and apart from Augustine’s theological speculation. Due to Augustine’s immense reputation, it then spread slowly yet surely into the thinking of other theologians in the Church till, near the beginning of the 2nd millennium, it achieved critical mass and became a dominant opinion amongst learned ecclesial leaders & teachers. And near the middle of this same millennium it began to be introduced into the thinking of lesser minds in the Church… but never, apparently, by explicit name until the turn of the 20th century when, at last, the idea of BOD began to be taught both explicitly and rigorously to practically every person brought up in, or seemingly converted to, the Most Holy Religion of Catholic Rome.
This is, as it were, the enthronement of BOD as a presumed ‘dogmatic certainty’ in the minds of those who go by the name of Catholic in our times… and even though, in reality, the Church has never yet clearly asserted the truth of this teaching with Her full infallible authority.
+++ 121. The Distinction Between the Ordinary +++
and the Extraordinary Magisterium
We have already established from Chapters 34 to 82 in this book, Baptismal Confusion, how ‘baptism of desire’ was not something explicitly taught by Christ & His Apostles from the very beginning during the 1st century. That is to say, BOD cannot be an explicit teaching held in common by every member of the Catholic Church from earliest times. For if it were an explicit teaching from the beginning --- and thus necessary for a person to know it and profess it in order to be Catholic along with all of the other common dogmas --- then the early Church fathers of the first millennium would have, each of them, clearly affirmed it by name or exact description in their writings. Indeed, it is this unanimity (or, at least, almost total unanimity) of the fathers of old, along with the ancient creeds, that allows us, as Catholics, to know with moral certainty what teachings were explicit & common to the Church from the start, making a man Catholic.
This is the Ordinary Magisterium.
The teachings of the Ordinary Magisterium are infallible but do not need a pope --- or a pope in conjunction with an ecumenical council --- to explicitly & solemnly teach them in order for us to be sure they are infallible dogmas. The simple fact that all Catholics everywhere from most ancient times (including popes and bishops!) have professed them, is sufficient.
That is to say, it is the catholicity (members of the Church everywhere, regardless of location) along with the apostolicity (members of the Church everywhen, since the beginning) of these teachings which assures us that they are dogmas both explicitly known and held in common by members of the Church, making them members and thus truly Catholic to start with.
And, as we have noted before, there are dozens of early Church fathers. Whereas only three of them --- Ss. Cyprian (sort of), Ambrose (possibly) and Augustine (at first) --- are ever said to have explicitly taught some kind of notion of ‘baptism of desire’ (BOD) or ‘baptism of spirit’ (BOS). How, then, can BOD or BOS have been explicitly taught or held in common by all members of the Church since the beginning with Christ & His Apostles?
Meanwhile, we established from Chapters 4 to 22 of this book, Baptismal Confusion, how the papacy --- or the papacy in conjunction with an ecumenical council --- has never yet clearly affirmed BOD by name or adequate description in their solemn pronouncements. Both sides of the argument, whether ‘baptism of desire’ aficionados (BODers) or ‘water only’ enthusiasts (WOers), love to invoke the Council of Trent. They will also, many of them, invoke other ecclesial declarations or condemnations.
The catch is, these declarations or condemnations never make either BOD or WO inarguably clear & explicit, mentioning these teachings explicitly by name or with an adequately concise description (or, as in the case of Michel de Bay, making it clear which statements are fully condemned --- see Chapter 20)… every intelligent, learned & honest man must admit that the Church was not trying to address BOD or WO head on in these statements, and every intelligent, learned & honest man who is determined to do so may therefore, logically, interpret the statements to mean something other than BOD or WO and hence argue with reasonable conviction that the controversy is not settled with infallible certainty.
This is the Extraordinary Magisterium.
The teachings of the Extraordinary Magisterium are infallible and must have a pope --- or a pope in conjunction with an ecumenical council --- to explicitly & solemnly teach them in order for us to be sure they are infallible dogmas. It is this clear and authoritative statement to all Catholics everywhere from that point in time onward that makes us able to know them as infallible.
Which leaves us with the catechisms that we have examined from Chapters 83 to 120 in this book, Baptismal Confusion, none of which are acts of infallibility in and of themselves. That is to say, they may, each of them, repeat or convey statements from the ordinary or extraordinary magisterium that are infallible, but not every word or sentence or paragraph in these catechisms is guaranteed to be infallible. Please review Chapters 84 to 88, my dear soul, if you’re hazy or skeptical about this point.
The first catechism, the Catechism of St. Cyril of Jerusalem from the AD 300s, confirms what we already knew, how the vast majority of Catholics during the 1st millennium never knew about or believed in the theological opinion of BOD or BOS, ‘baptism of blood’ (BOB) being the only exception clearly mentioned to an otherwise wholly & absolutely necessary ‘baptism of water’ (BOW).
