+++ 170. Turning to the Conclusion +++
Dear soul, we are now ready to tie things up and weave all of the earlier threads in this book into a complete and harmonious whole.
Which doesn’t mean ---- with my apologies to the impatient, baffled or overwhelmed reader --- that the final conclusion is just a page or two away. To the contrary, many more words must be perused to reach the very end.
However, compared to the number of chapters already finished, the end is near.
Yet can you fault someone for the length?
This controversy has been millennia in the making, generating assumptions that masquerade as ‘facts’ while misleading into error. Will any reasonable person who cares about the truth… or who cares about the fate of others who do not know of this truth… pretend it can be totally explained and summed up adequately in just a few pages?
Not if you’re intelligent & honest --- and really do care about the saving truth, and about the spiritual welfare of other people when it comes to eternity.
What’s more, I am not a priest with religious jurisdiction or spiritual authority in the Church. I cannot pontificate or command. I am merely a layman who loves theology and wants to help others understand. How, then, could I pretend to proclaim from on high in a brief statement and expect everyone else to throw up their hands in surrender and agree with me about a subject that has seen previous men, far greater than I, take varying positions in their often contradictory opinions?
The topic of water baptism is fraught with ignorance & confusion.
The intelligent & honest man will hence take his time to study it carefully, think it through thoroughly, and make a decision --- refraining from judgment for as long as he’s uncertain --- only after he comprehends all of the logical and factual arguments from both sides, cautious to stay within the bounds of a simple & clear orthodoxy.
+++ 171. The 1917 Code of Canon Law +++
That said, let us toss one more ‘baptism of desire’ (BOD) argument into the ring.
Specifically, the 1917 Code of Canon Law argument.
But why have I waited till now, near the conclusion, to grapple with this point?
Because it is, perhaps, the weakest argument made on behalf of BOD. For while arguments from Sacred Scripture are the least impressive as a category, the argument from Canon Law --- all by its lonesome self without a category of many separate & individual canons claimed to uphold BOD, and hence hardly any similar arguments with which it may be grouped --- is, truly, the most ineffectual and least convincing of all BOD arguments for the cautious inquirer.
(Strictly speaking, and to be utterly accurate, there is one other canon in the 1917 Code of Canon Law, of which I am aware, that does also obliquely refer to BOD. Namely, the very first section of Canon 737. This canon deals with the Holy Sacrament of Baptism and uses the --- by now --- classic formula of “…in re vel saltem in voto…”, a phrase meaning “…in reality or at least in resolution…”, when referring to water baptism’s necessity, the word “voto” again constantly mangled as the poorly translated “desire” in English. See Chapter 6 in this book, Baptismal Confusion, if you’ve forgotten why the word “desire” is a rather incompetent and misleading translation of the Latin “voto”, or are a very impatient and proudly ignorant person who merely ‘skims’ or ‘cherry picks’ through a long writing without carefully noting a seemingly ‘small’ yet very, very, very crucial point like this about an eternally fateful subject such as water baptism.)
Indeed, upon ruthless and meticulous reflection, Church’s Canon Law turns out to be a surprisingly strong argument on behalf of the opposing side, ‘water only’ (WO)!
The staunch BOD proponent is usually more well-informed than the run-of-the-mill person going by the name of ‘catholic’ nowadays. Be he traditionalist --- i.e., either a real Catholic or else a Traditional Novus Ordoist (a TNO for short, please see Chapter 132 in this book for details) --- then he will often be familiar with the last official version of the Church’s Canon Law. In this case, the 1917 Code of Canon Law, since the 1983 version came out well after Vatican II and the eruption of the Great Apostasy into our contemporary world of unbelief and neo-paganism, not having true hierarchical authority behind it.
And what do we find in this 1917 Code of Canon Law?
That unbaptized catechumens are allowed to be buried in a consecrated cemetery.
That unbaptized catechumens --- those souls who are not actually visibly joined to the Very Visible Catholic Body of Jesus Christ via the very visible laver of regeneration as applied to their earthly, and thus visible, flesh --- are now sometimes permitted to be buried, should they happen to die ‘accidentally’ before they finish their catechesis and receive the visible sacramental water, in a consecrated cemetery reserved solely for the corpses of those souls who are actually, physically & visibly joined in water baptism to the Roman Catholic Church.
For it says in Canon 1239:
“Unbaptized persons may not receive ecclesiastical burial, with the exception of catechumens who, through no fault of theirs [through no fault of their own since it’s an ‘accidental’ death], die without having received baptism, and are therefore to be regarded as among those baptized.” (1917 Code of Canon Law, Canon 1239. All emphasis & annotation added.)
“See!” exults a BODer. “There it is. Right in the Church’s law. A catechumen is sometimes allowed burial in a Catholic cemetery without water baptism. It’s a done deal. The Hierarchy from the highest point of authority is officially favoring the ‘baptism of desire’ opinion over the ‘water only’ opinion --- the Bishop of Rome has ruled. A Pope is infallible and hence the argument ought to be over with… BOD wins!”
+++ 172. Why Canon Law CANNOT Automatically +++
Win the Argument for BOD (1st Problem, Part 1 ---
When Is a Pope Being Infallible?)
Except that it doesn’t.
Well, my dear reader, do you remember what we learned in Chapters 22, 52 & 84 of this very book, Baptismal Confusion, regarding the Charism of Infallibility as exercised by a true & legitimate Roman Pontiff?
Assuming, of course, you bother reading this book at all, cautiously and intelligently, without ‘skimming’ and ‘randomly perusing’ here-and-there. As if ‘skimming’ and ‘randomly perusing’ are adequate, patient, sincere & smart, making a person properly informed about a religious subject that is --- oh, I don’t know --- shall we say utterly vital to one’s eternal fate?
You’ll pardon the sardonic riposte.
But in my experience, people during the Great Apostasy are very little concerned about religion, believing whatever they please… as if ‘whatever-they-please’ is enough to make false into true and true into false, the actual truth about religion of little consequence to them in this life.
It is also my experience that people during the Great Apostasy showing concern about religion (and however tiny few these may be in comparison to the rest of the world’s vast population) --- maybe they’re quite traditional and call themselves ‘catholic’ --- still like believing whatever they please… and even if ‘whatever-they-please’ is only a ‘tiny thing’, just ‘one little belief’ compared to everything else and the other teachings they seem to get right, the actual truth, notwithstanding, of this ‘one little thing’ of little consequence to them in this life.
Whichever, DAMNABLE SCHISM OR HERESY occur.
In all likelihood you irrationally hate the statement above; notwithstanding, your personal preference in the matter is irrelevant. The truth is the truth regardless of whatever it is you want to believe is true before you bother to get up off your hind quarters and take the time (and intelligence) to look carefully, thinking it through fully and humbly acknowledging what you find, based on evidence & logic, is actually true.
With this sober warning, dearest one, please take heed.