Then we examined the Catechism of the Council of Trent from the sixteenth century, as well as the English Catechism of 1583 and the Douay Catechism of 1649. All three of these catechisms do indeed mention ‘baptism of desire’ (the Catechism of the Council of Trent doing so for, as far as I can ascertain, the first time ever for a catechism in Church history) --- yet not explicitly by name. Each of them only refers to BOD via a partial description, in passing and inferentially.
Whereupon we glanced at the Penny Catechism from the nineteenth century. And, curiously, this catechism avoids mention of BOD altogether, neither talking about it explicitly by name nor by partial description in passing or inferentially! In its pages BOW is it; not even BOB gets a nod.
Last we examined Baltimore Catechism No. 3 and Christian Doctrine Drills from the early twentieth century. And here, finally, we get a clear & explicit mention of BOD by name, as well as, in the Baltimore Catechism, a bit of a detailed description of the concept, too.
So what can these catechisms and their words --- or lack thereof --- tell us about BOD?
+++ 122. Catechetical Recap No. 1: +++
BOD Can’t Be Part of the Ordinary Magisterium
First, BOD cannot be a part of the Ordinary Magisterium and consequently explicitly necessary for all persons of adequate mind to know & profess in order to be Catholic to start with.
Were this not so, then both the Catechism of St. Cyril of Jerusalem from the fourth century and the Penny Catechism from the nineteenth century are horribly deficient in what they teach us --- since they both totally fail to mention BOD --- thereby misleading untold numbers of souls into what they think is the Catholic Faith whole and entire, but which is, in reality, but a semblance and a cheat, lacking a common dogma that is something eternally vital to know and profess, being Catholic from the get-go.
Yet how can we believe this?
St. Cyril was a saint,
doctor and father of the ancient Church, as well as the bishop of
How could his catechism be hideously deficient, how could it have been preserved to this day as a valuable writing and precious source of Catholic teaching since earliest times?
Meanwhile, the Penny
Catechism has been popular amongst English-speaking Catholics for nearly two
hundred years, having been called for by the British episcopacy repeatedly and
possessing the imprimatur of the bishop of
How could this catechism be hideously deficient, how could it be used as a valuable means of teaching and precious source of Catholic dogma since the early 1800s till our own time?
The conclusion is plain, reinforcing what we already knew from studying the Church fathers:
‘Baptism of desire’ is not a teaching explicitly known and professed by all Catholics since the time of Jesus & His Apostles, and is thus not a part of the Ordinary Magisterium of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.
+++ 123. Catechetical Recap No. 2: +++
BOD Can’t Be Part of the Extraordinary Magisterium, Either
However, and second, BOD cannot be a part of the Extraordinary Magisterium and now explicitly necessary for all persons of adequate mind to know & profess --- be it both urgent and possible for them to learn it --- in order to remain truly Catholic for the rest of their lives.
End of sentence.
Were this not so, then, arguably, the Penny Catechism is seriously deficient. For pretty much all BOD enthusiasts like to think that the Council of Trent during the AD 1500s ‘explicitly’ defined BOD with infallible authority. But if so, then why does the Penny Catechism --- first published in the AD 1800s --- say not a word about it?
Whereas, in stark contrast, this same Penny Catechism tells us that the Blessed Virgin Mary is immaculate (something only infallibly defined in 1854) and, in later editions of the 20th century, mentions, too, that She was gloriously assumed into Heaven (something only infallibly defined by 1950). And yet this catechism, short as it is, can’t find time to mention, at least in passing, that baptism remits sins even without water via a good desire or a solemn resolution?
It doesn’t quite add up.
Not only that, if Trent supposedly ‘explicitly’ defined the teaching of ‘baptism of desire’ --- making it into something important for all Catholics of adequate mind to understand --- then why did the Catechism of the Council of Trent (first published in 1566), the English Catechism of 1583 (first published in 1567 despite practically exclusive use of the 1583 edition later on) and the Douay Catechism (first published in 1649) mention BOD only in barest passing… and not even explicitly by name?
This is a revealing fact.
After all, if BOD is real and could be the difference between eternal life and everlasting death should a person die without getting water baptism… and this has been ‘explicitly’ defined by an infallible Church… then why in the world wouldn’t a catechism after the Council of Trent take a little time to explain the teaching in some detail and make certain the catechumen knows how to take advantage of BOD just in case he might need it prior to dying without the sacramental water? Why wouldn’t they explain, for instance, that the unbaptized catechumen must have perfect (as opposed to imperfect!) contrition in his heart for his sins to profit from BOD?
The answer is simple:
Because the Catholic Church has not yet explicitly defined the teaching of BOD.
Ergo, nothing has been settled for absolute certain about the notion. By the time of the Council of Trent in the mid-1500s the teaching had entered the thinking of learned bishops, priests, monks & theologians. They were morally certain that ‘baptism of desire’ existed.
Yet infallibly certain?
For although in the wake of Trent it became a natural assumption that the Tridentine fathers had referred to BOD in its decree on justification, however tangentially --- and hence that it was at least ‘proximate’ to dogma --- there was no explicit mention by name of BOD in the decrees or canons of Trent and certainly no detailed explanation of the whole notion.
As a result, anyone’s knowledge of BOD was based squarely on the teaching of the scholastic doctors earlier in the second millennium, from the 1100s, 1200s & 1300s, and not on an explicit infallible decree of the Holy Catholic Church from the pope or from a pope in conjunction with a general council.
What does this mean?
It means that catechetical
Nonetheless, they did not feel compelled to say anything more about the subject --- not even mentioning it by name in the three catechisms quoted from above during the first one hundred years after Trent --- or to explain in detail how BOD is supposed to operate, since the mechanics of ‘baptism of desire’ or ‘baptism of spirit’ is a thing purely of theological speculation and not at all anywhere yet defined explicitly or explained with explicit infallibility by the Holy Roman Catholic Church.
But, of course, this mindset had changed by the beginning of the 20th century.
+++ 124. Catechetical Recap No. 3: +++
BOD Rules at the Same Time Salvation Heresy Reigns
And here we arrive at the third and final point.
Namely, that although BOD or BOS was never a part of the Ordinary Magisterium (taught explicitly from the time of Jesus & His Apostles as part of the common dogmas that every man must know & profess in order to be Catholic to start with), and although BOD or BOS has never yet been a part of the Extraordinary Magisterium (taught explicitly by a pope, or a pope in tandem with a general council, from that point in time onward as part of the solemn dogmas that every man should know & profess in order to remain Catholic, but that, if he truly cannot know and is inculpable in his ignorance, will not prevent him from saving his soul as a Catholic), the notion of ‘baptism of desire’ (BOD) or ‘baptism of spirit’ (BOS) --- the former being the newer title in English that we’re used to in the last few centuries, the latter being the title, as derived from Latin, that the scholastic doctors used prior to the last few centuries --- has, nevertheless, become ‘enthroned’, as it were, in the minds of all people claiming to be Catholic in the last hundred years or so.
That is to say, everyone has either assumed that BOD or BOS is morally certain and hence proximate to dogma, or else they have assumed that BOD or BOS is infallibly certain and hence actually is dogma.
Whichever the case, the idea of ‘baptism of desire’ or ‘baptism of spirit’ had become enthroned in the theological thinking of these people.
Now here’s the curious thing. Indeed, a tragic thing:
At almost the same time this was occurring… people being taught BOD explicitly like it’s certainly true at the beginning of the 20th century… they were also being taught the heresy of ‘salvation in the state of invincible ignorance’. Recollect my warning at the end of Chapter 118 that Baltimore Catechism No. 3 teaches, in its section about the Church, that a person can die in the state of salvation while in the practice of a false religion, visibly outside the Church, and in spite of the Catholic Religion blatantly and infallibly teaching us, from the very first century, how there is most definitely ‘no Salvation outside the Church’. This is in addition to the Baltimore Catechism teaching, in the section about Baptism, that BOD is true.
And while it’s not in the scope of this book to wrangle over the Salvation Heresy of our modern era --- that’s for another book and will be the result of another herculean effort --- it has to be faced head on and grappled with. As I said in the very first chapter:
“The confusion over the Sacrament of Baptism is not about ‘no Salvation outside the Church’.
“Most people who call themselves Catholic and consider themselves traditional mix the two things up. These two very different topics are indirectly related but otherwise wholly separate.”
Yet now, my dear reader, we have come to a very puzzling juncture and face a truly vexing problem. It is a dilemma we cannot duck. We must dive in.
Because this is where the two distinct topics finally meet and become “indirectly related”.
+++ 125. The Dark Heart of Our Apostasy… +++
Salvation Heresy is not new.
It existed in the first few centuries of Christianity, too. That’s why
St. Cyprian of
However, Salvation Heresy back then is not quite what it is today.
In the first five or six hundred years of Catholicism, Salvation Heresy meant something along the lines of, “Gnosticism can save you.” Or, “Arianism can save you.” Or, “Donatism can save you.” Or etc., etc., fill in the blank. Not that the heretics or schismatics themselves would have called themselves by these names; usually these terms are what steadfast Catholics wound up calling them, as a label of convenience to distinguish the separate categories.
The point is, ‘no Salvation outside the Church’ was a reminder, way back then, that no other religion or church could save you. You had to be visibly inside the Roman Catholic Church and visibly professing the Catholic Religion whole and entire.
The extraordinary & solemn magisterium even infallibly re-affirmed this common dogma numerous times. Apart from the Athanasian Creed of the 4th century (which, were it not thought infallible at the time, is unquestionably infallible with the official approval of, say, for instance, Session 8 at the Council of Florence in 1439), the 4th Lateran Council upheld it in 1215, Pope Boniface VIII defined it with an absolute rigor in 1302 with his bull, Unam sanctam, and the Council of Florence defined it with an equal rigor in 1442 in Cantate domino.
But then a strange thing happened.