Don’t be an arrogant & ignorant rebel and so destroy your precious soul.
Because God’s Singular & Infallible Catholic Church teaches us about the Papacy:
“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
St. Peter’s throne], 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]…” (Pope Pius IX’s
Pastor aeternus, issued by the Vatican Council
during Session 4 in AD 1870, Chapter 4, Paragraph 9. As found in Dogmatic Canons and Decrees: Authorized Translations
of the Dogmatic Decrees of the Council of Trent, the Decree of the Immaculate
Conception, the Syllabus of Pope Pius IX, and the Decrees of the Vatican
Council. Originally published by Devon-Adair Co. in
And what does this infallible proclamation mean?
As stated before, but put here more briefly:
1.) ONLY A POPE is infallible. Absolutely nobody else can speak ‘for the pope’, in his name, as if such statements make non-papal persons ‘infallible’ as well, or as if the pope can ‘delegate’ the Charism of Infallibility to someone under his papal authority in the Vatican, or etc., etc.
2.) Infallibility concerns SOLELY FAITH & MORALS. Absolutely no other subject guarantees a pope infallibility, such as liturgy, discipline, canonization, civil rules, administrative decisions or so forth that do not directly involve the matters of dogmatic or ethical teachings.
3.) A pope teaches infallibly ONLY THE
4.) Infallibility must CLARIFY. Either a pope must go further in defining --- without contradicting --- what has been taught infallibly earlier, or else he must condemn --- without contradicting earlier infallible teaching --- something taught merely fallibly before.
+++ 173. Why Canon Law CANNOT Automatically +++
Win the Argument for BOD (1st Problem, Part 2 ---
Papal Infallibility vs. Papal Authority)
Now, what has this to do with canon law? Very simple.
It is a Pope who promulgates canon law to the Church in general, if only via his delegated authority… that is, to a person or persons he sanctions to act in his name & authority, on behalf of his responsibilities to lead, govern and protect Jesus’ One & Only Roman Catholic Body.
This delegated authority is particularly applicable in the eastern part of the Catholic Church, with all of its different ancient rites, with a Pope --- who is the Primate of the West and not simply the Bishop of Rome or a Pope with universal jurisdiction --- not normally an expert in all the arcane yet important rules of multiple centuries accumulated over history in parts of the Church far, far from his own culture or not following his own Latin Rite in the West. Even in the western region of the Church, as Primate of the West, no Pope is required to be an expert in canon law in order to be a Pope. (He might be an expert in canon law from training, but it’s not a requirement for him to be a Pope in the first place.) Ergo, if canon law is being organized (as it was in the early 2nd millennium) or systematized and re-written altogether (as it was at the beginning of the 20th century), no Pope is necessarily going to… or even be able to… examine every single point and aspect of a long, complex & comprehensive canon law, understanding it fully, let alone officially issue canon law as if it’s coming from his own private person, in the entirety of its text, as the singular & sole source of all that a collection of canon law says, in every individual word.
Do you savvy?
The reasoning is ironclad.
In recent centuries at least, there is not one single body (collection) of canon law in the Most Holy Roman Catholic Church that has been promulgated by a Pope while invoking his wholly unique & divinely-bestowed Charism of Infallibility.
Yes, Church’s canon law normally comes with a pope’s approval (although this is not always the case, there being situations where a bishop with local diocesan jurisdiction can enact canon laws within his diocese that are not necessarily applicable to another diocese, as well as the example already given, wherein certain regions of the East use their own venerable & ancient rites, requiring, therefore, their own unique variations of a collection of canon law).
Howsobeit, no collection of canon law has ever come, as of yet --- at least in the last few centuries --- in its entirety, in every single individual word, from the private person of a pope. Consequently, canon law --- whatever the version or its region of applicability (remember the variant version, or versions, of canon law for the several rites of eastern Roman Catholics since most ancient times) --- by this criterion alone cannot be an act of the Charism of Infallibility.
Wherever a canon in the body of canon law impinges directly on a matter of faith or morals… and correctly expresses the infallible teaching of the Catholic Church in this particular matter… then, yes, that canon is transmitting the infallible truth concerning a matter of faith or morals.
But an act of papal infallibility in & of itself, overall, for all of the canons?
Because a pope has not yet promulgated any body of canon law from himself --- at least in more recent times --- as if it were his own private person expressing and communicating each and every single word in this body of canon law. It is thus not a pope exercising his charism of infallibility; rather, it is a pope making use of his supreme authority.
The former (charism of infallibility) invokes the Holy Ghost, the Third Person of God divinely preventing him (a pope) from explicitly teaching something concerning faith or morals that is indisputably an error. Acts of papal infallibility are therefore, whilst clearly possible, never always (nor even commonly!) the case in most of a pope’s everyday words, public sermons, writings of a casual or formal nature (including encyclicals!), or any kind of communication, whether open or private. Meanwhile, the latter (supreme authority) invokes his utterly unique office of universal jurisdiction, which, albeit flabbergastingly powerful and very awe-inspiring, is still dependent upon that particular pope’s intelligence (his mind) and goal or intent (his will).
Put another way:
You could have a dim-witted & good pope. Such a man might intend to use his supreme authority to make wise laws and holy decisions, while nonetheless ending up making lots of foolish laws and unholy decisions due to his lack of intelligence.
Or you could have an unlearned & good pope. Such a man might also intend to use his supreme authority to make wise laws and holy decisions, while nonetheless winding up making lots of foolish laws and unholy decisions due to his lack of training.
Or you could have a smart & evil pope. Such a man might intend to use his supreme authority to make hideous (perhaps cleverly and subtly so) laws and wicked decisions (ditto the previous parenthetical observation), and succeed greatly due to his cunning iniquity.
The point is, a body of canon law --- any collection of canon law, no matter where in the world it applies and at least in more recent centuries --- has never been an act of infallibility since it has never yet come solely from the private person of a pope in each and every word, despite his supreme & official approval, or regardless of his learning and holiness… or lack thereof.
+++ 174. Why Canon Law CANNOT Automatically +++
Win the Argument for BOD (1st Problem, Part 3 ---
Canon Law Is Different for Different Areas &
Rites Around the World)
Yet the subject of canon law gets even more complex and more crucial.
Because a body of canon law has never yet in all of history, to my knowledge, applied in its fullness to every single Catholic, in every single place in the world, all over the earth. This is because various versions of canon law must apply, at the same time, to DIFFERENT RITES AND DIFFERENT REGIONS ACROSS THE WORLD. As a result (and as far as I can tell thus far) no complete and entire body of canon law has ever been an act of papal infallibility since it’s never been promulgated to the whole and entire Roman Catholic Church.
You want proof?
Let us quote from an eminent priestly authority who wrote a scholarly & expert commentary (with the proper ‘nihil obstat’ and ‘imprimatur’ granted by his bishop, of course) on what was then, in 1918, the ‘new’ Canon Law of the Catholic Church put forth by Pope Benedict XV (not to be confused with the recent, and, as I write, still living Antipope Benedict XVI --- note the contrast between XV and XVI!) the previous year, 1917, and enacted on 19 May 1918:
It is stated in the first Canon of the Code that its laws are obligatory
[necessary to obey] ONLY FOR CATHOLICS
OF THE LATIN [Western] RITE, except in those points which of their
very nature [they are truly universal in their importance] affect also the
Oriental [Eastern or ‘Greek’ Catholic] Church. This ruling [that not everyone in the Catholic Church is obliged
to obey every canon in the 1917 Code of Canon Law being explained in
this priest’s learned commentary] is NOT NEW, it has obtained for
many centuries [been around since ancient times]. On account of the great difference in
manners and customs between the peoples of the East [areas east
of Rome and Italy] and those of Europe [that is, those Catholics who
live in the West, being the region west of Rome and Italy], and
of countries christianized [converted to Catholicism]
by missionaries of the Latin [Western] Rite, the Holy See [the Bishop of
Rome and those in the Vatican who rule via the Pope’s delegated
authority] WISELY MODIFIES for the Oriental Church [Catholics in
the various rites of the East of the Church] SOME LAWS [canons]
in accordance with requirements [what these various kinds of eastern
Catholics need for their daily religious lives in their particular
culture or land]. A special Congregation for the Orientals has
been established at
Are you getting it, my dear reader?
A scholarly & expert priest writes plainly and clearly, in his commentary on the very first canon of 2414 canons altogether in the ‘new’ (at the time) 1917 Code of Canon Law, that the Pope of that time (Benedict the Fifteenth) and his Vatican are explicitly NOT requiring all Catholics everywhere in the world to be bound by every single canon in this Code of Canon Law.
And why would this be?
Because different Catholics in different rites in different regions of the Church throughout the world CANNOT be governed or covered correctly --- and thus rightly --- by one single body (collection) of canon law, despite this law’s utmost urgency and having been promulgated by the Supreme Authority of the Roman Catholic Church.
End of sentence.
What’s more, this expert priest and his learned commentary on Canon 1 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law (the very first of 2414 canons altogether!) was officially examined and sanctioned legally to publish his scholarly commentary (which commentary was made to give priests in the Latin Rite a handy and quick reference for acting in obedience to the ‘new’ Canon Law) by NOT merely one but, indeed, two authorities in the Church, both his Franciscan superior (Fr. Blecke) and his Archepiscopal superior (Cd. Farley) granting him their respective imprimaturs.
And why is this logical point imperative to understand?
Because the Vatican Council in 1870 obviously & infallibly stated, with Pope Pius IX’s official approval, that Papal Infallibility --- when actually in operation and being exercised by a pope with something he puts forth --- must be teaching “ALL Christians…” (Ibid., emphases added) Viz., every single member of the Roman Catholic Church in the world everywhere, and NOT just some Catholics in one region, or several parts, of the world.
+++ 175. Why Canon Law CANNOT Automatically +++
Win the Argument for BOD (1st Problem, Part 4 ---
Canon Law Is Not Just About Faith or Morals,
and Is Primarily to Govern, Not Teach)
But do you need still more convincing?
A body (collection) of canon law does not ever directly grapple with or govern solely matters of faith or morals, being a body of laws about many other things, too.
Canon law covers all kinds of subjects and all manner of situations that --- while often indirectly connected to questions of faith and morals --- are not, all by itself and directly, only grappling with a dogmatic or ethical issue. (E.g., canon law in the West has not allowed a priest, since ancient times and in a typical situation, to have a wife. Whereas bodies of canon law from the East have allowed priests… but not bishops!... to be married and exercise conjugal privileges. Perspicuously speaking, then, whilst indirectly linked to morals, priestly matrimony alone --- clergymen having or not having wives --- cannot be a divine law that is forever immutable. Pragmatic & disciplinary considerations enter the equation here, not just faith or morals.)
Ergo, a body of canon law --- in its entirety --- cannot be an act of papal infallibility since it certainly does not deal with things alone “regarding faith or morals” (Ibid.), as the Vatican Council infallibly put it. Therefore, too, for some single canon in a body of canon law (as opposed to all of the canons in a collection of canon law) to be infallible, it would have to directly & explicitly address a matter that is indisputably & directly about faith or morals.
Bringing us to the final point in this problem with ‘BOD-in-canon-law’ argument.
Namely, that no collection of canon law or individual canon purports in any way at all to define, and thus clarify, some aspect of faith or morals, whether positively or negatively. That is to say, a pope, or other jurisdictional bishop in his local diocese, gives us a collection of rules (canon law) primarily to govern --- and not for teaching dogma.
Wherefore no canon --- in whatever body of canon law, for the last several centuries at an absolute minimum --- attempts to explain dogmatic or ethical teachings beyond what has been explained prior to a specific canon, or tries to condemn teachings of this nature beyond what has been circumscribed prior to that specific canon. Thus, to my knowledge, no collection of canon law can be put forth, at least in recent centuries, as an example of papal teaching about faith or morals that goes beyond what the Roman Catholic Church and Her Visible Heads may have infallibly taught about faith or morals previously.
And, were that not enough, in the second millennium at least, popes have always been exceedingly cautious to use very explicit (and, by the 2nd millennium, very traditional) language in order to make sure that everyone hearing of their teaching, who is supposed to be Catholic, knows without doubt that this pope is defining, and hence, clarifying, Catholic dogma.
Does any single canon in the 1917 Code of Canon Law do this?
Not to my knowledge.
The inescapably logical conclusion, then?
It is as we have said in the previous paragraphs:
The ‘BOD-is-in-canon-law’ argument fails the test of papal infallibility in each of the four criteria proclaimed infallibly at the Vatican Council held from 1869 until 1870 (and infallible because Pope Pius IX officially affirmed them!) when pondered carefully & rigorously.
At a bare minimum, throughout all Church history, no collection of canon law can be cited as supposedly ‘infallible proof’ of the ‘baptism of desire’ position since later bodies of canon law automatically fail to satisfy at least the third criterion of infallibility as infallibly taught by the Vatican Council via Pope Pius IX in 1870 (to wit, a collection of canon law is never being promulgated to the entire Church all over the world!), and since, previous to the second millennium, a pope has never upheld BOD in canon law during the first millennium.
BOD being supported in a mere two canons of the 1917 Code of Canon Law is not --- repeat, NOT! --- an act of papal infallibility and thus invoking the divine protection of the Holy Ghost by preventing him from teaching something that is theologically erroneous.
+++ 176. Why Canon Law CANNOT Automatically +++
Win the Argument for BOD (2nd Problem, Part 1 --- You
Can Respectfully Disagree With a Fallible Notion
Just as Long as You Stay True to Dogma!)