Around the turn of the 16th century, certain theologians --- who were supposed to be Catholic --- began to speculate that, since ‘invincible ignorance’ of what is sin makes one guiltless of that sin, then ‘invincible ignorance’ of the Catholic Faith would make one guiltless of not professing that Faith or visibly belonging to its very visible and unique Church. Not only that, but, in tandem with this ‘invincible ignorance’, a truly ‘sincere’ and ‘earnest’ belief in one’s false religious teachings --- far from damning you --- would, instead, make God let you into Heaven!
And even though such a person is visibly outside the Roman Catholic Church.
This is the modern form of Salvation Heresy.
Specifically, it is the heresy of ‘salvation through ignorance’ or, to put it more exactly, ‘salvation in the state of invincible ignorance’.
Such heretics do not necessarily claim to deny the ancient dogma of ‘no Salvation outside the Church’. To the contrary, they often insist that they uphold it… but in its ‘proper’ sense. Which, when you get right down to it, means in a way very much different than what Roman Catholics used to mean by it. To wit, what they mean when they say ‘no Salvation outside the Church’ is not what members of the Catholic Church before modern times always meant by the infallible statement. Prior to modern times, what Catholics meant was simple and straightforward --- ‘no Salvation if you die visibly outside the Catholic Church practicing a false religion or in the practice of no religion at all’.
Now what is meant is this:
“No Salvation outside the Church unless you don’t really know that there’s no Salvation outside the Church. Then, of course, there is plenty of Salvation available for you… and even though you’re not actually and visibly inside the Roman Catholic Church.”
+++ 126. …And the Filthy Innards of That Religious Lie +++
Now, these things don’t matter to most salvation heretics. They couldn’t care less what the Church has taught infallibly since most ancient times. They are Modernists, and Modernism teaches that it’s not important what religion you are. Maybe this is because there is no God, and hence religion is just a fantasy. Or maybe it’s because --- if you must insist on believing in a Creator --- this Creator doesn’t care what religion you are. He’s just glad that you’re ‘trying your best’ to be a ‘good’ person.
Such persons are sadly beyond the reach of the Catholic Faith, barring a great miracle to blow away their unbelief into smithereens and show how ridiculous their anti-Catholicism is. They’re happy to believe in any religion, or no religion at all, just as long as it’s not the Roman Catholic Religion… the real Catholic Religion of Eternal Rome, the One that has taught since the beginning that there is no Salvation outside Her Very Visible Sanctuary & Very Visible Teachings.
However, some salvation heretics insist that they’re Catholic --- and they’re quite serious about this claim. Perhaps they’re learned theologians and hence it’s their living that’s at stake. After all, if your field of study is supposed to be the Catholic Faith and you have a very impressive degree after your name and yet you’re not really Catholic… then who is?
Or perhaps they’re traditionalists in the SSPX or the CMRI, or etc., and hence it’s their reputation that’s at stake. After all, if you’re supposed to be so dead serious about Catholicism that you reject the changes that came on the heels of Vatican II and might not even accept the men who everyone says are popes and yet you’re still not really Catholic… well, then, who is?
These people have a problem. Because they know the Roman Catholic Church has taught there’s ‘no Salvation outside the Church’. And they know very well that they don’t believe this simple dogma. And yet they say --- they insist! --- that they’re Catholic. As a result, they can’t just reject ‘no Salvation outside the Church’ without admitting they are not truly Catholic.
How to get around this? Enter ‘baptism of desire’.
BOD understood rightly says that, somehow, unbaptized catechumens are connected to the Church through the Sacrament of Baptism. It has to be this way or else the idea of BOD opposes what the Church has taught --- and the Church has always seemed to teach that water baptism is a necessity of means for a man’s salvation, joining him to the Church, and the Church has always, with absolute clarity, taught explicitly from the beginning that membership in Her Visible Body and profession of This Body’s Visible Faith is absolutely necessary for a man of sound mind to hope to be saved, to enter Heaven.
Yet do you remember the notion of an ‘implicit’ desire for baptism?
Understood rightly, this applies to a man who --- while humanly incapable of full catechesis in the Catholic Faith --- nevertheless knows that Catholicism is true, that there is a God, that this One God is nevertheless Three Persons, that one of these Persons became a Man to die for our sins, and that His Body, His Church, is the Roman Catholic Church, outside of which no one can hope to be saved. Hence, this hypothetical man wants to be Catholic. He fully intends to learn everything that he can, and must, know in order to please his Creator. It isn’t his fault that he couldn’t learn everything; it isn’t his fault that he died before he could do so. And, if he died not knowing that water baptism is necessary --- and therefore unbaptized --- God won’t refuse to let him into Heaven. An ‘implicit’ desire for baptism, coupled with perfect contrition for his sins, will remit these sins and join him invisibly to the Church, allowing him to save his soul.
This is the orthodox understanding of ‘implicit’ BOD.