So, now that we’ve established that the Church’s 1917 Code of Canon Law is not something infallible (however important and wise it might be otherwise!), is there any reason we should, or even ‘must’, take Canon 1239 (the canon that says an unbaptized catechumen can be buried in hallowed ground… to wit, a cemetery consecrated by the Church’s priests for truly Catholic people alone to lay their mortal bodies, provided they died in good standing without public scandal of sin) or, for that matter, Canon 737, as strong evidence for ‘baptism of desire’?
Well, dear soul, do you remember Chapter 59?
That is to say, where we were discussing the evidence for BOD when it comes to the many and various fathers, saints & doctors of the Roman Catholic Church?
Specifically, where we encountered what I like to call The Four A’s --- Ss. Ambrose, Augustine, Aquinas and Alphonsus? The latter, Alphonsus Liguori, BODers often cite as strong evidence for ‘baptism of desire’ since he not only speaks in its favor (though only in its orthodox sense, never supporting modernism and espousing salvation heresy!), but also refers to the Council of Trent as if what the many bishops at this council said regarding the Sacrament of Baptism (or, cautiously speaking, regarding how the water of the Sacrament of Baptism relates to ‘justification’ of a human soul) is an ‘explicitly’ infallible proof for BOD.
This particular idea --- that
But since I’m a nobody in this world, we did not leave it there.
For, while the evidence is indeed clear and the logic indeed solid, who am I?
Why should anyone believe me, however logical and solid my points?
And, so, in Chapter 51 we grappled with it head on.
obviously implies the Tridentine Council explicitly
taught ‘baptism of desire’, whereas I have dared to say,
“Hold on. Alphonsus was a very great and holy
saint. But infallible? Especially when it comes
to something that is merely a human opinion about what the Council of
Trent taught… and clearly is
something the Council of
But again, who am I?
Therefore, in Chapter 59 of Baptismal Confusion we brought out the big gun, the very thing people of a more conservative or traditional nature --- who claim to be Catholic, and whether or not they really are what they say they are --- go gaga over:
Oh, but even better than that… a preeminent German theologian of the mid-twentieth century so revered and so respected that TNOs (Traditional Novus Ordoists) practically fall all over themselves in their mad rush to crowd around his altar, venerating his every word:
Dr. Ludwig Ott!
Famous for his masterwork, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, as re-published by TAN Books and Publishers, Inc., in 1974 in the United States, and earlier published in a fourth edition by The Mercier Press in Ireland in 1960 (as well as its original German edition printed by Verlag Herder in 1952 under the title, Grundriss der Katholischen Dogmatik), we pointed out how, in carefully distinguishing theological categories of certainty, Dr. Ott notes the certainty of the teaching of water baptism’s necessity as (appropriately quiet yet dramatic musical build-up cued here):
Which, as we explained earlier, is a kind of theological shorthand for the Latin phrase “de fide definita” --- that is, something the Catholic Church has propounded to us as infallibly certain… and thus most certainly is, by definition (pun almost intended), beyond any doubt lest you lose your Roman Catholicity (assuming you actually had it in the first place).
Ah, but what did our great & eminent 20th century theologian, Dr. Ludwig Ott, have to say about the certainty of the teaching called ‘baptism of desire’? That is to say, if, for some reason, the sacramental water is ‘unavailable’? He wrote (drum roll, please, for maximum effect):
“(Sent. fidei prox.)”
Which is, as we also explained earlier, a theological abbreviation for the full Latin phrase ‘sententia fidei proxima’ --- that is, something the Catholic Church has not yet propounded to us as ‘infallibly certain’ (assuming it ever will do so)… and thus most certainly is, by a lack of definition (okay, pun pretty much intended here), safe to doubt since it’s NOT defined, provided you have orthodox & intelligent reasons, as well as a justified cause (in other words, you’re not just shooting off a haughty mouth because you’re too impatient or ignorant to know better).
As Dr. Ott helpfully describes the idea of ‘sententia fidei proxima’:
“A Teaching proximate to Faith… is a doctrine, which is regarded by theologians generally as a truth of Revelation, but which has not yet been finally promulgated as such by the Church.”
In stark contrast, he says about “de fide definita”:
“The highest degree of certainty appertains [is connected] to the immediately revealed truths… and if the Church, through its teaching, vouches for the fact that a truth is contained in Revelation [something God reveals to us from Heaven that is absolutely necessary for our Salvation], one’s certainty is then also based on the authority of the Infallible Teaching Authority of the Church… If truths are DEFINED BY A SOLEMN JUDGMENT OF FAITH (definition) of the Pope or of a General Council, they are ‘de fide definita’.”
(Publishing information as stated ten paragraphs above, with the five quotes from Pages 356, 356, 9, 9 & 9, respectively, of the TAN Books paperback edition. The ‘nihil obstat’ for the Irish printing of the English translation was given on 7 October 1954 by Jeremiah J. O’Sullivan, D.D., who was the Censor Deputatus, and the ‘imprimatur’ by Cornelius, Ep. Corgagiensis et Ap. Adm. Rossensis on the same date. All emphasis and annotations added, except for the parenthesized quotes, some of which are italic in the TAN printing.)
+++ 177. Why Canon Law CANNOT Automatically +++
Win the Argument for BOD (2nd Problem, Part 2 --- An
Acclaimed Theologian Proves the Canon’s Fallibility)
Are you getting it, my dear soul?
I may be a nobody… but Dr. Ludwig Ott was a big somebody, highly respected to this day by Traditional Novus Ordoists (TNOs), and considered to be a theologian, and seminary or university professor, of highest caliber back in the middle of the 20th century.
So how is it I dare to disagree with one of St. Alphonus’ theological opinions?
Because I have orthodox & intelligent reasons to do so (this book is proof of that), as well as justified cause (since I’m trying to clear up the terrible confusion surrounding the Sacrament of Baptism that persists till this very day). I take no pleasure in disagreeing with the great, holy & wise saint --- a doctor of the Church, to boot --- and would never recommend doing so as a normal and routine course of action for most Catholics most of the time. I.e., we are safer respectfully following a saint & doctor’s theological opinion the vast majority of the time.
Yet every single time? NO.
Because once in a long while they can be mistaken. Unless one of them is a Bishop of Rome exercising his Charism of Infallibility, then, by strict and logical definition, they are not infallible. Which in turn means they could be mistaken, however rarely.
Yet don’t take my word for it. Eminent theologian Dr. Ott has said so, too.
For, as you’ll recall from Chapter 59 of Baptismal Confusion, Dr. Ott directly referenced the Tridentine Council as his primary backing for the teaching of ‘baptism of desire’ (he was, after all, a theologian of his times and hence convinced the scholastic theologians of the early 2nd millennium were not mistaken about BOD). Notwithstanding, he gives to us the degree of certainty of BOD as ‘sententia fidei proxima’. That is, good ol’ BOD is a teaching that’s been around for awhile --- and we theologians nowadays like to think it’s true and hence proximate to dogma --- but, honestly, it’s not quite all the way there yet, and, consequently, not actually dogma and thus not really and truly infallibly certain.
So take Dr. Ludwig Ott’s word for it.
That is to say, if eminent theologians impress you.
In any case, this is proof that both he and lots of other theologians of his time, in the mid-twentieth century, dared to disagree with St. Alphonsus Liguori’s theological opinion that the Council of Trent had clearly and infallibly declared on behalf of the notion of BOD… and even though they very much agreed with Alphonsus that BOD was true, treating Trent as ‘proof’ for it (albeit tangential ‘proof’, lacking the terms or descriptions that would put it beyond doubt --- and thus not adequately clear --- which is why Trent cannot close the case with finality).
Which then means it’s hard proof, additionally, that neither Canons 737 nor 1239 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law made a difference to Ludwig Ott or other theologians mere decades after Benedict XV promulgated this Canon Law, causing them to think ‘baptism of desire’ was now more than ‘proximate’ to dogma, magically becoming an ‘infallible’ teaching just because two papally-approved canons obliquely reference BOD and use this theological theory to ‘justify’ burying the corpse of an unbaptized human in hallowed ground… and despite the fact this eminent German theologian clearly thought BOD was true while not infallibly so.
Do you comprehend, dear soul?
If eminent theologians impress you (and TNOs really do go gaga over Dr. Ludwig Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, so highly do they revere it and him, and so available has it been through the inexpensive TAN Books reprinting of the Irish edition that first translated the text from the German original), then the stark fact that a major theological textbook --- with both the appropriate ‘nihil obstat’ and an episcopal ‘imprimatur’ --- did not uphold BOD as ‘infallible’ is PROOF POSITIVE (with absoluteness of moral certainty!) that two canons out of a total 2414 canons overall in the 1917 Code of Canon Law, is in no way relevant to the fight over BOD vs. WO (apart from it being very weak evidence for the former) and, as a result, to be thought of as some kind of ‘infallible’ ruling from a pope that a so-called ‘baptism of desire’ (BOD) is beyond questioning and that real Roman Catholics are now ‘forbidden’ to hold the opposite and contrary theological opinion of ‘water only’ (WO).
For what did the imprimatured textbook of Dr. Ott call BOD?
Sententia fidei proxima.
To wit, he as much as said:
“All of us theologians nowadays think BOD is true, and agree that it is true… but, to be wholly honest, the Church via Her Pope has never yet explicitly and infallibly promulgated it as such, thereby leaving this theological idea as only ‘proximate’ or ‘near’ to dogma --- and hence, strictly speaking, NOT ACTUALLY TAUGHT BY THE CHURCH AS INFALLIBLY, UNQUESTIONABLY AND THEREFORE IRREFORMABLY TRUE!”
Or else why did eminent theologian Dr. Ott call BOD ‘sententia fidei proxima’ instead of ‘de fide definita’ and why did the proper Church authorities sanction the publication of his theological textbook that TNOs so adore?
End of interrogatory sentence.
And, oh yes, as I remarked in Chapter 60, please beware that Dr. Ott --- for all his learning or cleverness and correctness about lots of things --- was, like nearly everyone else at that time just before Vatican II and the Great Apostasy burst out into the open, a salvation heretic. (Please go here for a thorough & comprehensive explanation and defense of the infallible dogma, ‘no Salvation outside the Church’, in its ancient, original and strict sense, with both massive evidence and rigorous logic aplenty to back it up.)
Viz., he very much liked to think
that a human being with perfectly sound intelligence could be, somehow,
‘invincibly ignorant’ about the Roman Catholic Religion, thereby
dying ‘sincerely’ in the beliefs or practices of false
religion (read: any religion that is not Roman Catholic), and, via a
supposedly ‘implicit desire’ for water baptism (mangling the
orthodox meaning of this concept, by the way), become mysteriously &
unknowingly (and unknowable to everyone else, too!) ‘catholic’ through an ‘invisible’ link to
Again… don’t fall for this religious lie.
+++ 178. Why Canon Law CANNOT Automatically +++
Win the Argument for BOD (3rd Problem, Part 1 --- Do
Self-Styled ‘Catholics’ of a More Traditional Bent
Pay Attention to the Scholars They Esteem?
Yet we go on.
For there is a third devastating point against the ‘aha!-it’s-in-canon-law’ argument, a powerful point that drives home even further how Canons 737 or 1239 were in no way at all to be thought an ‘act of papal infallibility’, putting BOD beyond question and so ‘settling’ it for good.
Because do you remember Chapters 85 to 87 in Baptismal Confusion?
We considered the evidence from catechisms.
We especially took a hard look at the greatest of catechisms thus far… the wonderful and authoritative Catechism of the Council of Trent (also known as the Roman Catechism, or the Catechism of Pius V). And what did the scholarly prefacing commentary tell us about Roman Catholicism’s greatest catechism yet, scholarly commentary that the proper Church authorities sanctioned all the way back in the 1920s, finding nothing wrong in their scholarly assertions?
We read the most relevant parts:
“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… Doctor John Hagan [another of
those eminent and highly respected theologians from the 20th century],
the present Rector of the
We repeat the devastatingly pertinent part of the quote again:
teaching is NOT infallible [NOT every single word and teaching
found in the Catechism of the Council of
“Its teaching is NOT infallible…” (Ibid.)
Is it beginning to sink in, my dear & beloved reader?
As I’ve said elsewhere in this book, Baptismal Confusion, there’s a lot of nonsense and ignorance about what constitutes infallibility, about when a real & legitimate pope is actually exercising his charism of infallibility. Lots of people calling themselves Catholic think a pope is infallible in everything he says & does (the latter, what he ‘does’, not even being an exercise of infallibility, but, rather, the gift of ‘impeccability’ --- i.e., without any sin… which shows their ignorance all the more since the Church has never taught us that every pope is automatically without sin just because he’s a pope!). Others think his every sermon or writing is ‘infallible’. Plenty of them think catechisms, encyclicals, canonizations, martyrologies, and so forth and so on, are all of them, automatically and unquestionably and intrinsically, acts of ‘infallibility’. One wonders… do any of them actually use their God-given minds to examine meticulously what the Roman Catholic Church has really said, drawing true and correct conclusions?
As an eminent scholar tells us (almost as impressive as an eminent theologian):
(Lat. [Latin] promulgare,
to make known). The public announcement of a law, before which it is not
binding...” (A Catholic Dictionary
by Donald Attwater, general editor. Macmillan Company
published the 3rd edition in 1958 in New York City, with a ‘nihil obstat’ for the 2nd
edition and accompanying ‘imprimatur’ from Georgius
D. Smith, S.T.D., Ph.D., Censor Deputatus, and E. Morrogh Bernard, Vic. Gen., Westmonasterii,
respectively, on 10 May 1946, and the same for the 3rd edition from
Hubertus Richards, S.T.L., I.S.S., Censor Deputatus,
and Georgius L. Craven, Epus.