Somewhere in the last five centuries or so, however, this orthodox understanding of ‘implicit’ BOD got stretched beyond its orthodox boundaries and applied to people that don’t even know or believe that Catholicism is true, or that there is a God, or that He is Triune, or that one of His Persons became a Man and died for our sins, or that His Body is the Roman Catholic Church, outside of which no one can hope to be saved.
+++ 127. These Filthy Innards Fully Exposed +++
Such people are, or could be, ‘invincibly ignorant’ of the Catholic Faith, the new modernist thinking went. They really can’t know that it’s necessary to be Catholic in order to be saved. Hence, they aren’t guilty of being outside the Catholic Church. What’s more, such people are, or could be, completely ‘sincere’ about their false religion or rejection of the Catholic Religion. They really do think that they’re right. Nonetheless, if they did know that Catholicism was true, this same ‘sincerity’ would compel them to be Catholic. They thus want to do the right thing. It’s not their fault that they aren’t Catholic. It’s not their fault if they aren’t baptized in water. They therefore have an ‘implicit’ desire for baptism and they are invisibly connected to the Roman Catholic Church.
This is how such theologians or traditionalists, who insist that they’re Catholic, rationalize their denial of the dogma, ‘no Salvation outside the Church’. This is how they pretend to be Catholic while rejecting what the Catholic Church teaches --- and always has taught --- that there is absolutely no Salvation for the man of sound mind who does not know and does not profess the Roman Catholic Faith.
Incidentally, these modernist theologians or self-styled traditionalists pretend that their understanding of the Salvation Dogma is only a ‘deeper’ understanding of this ancient teaching, and, therefore, that they are not denying what was taught before modern times.
Whereas, in reality, these modernists dare to change the dogma, ‘no Salvation outside the Church’, from what it has always meant from the beginning --- ‘no Salvation outside visible membership in the Catholic Church and visible profession of the Catholic Faith whole and entire’ --- into something that denies the real & ancient meaning, by saying instead that it means, ‘no Salvation outside the Catholic Church unless you really don’t know that there’s no Salvation outside the Church, in which case you actually can be saved outside the very visible confines and visible profession of the Roman Catholic Church’.
And we repeat:
This is not just a ‘deeper’ understanding of the ancient dogma, ‘no Salvation outside the Church’. This is a denial of the ancient understanding of the dogma altogether. Anyone of intelligent mind who thoroughly reads the Church Fathers or Christian writings from earliest times knows very well that ancient Catholics did not understand the Salvation Dogma to make any exceptions for ignorance during New Testament times, that, to the contrary, ancient Roman Catholics knew and believed ignorance of Catholicism to be equivalent to damnation in Hell forever if a person died in that ignorance, not actually becoming visibly Catholic prior to eternity.
+++ 128. The Proper Interpretation of ‘no Salvation +++
Outside the Church’ Proved Again from Two Doctors, Part 1
At this point some readers may be contemptuous or skeptical.
“How ridiculous!” they might exclaim. “I know for a fact the Church teaches that people who are invincibly ignorant of the true religion may, if good willed, save themselves despite their visible lack of the Catholic Faith. This is clearly taught! Only a Feeneyite would deny it.”
This is what they say, more or less.
The flaw in their thinking?
That their theological opinion is a ‘clear’ Church teaching.
It is not.
It is a theological opinion that flies in the face of clear Church teaching prior to its arrival in the last millennium. To wit, before ‘salvation-in-the-state-of-ignorance-and-sincerity’ came onto the scene, Catholics had always understood ‘no Salvation outside the Church’ to mean there is no salvation possible for a man of sound mind without hearing about the Catholic Faith and believing that it is true, and thereby consequently obeying it.
That this false theological opinion of ‘salvation-in-the-state-of-ignorance-and-sincerity’ has come to dominate the thinking of those people who claim to be Catholic is a sign of our times --- of the fact that we are living near the end of our present world, in a condition of religious darkness when salvation heresy is more-and-more assumed to be true, and more-and-more proclaimed boldly as if it were true… and as if Catholics must believe it.
“For there shall be a time [there will come a day], when they will not endure sound doctrine [right teaching]; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves [be attracted to] teachers, having itching ears [wanting to believe religious lies]: and will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables [they will believe false teachings].” (2 Timothy 4:3-4 DRC, emphases & annotations added)
And as St. Paul also noted about this time near the end:
“And then that wicked one shall be revealed… Satan, in all power, and signs, and lying wonders [miracles that trick you into believing falsehoods], and in all seduction of iniquity [temptation into sin] to them that perish; because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. Therefore God shall send them the operation of error [leave them enslaved to their love for false religion], to believe lying [the untrue teachings of these false religions]: that all may be judged [condemned to hell forever] who have not believed the truth, but have consented to iniquity.” 2 Thessalonians 2:8a, 9b-11 DRC, emphases & annotations added)
At the heart of our darkness is the religious lie that anyone of sound mind can be saved whether or not they are Catholic. This is the maelstrom at the center of our Great Apostasy, around which the storm of unbelief rages. This is the falsehood that tickles itching ears --- the itchy ears loving to hear teachers that teach it --- and which Satan is only too happy to support with “all power, and signs, and lying wonders,” in this way deceiving “…them that perish; because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” (Ibid.)