Sebastopolis, Vic. Cap. Westmon., Westmonasterii, repectively, on
January 30, 1957. 1st edition published by Cassell
& Co., Ltd., as The Catholic Encyclopaedic Dictionary in 1931 in the
“The public announcement of a law…” (Ibid.)
The same eminent scholar tells us:
“DECREE. An ordinance, edict or decision set forth by ecclesiastical authority. The decrees of a pope or of a general council are universally binding [meaning, under most circumstances, every Catholic is expected to obey such a decree]; those of a Roman congregation in a specific case are binding on those concerned, but not necessarily on others; those of a national or provincial synod must be approved by the Holy See before being put into force. The personal (as opposed to synodal) decrees of a bishop lapse with his death.” (Ibid., Page 138. Annotation added.)
We say once more:
“An ordinance, edict or decision set forth by ecclesiastical authority.”
And this eminent scholar says as well:
“INFALLIBILITY OF THE POPE… [The Vatican Council of 1870 is quoted at some length regarding papal infallibility] … Note that this infallibility refers only to teaching concerning faith or morals, and then only when the pope speaks officially as teacher addressing the whole Church with the intention of obliging its members to assent to his definition (and this intention must be manifest [must be made very plain & clear], though not necessarily expressed); that neither impeccability nor inspiration (q.q.v.) are claimed; that infallibility is personal to the pope and independent of the consent of the Church… Infallibility does not by any means do away with the necessity of study and learning [meaning that the pope himself must study and learn before defining faith or morals, that he CANNOT merely presume to teach about faith or morals while somehow ‘magically’ knowing without first doing the study and learning he needs to do in order to teach intelligently], but simply under certain conditions guarantees that the conclusions drawn from study and learning are free from error; the pope’s knowledge is not infused into him by God: he gains it [knowledge of faith or morals]just as does any other man, but he is assisted, watched over, by the Holy Spirit so that he does not use his authority and his knowledge to mislead the Church at the times and under the conditions stated above.” (Ibid., Pages 253 to 254. All emphasis & annotations added, except for the parenthetical “(q.q.v.)”, which is italicized in the published text.)
In other words, papal promulgations, decrees & etc., are NOT automatically infallible!
+++ 179. Why Canon Law CANNOT Automatically +++
Win the Argument for BOD (3rd Problem, Part 2 --- Papal
So How Is Promulgation of Canon Law an Exception?
Did you get that?
If you don’t believe me, dear soul, then believe the eminent scholar, Mr. Attwater. A pope cannot ‘automatically’ use his office’s charism of infallibility in absolutely everything he says and does. To the contrary, a pope teaches us infallibly “…only… under certain conditions…”, conditions the Vatican Council made infallibly clear --- by the infallible assent of he, Pope Pius IX, who promulgated, decreed & ordered this definition regarding a teaching of faith or morals way back in 1870. And these conditions that Pius IX and his Vatican Council put forth as an infallible definition of papal infallibility make it plain that a legitimate Bishop of Rome is NEVER ‘always’ and ‘automatically’ infallible with his every single papal word, deed, signature, promulgation, decree or etc., etc.! (Ibid., Page 254)
This is why we looked at eminent scholar Mr. Attwater’s explanations for promulgation & decrees before diving into an extended quote from his explanation for the infallibility of the papacy… so as to drive home the point that promulgations or decrees, or what-have-you, from a pope are official acts of his supreme authority, but not --- repeat, NOT! --- always and automatically acts of his singular & personal papal infallibility.
Now put your thinking cap on.
Use that intelligent mind that Our Creator gave you.
The unparalleled Council of Trent (that is, unparalleled as of yet, occurring from 1545 to 1563) first put forth the idea of a catechism in 1546, but originally envisioned it as a ‘simple’ catechism for ‘simple’ (that is, ‘unlearned’) members of the Church. Returning to the idea in 1563 --- many years later --- the Council then changed the plan to a catechism that would, instead, be learned, long & complex, giving every parish priest (who is supposed to be learned!) a reliable source from which priests could draw instructions for their much less learned, and non-priestly, flock.
Still following this?
Now if the Catholic Church’s greatest council so far, the Council of Trent, decreed this to be done, with the approval of the pope of that time, Pius IV, in 1563, and which, this pope agreed by the end of that same year, should be carried out under the direct authority of the pope himself in Rome since the council was ending, and therefore no longer overseeing the new catechism’s initial writing in Trent… then, beloved soul, with the approval, order, decree, promulgation or (put in your favorite ecclesiastical terminology here) of the very next pope, Pius V, during the year 1566, wherein the new catechism was officially published… would you then be very inclined to think, out of thin air, that this was an act of the Church’s --- and the Pope’s --- Charism of Infallibility, not knowing what various chapters in this book make plain?
Of course you would.
Most if not all traditional ‘catholics’ assume it is so.
Notwithstanding, we have seen the scholarly evidence that it is, in fact, not so! To wit:
Catechism of the Council of
Refer to the scholarly quotes above if you still don’t want to believe me.
Then, dear soul, be intelligent, honest and humble and admit that we’ve just seen the authoritative and academic proof for this ‘astonishing’ fact (for those who have not done adequate study, and are thus not adequately learned about this subject), and, hence, we can confidently know that ‘decrees’, ‘promulgations’, ‘papal orders’, ‘official announcements’, ‘ordinances’, ‘edicts’, ‘decisions’, ‘announcements’, and etc., etc. --- whatever the precise terms employed --- are NOT then, automatically, ‘infallible’ simply because they’re official or papal, and decreed, promulgated, ordered, decided, announced, signed, or what-have-you!
Neither ‘BOD’ canon is infallible; they’re laws not dogma; and they could be mistaken.
Again, there is a difference between a pope wielding his supreme authority and a pope exercising his charism of infallibility. How does this distinction apply to Canon Law? Easy --- because it is a pope who officially promulgates canon law for large sections of the Singular & True Church of Roman Catholicism. And so unlearned people… especially those who are proud or impatient in their religious ignorance… then presume, wrongly, without actual solid facts and proper learning, that the very act of papal promulgation --- all by itself --- is an exercise of ‘papal infallibility’, when it is, instead, an act of a pope’s supreme authority, and thus something that can never ever --- all by itself --- magically ‘end’ the battle of BOD vs. WO with finality.
(One last thing. The warning we gave about eminent German theologian, Dr. Ludwig Ott, goes for the esteemed British scholar, Mr. Donald Attwater, too. As far as I am able to tell, based on the evidence I have, Mr. Attwater was a heretic, clinging to the core falsehood of the Religion of Modernism --- the ‘salvation-in-the-state-of-invincible-ignorance-and-most-earnest-sincerity’ lie. I do not cite him because he’s completely safe when it comes to the teachings of the Church, but because he was so highly respected and, as a result, beyond questioning for TNOs or others of traditional bent, calling themselves ‘catholic’, while worshiping at the golden calf altar of a theological and scholarly ‘eminence’, ‘esteem’ or ‘brilliance’. Not that immense learning is negligible… no one carefully reading what I write can honestly suppose that I think that. Nevertheless, higher learning is ultimately no good without wisdom & orthodoxy.)