And so we find this lie of
‘salvation-in-the-state-of-ignorance-and-sincerity’ taught more and
more boldly during the last 250 years. Indeed, at the beginning of the 20th
century, it entered into the primary tool used to teach English-speaking Catholics,
leastwise here in
“Q. 509. [Question 509] Are all [Is everyone] bound [obligated] to belong to the Church? A. [Answer 509] All are bound to belong to the Church, and he who knows the Church to be the true Church and remains out of it [does not become a member of it] cannot be saved.
“Q. 510. Is it ever possible for [some]one to be saved who does not know the Catholic Church to be the true Church? A. It is possible for one to be saved who does not know the Catholic Church to be the true Church, provided that person: 1. Has been validly baptized [this, incidentally, is a requirement relaxed even further and not insisted upon at all in official catechisms of the mid-1900s onward that are written in English]; 2. Firmly believes the religion he professes and practices to be the true religion, and 3. Dies without the guilt of mortal sin on his soul [ditto for this what has just been said regarding the requirement of a valid baptism]...
“Q. 512. How are such persons [those who don’t know the Catholic Church is the true Church] said to belong to the Church? A. Such persons are said to belong to the ‘soul of the church’; that is, they are really members of the Church without knowing it…” (A Catechism of Christian Doctrine, later known in this version as Baltimore Catechism No. 3, Questions 509, 510 & 512, pages 28 & 29. Published by Benziger Brothers, Inc., at New York City in, apparently, 1921, with the imprimatur of Abp. Patrick J. Hayes. PDF file of this book found online as of 4 May 2013 at http://www.u.arizona.edu/~aversa/baltimore_catechism.pdf. Emphasis & annotations added.)
+++ 129. The Proper Interpretation of ‘no Salvation +++
Outside the Church’ Proved Again from Two Doctors, Part 2
Nonetheless, such a theological opinion was never uttered in a particularly notorious way prior to the last millennium, and it was certainly never boldly, clearly & repeatedly taught prior to the last 250 years. And yet, we must add, it is leaders or teachers asserting this theological opinion with clearness & boldness during the past century that makes these readers feel cocksure in their contemptuous skepticism toward ‘no Salvation outside visible membership in the Church’.
After all, how could their copy of Baltimore Catechism No. 3 be wrong?
Or the traditional priest who leads their traditional parish?
Or the nun who catechized them as a child?
The point is, their confidence comes from bold and clear teaching of the last two or three hundred years --- and not from a tradition that goes back unbroken for 2000 years to Jesus & His Apostles, or which the Magisterium has both explicitly and infallibly taught at any point in time since then.
Find this difficult to believe, my dear reader?
Then we reach back to Chapter 56 in this book to see hard proof for our position and most devastating evidence against those who are contemptuous. For as St. Alphonsus Liguori --- an official doctor of the Church --- assured us in the 1700s:
“Still we answer the Semi-Pelagians [a type of heretic during the 1st millennium], and say that infidels [people without the Catholic Faith] who arrive at the use of reason [are no longer small children and old enough to start thinking for themselves], and are not converted to the [Catholic] Faith, cannot be excused, because though they do not receive sufficient proximate grace [grace that is all around you and obvious, such as what people raised in good Catholic countries would have by virtue of the Catholic testimony all around them], still they are not deprived of remote grace, as a means of becoming converted. But what is this remote grace? St. Thomas [Aquinas] explains it, when he says that if anyone was brought up in the wilds, or even among brute beasts, and if he followed the law of natural reason, to desire what is good, and to avoid what is wicked, we should certainly believe either that God, by an internal inspiration [an inspiration of the heart or mind], would reveal to him what he should believe, or would send someone to preach the [Catholic] Faith to him, as [just like] he sent Peter [the first pope] to Cornelius [a Roman commander first converted to the Old Testament Religion before becoming a Catholic --- see Acts 10 in the Bible]. Thus, then, according to the Angelic Doctor [St. Thomas Aquinas, see the very next quote below], God, at least remotely, gives to infidels [those who aren’t Catholic], who have the use of reason, sufficient grace to obtain salvation [to become Catholic and die in the state of grace], and this grace consists in a certain instruction of the mind, and in a movement of the will, to observe the natural law [the basic law of religion & morality that God places in every person’s heart who has the use of reason and whether or not he’s Catholic to start with]; and if the infidel cooperates with this movement, observing the precepts of the law of nature, and abstaining from grievous sins, he will certainly receive, through the merits of Jesus Christ, the grace proximately sufficient to embrace the [Catholic] Faith, and [thus] save his soul.” (St. Alphonsus Liguori’s The History of Heresies, Refutation 6, No. 11. All emphasis & annotations added.)