+++ 180. The Hierarchical Authorities of the Roman +++
Catholic Church Never Allowed Unbaptized Corpses to Be
Buried in a Consecrated Cemetery at the Start of the
New Testament Body of Jesus Christ! (Part 1)
Now take a deep breath.
Here’s where the sword of Canon Law turns against BODers and their waterless stance, shredding the idea of ‘baptism of desire’ way worse than it does WOers and their waterful position, showing us that ‘water only’ could still very much apply to the Laver of Regeneration.
Anyone who studies carefully the long history of God’s Singular Catholic Church comes to realize an indisputable, simple fact. And what is this inarguable fact? We state it plainly:
The Church’s Hierarchy during the first millennium of Her existence, when being properly vigilant, never, never, never, never permitted someone who was an unbaptized catechumen to be buried in a consecrated cemetery reserved solely for the baptized corpses of those souls who are visibly, and thus quite certainly, joined to the Roman Catholic Body of Jesus Christ.
Let us read what a major Catholic council said in AD 572:
“It is also decided that
catechumens who die without the redemption of baptism, in the same way, are not
to be commemorated with sacrifice [the Holy Mass] or chanting of the psalms
[the Divine Office]…” (The 2nd Council of Braga, Canon
17, a synod held in what is now northern
“It is also decided that catechumens who die without the redemption of baptism, in the same way, are NOT to be commemorated with sacrifice [the Holy Mass] or chanting of the psalms [the Divine Office]…” (Ibid., emphases & annotations added.)
Starting to make an impression on your mind?
The stubborn reader might be
tempted to rebut this evidence, of what the Second Council of Braga ruled, with
the veritable yet irrelevant observation, “Oh, but
Implying, then, that
Which is an odd thing for such a person to say when we’ve spent lots of time driving home the distinction between infallible acts of the Church & Her Pope, and acts that are not guaranteed the Charism of Infallibility, howsoever authoritative the acts may be otherwise. Why aren’t they so concerned about the fact that the 1917 Code of Canon Law is not infallible? One begins to suspect such people adopt whatever strategy is most advantageous for them at the moment.
That is to say, they don’t care about the truth… they just want to ‘win’ an argument.
In any case, we’re simply pointing out that an important council of the Church upheld a time-honored practice --- and not that this council was an ecumenical and infallible council, which is beside the point. Furthermore, we also point out that Innocent III (a pope of the early second millennium) ruled that the 2nd Council of Braga was real & legitimate. So even if he as a pope personally disagreed with this particular canon not allowing spiritual assistance for a dead and unbaptized catechumen, he as a learned man knew quite well that it had been the practice of the ancient Church to not spiritually assist the soul, or bury in a consecrated cemetery the body, of a dead but unbaptized catechumen. Which didn’t then, by his papal ruling, make Braga become an ‘ecumenical and infallible’ council --- his purpose was not to raise Braga to an ecumenical status but to remove any doubts that it actually occurred and thus authoritatively decided many things for that area of Europe (an earlier council purportedly held in Braga in AD 411 was doubtful, hence Pope Innocent’s main goal was, most likely, to give the Catholics there guidance as to which of the provincial councils held in Braga were authoritative and which were not).
+++ 181. The Hierarchical Authorities of the Roman +++
Catholic Church Never Allowed Unbaptized Corpses to Be
Buried in a Consecrated Cemetery at the Start of the
New Testament Body of Jesus Christ! (Part 2)
Nor can the stubborn reader gain currency by claiming the Second Council of Braga merely mentions the Holy Mass and Divine Office as forbidden for unbaptized catechumens, while pretending that this regional council still ‘allowed’ --- so they would like to claim, out of thin air & unsubstantiated --- for burial of such corpses in the hallowed part of a consecrated Roman Catholic cemetery reserved solely for the corpses of visibly & indisputably baptized souls.
Because what is one to think?
Any Catholic knows that the Holy Mass and Divine Office are offered up to the Lord on behalf of the recently deceased member of the Catholic Church --- who died in good standing, not being publicly & notoriously wicked or heretical or schismatic --- so as to hasten their entrance into Heaven after being cleansed in Purgatory (presuming he or she is no martyr or great saint). Knowing this is so, how is it an authoritative provincial council would deny unbaptized catechumens this spiritual assistance while still burying them in consecrated ground?
It’s as if the bishops at
“This catechumen was not visibly joined to Jesus’ Visible Body through the visible Sacrament of Baptism… the visible matter of which is a visible water… so how dare we act like the dead but unbaptized catechumen died inside the Church (outside of which there is no salvation!) and hence lawfully & fruitfully offer up sacrifice for his soul, hastening him into Heaven?”
Remember, we have already proven in spades that ancient Catholics had no universal idea, confidence or belief in some sort of ‘baptism of desire’. If you’ve only read this part of the book, beloved reader, or are simply ‘skimming’ and ‘cherry picking’ through this long book, then be an intelligent person and do some serious, thorough reading & thinking about Baptismal Confusion. Especially take a hard, long, serious look at Chapters 1 through 82. Never has so-called BOD been explicitly & infallibly defined; never was it explicitly & infallibly taught from the beginning with Jesus & His Apostles; and there is even ancient evidence against BOD.
For instance, whether or not St. Ambrose actually came to believe in something like the supposed ‘baptism of desire’ current in the second millennium (you’ll recall Chapters 34 to 37, where we demonstrated his exact words about the real necessity for water baptism to be at times vague and elsewhere apparently contradictory), we know --- from Ambrose’s own words at the funeral for his dead but, seemingly, unbaptized disciple, Valentinian --- how the crowd of Catholics gathered for his eulogy were mourning Valentinian as a lost soul without the sacramental water administered to his body at the end of the fourth century!
St. Ambrose’s own words in the eulogy prove this.
Meanwhile, Ambrose’s other
disciple (but really & visibly baptized in water, fortunately),
We also found, in Chapters 61 to 71, how a major early Church father, doctor and saint --- Gregory Nanzianzen --- whilst not intending to argue against so-called ‘baptism of desire’ as it’s come to be known in the last thousand years (and which, indeed, he couldn’t even know about since it either didn’t exist or, at least, hadn’t yet gained traction during his fourth century lifetime), notwithstanding, used a logical argument that both assaults and most literally annihilates the supposition at the very heart of BOD and its ‘waterless salvation’!
The point is, ‘baptism of desire’ is a theological notion that was only very little known and, where known, considered speculative and uncertain, at first, during the first millennium.