And as the greatest of all Church doctors, St. Thomas, testified to us all the way back in the AD 1200s --- St. Alphonsus Liguori himself referring to this Thomistic testimony in the quote above --- by first stating an objection and then giving the correct rebuttal to that objection:
“Objection: It is possible that someone may be brought up in the forest, or among wolves; such a man cannot explicitly know anything about the [Catholic] faith… Reply [the objection rebutted and answered correctly]: It is the characteristic of Divine Providence to provide every man with what is necessary for salvation… provided on his part there is no hindrance. In the case of a man who seeks good and shuns evil, by the leading of natural reason, God would either reveal to him through internal inspiration what had to be believed, or would send some preacher of the [Catholic] faith to him…” (St. Thomas Aquinas’ Quaestiones Disputatae de Veritate, Question 14, Article 11. Emphases & annotations added.)
Consequently, my dear reader, you see how neither Alphonsus nor Aquinas can be said to have taught or supported the heresy of ‘salvation-through-invincible-ignorance-and-sincerity’! Nor has the Solemn Magisterium of the Church ever upheld this religious lie. Many of our popes state what is plainly the opposite, one of whom in AD 1302 proclaimed infallibly:
“Urged by faith, we are obliged to believe and to maintain that the Church is one, holy, catholic, and also apostolic. We believe in her firmly and we confess with simplicity that outside of her there is neither salvation nor the remission of sins... Therefore, if the Greeks [Eastern Schismatics, who practice what is called ‘eastern orthodoxy’ in more recent times] or others should say that they are not confided to Peter and to his successors [that they are not subject to the Roman Papacy], they must confess not being the sheep of Christ [admit that they aren’t truly Christians since they aren’t truly followers of Christ], since Our Lord says in John ‘there is one sheepfold and one shepherd.’ ...Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.” (Pope Boniface VIII’s Unam sanctum, emphasis & annotation added)
+++ 130. Why, Then, Does Everyone Today Assume the +++
Church Teaches ‘Salvation-Through-Ignorance-&-Sincerity’?
Why, then, does everyone nowadays assume the Church teaches ‘salvation-in-the-state-of-invincible-ignorance-and-sincerity’… including people who look Roman Catholic due to their being so very traditional about everything else that is Catholic, aside from the dispute over how a man saves his immortal soul?
Most people calling themselves ‘catholic’ today, during the Great Apostasy, could not care less that there’s no Salvation outside the Church. They aren’t traditional or even conservative. Thus, they believe there is Salvation for anyone apart from being Catholic (indeed, they may think there’s no threat in the first place from which someone needs to be ‘saved’!), and it bothers them not in the least if they find out Catholics never believed this religious lie prior to modern times.
However, people calling themselves ‘catholic’ today, during the Great Apostasy, who are traditional or learned, know very well the Church has never taught that anyone of sound mind can save his soul apart from being a freely conscious and visible member of the Catholic Body of Jesus Christ. They also know that they claim to believe everything this Catholic Church teaches.
How are they to solve such a dilemma, reconciling ‘no Salvation outside the Catholic Church’ in its ancient and correct sense with ‘salvation for those who don’t know or believe that the Catholic Church is the only way to save your immortal soul’?
It is as we said in Chapter 127 just four pages earlier:
Learned or traditional people going by the name of ‘catholic’ stretch the notion of an ‘implicit desire for baptism’ beyond its original orthodox limits and now apply it to adults of sound mind who don’t even know about the Catholic Faith. Or who, knowing Roman Catholicism exists, don’t think Catholicism is true. Such persons, say they, are Catholic without knowing it.
Problem apparently solved.
And yet it is not.
Because this ‘solution’ doesn’t merely ‘build’ on the Salvation Dogma, making it even more clear and better understood, but, rather, denies the original understanding of the Salvation Dogma altogether.
The idea of ‘salvation-in-the-state-of-invincible-ignorance-and-sincerity’ via a heretically twisted application of a supposed ‘implicit desire for baptism’ does not simply build on the original understanding of the dogma of ‘no Salvation outside the Catholic Church’, but, to the contrary, starkly denies and bluntly contradicts this original understanding altogether!
End of sentence.
What’s more, this teaching of the original, strict, narrow & ancient understanding of ‘no Salvation outside the Church’ has nothing at all to do with being a ‘Feeneyite’. The Salvation Dogma stands or falls apart from Fr. Leonard Feeney, who lived and taught up until the middle of the 20th century. Fr. Feeney, at least thus far, is no official saint or doctor of the Catholic Church. Nor was he a Sovereign Pontiff with papal power to define infallibly. Hence, the Salvation Dogma in its unchanging sense does not depend on him or his teaching of it.
Consequently, calling someone a ‘Feeneyite’ because he upholds ‘no Salvation outside the Church’ in its plain and original sense is a red herring. It is pretending someone is a heretic for professing a simple dogma that the Catholic Church has infallibly taught us since the very beginning with Jesus & His Apostles during the first century nearly 2000 years ago.
Yet a ‘heresy’ by whose standards?
The Church’s original and ancient teaching, or a modernist’s reinterpretation of it?
It doesn’t take a brainiac to see the truth. Salvation heresy is heresy because it contradicts the original and ancient teaching of ‘no Salvation outside the Church’ by pretending that ignorance can not only always safeguard you from guilt for the mortal sin of not believing in God’s One & Only Religion of Roman Catholicism, but, in tandem with a supposed ‘sincerity’ for false religion, will instead often propel these unbelievers into an invisible ‘membership of the soul’ in the Singular Catholic Body of Jesus Christ which no one --- including a person of sound mind who is supposedly an unwitting ‘member’ of this Church Body --- knows anything about.
It’s like being made a ‘citizen’ of the United States as a grown adult of sound mind without knowing you’re an American citizen and despite being born of foreign parents, not to mention living your whole life halfway around the world, in the Himalayas as a citizen of Tibet.
Could anyone believe such a
person is a ‘citizen’ of the
Of course not.
+++ 131. Because It’s the Spirit of Our Era +++
Yet what about our question, which is part of the title of the previous chapter?
I.e., why is it everyone nowadays going by the name of ‘catholic’ assumes the Church to teach the religious lie of ‘salvation-in-the-state-of-invincible-ignorance-and-sincerity’ without having to become a visible member of the One, Holy, Roman, Catholic & Apostolic Church?
Because it’s the spirit of the age --- the Spirit of Modernism --- and fewer
and fewer people paid attention when leaders of the Church spoke up against
salvation heresy. Then, coming closer and closer to our times, the leaders
themselves spoke less and less about this heresy or spoke in terms that were
increasingly vague and confusing. Indeed, as the 20th century
dawned, some --- and later most --- of these leaders openly advocated salvation via ignorance without
any real consequences to their own selves, such as censure from higher
authority. With the 1960s and the Vatican II Council, this falsehood was publicly
enshrined under the guise of an ‘official teaching’ of the
Church, an ‘official
teaching’ that most certainly could not be truly
‘official’ since this new and novel Vatican II teaching did not
merely ‘build’ upon the ancient teaching concerning the necessity
of visible membership in the Roman Catholic Church for salvation, but
which, instead, denied the need for visible membership altogether!
Most if not all of the hierarchy then fell like stars from the heavens by
formally, publically and repeatedly approving this heresy, suffering automatic
excommunication under Canon Law from the Catholic Church. In so doing they
lay Jesus’ Ecclesial Body in the tomb just like the hierarchy of the
+++ 132. And How This Spirit Affects People Who Still +++
Continue to Call Themselves ‘Catholic’
Some people calling themselves Catholic nowadays have this Spirit of Modernism very egregiously, and think just about everyone goes to Heaven whether or not they’re Roman Catholic --- or think that there’s no Hell, and thus no threat of going to Hell, to begin with. They also do not believe or practice very much that still looks and sounds like it’s actually Catholic.
Such people are Liberal Novus Ordoists.
(LNOs for short, ‘novus ordo’ Latin for the ‘new order’ or ‘new way’ of their religion.)
Other persons calling themselves Catholic today have this Spirit of Modernism but not as egregiously, looking and sounding a lot more like what Roman Catholics have always looked and sounded like. They think not everyone goes to Heaven --- and admit that Hell exists --- yet often speculating that many, if not most, human beings save their souls visibly outside the Church, not knowing that they’re ‘catholic’ and hence ‘invisibly’ connected to the Church.
Such persons are Conservative Novus Ordoists.
(CNOs for short.)
Yet others calling themselves Catholic during our time of the Great Apostasy have this Spirit of Modernism but much less so, still believing and practicing most of what Roman Catholics have always believed and practiced, particularly the ancient Latin Mass. Howsobeit, they very often think just like CNOs when it comes to who ends up in Heaven without actually being Catholic, although the most cautious of them admit that hardly anyone who is not Catholic is likely to avoid damnation entirely with all of the wickedness & rebellion of our present era.
Such individuals are Traditional Novus Ordoists.
(TNOs for short.)
This is the full spectrum of the spirit of our age as it applies to ‘catholicism’, that is to say, how Modernism has infected those who still want to think of themselves as ‘catholic’.
But let us continue with our consideration of BOD vs. WO.
+ + +
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 Four of Baptismal Confusion (Chapters 83-105)
Part Six of Baptismal Confusion (Chapters 133-169)
Part Seven of Baptismal Confusion (Chapters 170-186)
+ + +
Pilate’s query met:
if you’ve come to this webpage directly from a search
engine or other website, then, when done viewing this webpage
--- and assuming you wish to view more of this website’s pages ---
please type the website’s address (as given above right before this
note) into the address bar at the top of your browser and hit the
‘enter’ button on the keyboard of your computer.
Please go here about use of the writings
on this website.
© 2015 by Paul Doughton.
All rights reserved.