Ambrose may have come up with the core idea and believed in it near the end of his life, yet, whether or not he did (BOD people of the past thousand years read into his words what they already think is certain, blind to what he truly says, which is unsure), his student, Augustine, most surely did believe in BOD for awhile… but then later rejected it. Theologians, saints and leaders of the Church by the turn of the second millennium either didn’t know these facts were true or else didn’t think it mattered they were true, choosing to follow what an increasing number of them wanted to believe was true --- that a thing called ‘baptism of desire’ (or, rather, ‘baptism of spirit’ or ‘baptism of fire’ as it was known in Latin) was real and, if a catechumen happened to die ‘accidentally’ without the sacramental water but with perfect contrition in his heart, then God forgave his mortal sins, the Holy Ghost entered into him, and he had hope of salvation.
So, is it any surprise a provincial council would forbid the Holy Mass and the Divine Office to be held for a dead & unbaptized catechumen during the sixth century? Does it really shock the reader who’s paying attention that this then is, as well, rock solid proof they would never bury such an unbaptized catechumen in consecrated ground, since he has no visible hope for salvation, having died without visibly joining Jesus’ Visible Body, the Catholic Church?
For the person who’s paying attention, absolutely not.
+++ 182. The Hierarchical Authorities of the Roman +++
Catholic Church Never Allowed Unbaptized Corpses to Be
Buried in a Consecrated Cemetery at the Start of the
New Testament Body of Jesus Christ! (Part 3)
But again, we’ll bring out the big guns for skeptical readers.
Accordingly, some eminent theologians and esteemed scholars.
E.g., the learned English Jesuit priest, Fr. Herbert Thurston, had this to say:
baptized persons have a claim to Christian burial and the rites of the Church cannot
lawfully be performed over those who are NOT baptized.” (The Catholic Encyclopedia,
printed by Robert Appleton Co. at
Note that, being published in 1908 some nine years before the ‘new’ Code of Canon Law in 1917, this learned Jesuit priest --- the expert writer for this particular article within The Catholic Encyclopedia --- is relying on both the Code of Canon Law in effect prior to 1917 and the rules for burial in the Catholic Church since most ancient times. Or else why didn’t he mention the clause for an exception in Canon 1239 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law? I.e., where it says:
“Unbaptized persons may not receive ecclesiastical burial, with the exception of catechumens who, through no fault of theirs [through no fault of their own since it’s an ‘accidental’ death], die without having received baptism, and are therefore to be regarded as among those baptized.” (1917 Code of Canon Law, Canon 1239. All emphasis & annotation added.)
Notice that long ‘exception’ clause?
“…with the exception of catechumens who, through no fault of theirs, die without having received baptism, and are therefore to be regarded as among those baptized.” (Ibid.)
The implication is plain.
The 1917 Code of Canon Law innovated by adding this ‘exception’ clause to the most ancient and normally unbroken rule of burial in Catholic cemeteries, an ‘exception’ the Jesuit expert, Fr. Thurston, does not dare to mention since it did not yet exist as a general rule in Canon Law anywhere when writing his article for The Catholic Encyclopedia in 1908.
Moreover --- and to add insult to injury for the poor BOD enthusiast --- Fr. Herbert Thurston, like so many of his fellow Jesuits at the turn of the 20th century, was suspect of modernist tendencies and sometimes clashed with more conservative Church authorities.
If he, a modernist-leaning and liberal Jesuit clergyman, could have gotten away with it, then surely he would have pumped it to the max, jumping on such an ‘exception’ clause with glee as something clearly only ‘right’ and ‘charitable’ that the Catholic Church do for those pathetically unbaptized catechumens who, ‘through no fault of their own’ (unvaryingly presumes the BOD aficionado for every single hypothetical case), ‘happened to die’ without water baptism… and which the ancient Church somehow, in its ‘rigidity’, never allowed in a more ‘cruel’ era.
Ah, but we’re not finished.
Let’s see some more eminent theological scholarship!
“A certain statement in the
funeral oration of St. Ambrose over the Emperor Valentinian
II has been brought forward as a proof that the Church offered sacrifices and prayers for catechumens who died before baptism. There is not a vestige of such a
custom to be found anywhere. St.
Ambrose may have done so [as in ‘he might have done this’,
and not that such an imagined
possibility is ‘for certain’!] for the soul of the catechumen Valentinian, but
this would be a solitary instance, and it was done apparently
because he believed that the emperor had had the baptism of desire. [So the
author of this article would like to think… review Chapters 34 to
37 in the book you’re reading right now, Baptismal Confusion, regarding the actual uncertainty of St.
Ambrose’s testimony when viewed objectively as a whole and without a
bias demanding some sort of pre-ordained conclusion for BOD.] The practice of the Church is more
correctly shown in the canon (xvii) [Canon 17] of the Second Council of
Braga: ‘Neither the commemoration of Sacrifice [oblationis] nor
the service of chanting [psallendi]
is to be employed for catechumens who have died without the
redemption of baptism.’ The
arguments for a contrary usage sought in the Second Council of Arles (c.
xii) [Canon 12 of this council] and the Fourth Council of Carthage (c. lxxix) [Canon 79] are not to the point, for these
councils speak, not of catechumens, but of penitents [i.e., baptized
Catholics who do serious public penance for a horrible or public mortal sin
for some time prior to being allowed to partake of the Eucharist again
during Mass] who had died suddenly before their expiation was completed.”
Encyclopedia, printed by Robert Appleton Co. at
The writer of this Catholic Encyclopedia article, Fr.
William H. W. Fanning, was also a Jesuit priest, just like Fr. Thurston, who we
cited above concerning Christian (read: Roman Catholic) burial in consecrated
Catholic cemeteries. An American-born clergyman --- unlike Thurston’s
British heritage --- he was nevertheless almost as eminent as his English
counterpart. Any Jesuit priest back then was incredibly learned & trained,
and, amongst other posts, this U.S. Jesuit and contributor to The Catholic Encyclopedia, Fr. Fanning,
taught as professor of both canon law and ecclesiastical history at
And what does our distinguished Jesuit, Fr. Fanning, say about ancient Catholic practice?
Once more we review closely his most relevant words on the Sacrament of Baptism:
“A certain statement in the
funeral oration of St. Ambrose over the Emperor Valentinian
II has been brought forward as a proof that the Church offered sacrifices and
prayers for catechumens who died before
baptism. There is not a vestige
of such a custom to be found anywhere. St.
Ambrose may have done so for the soul of the catechumen Valentinian, but
this would be a solitary instance… The practice of the Church is more correctly shown
in… [Canon 17] …of the Second Council of Braga: ‘Neither
the commemoration of Sacrifice [oblationis] nor the service of chanting [psallendi] is to
be employed for catechumens who have died without the redemption
of baptism.’ The arguments for a contrary
usage sought in the Second Council of
Say again regarding dead but UNBAPTIZED catechumens?
is NOT A VESTIGE of such a custom to be found anywhere… The practice of the Church is MORE
CORRECTLY SHOWN in… [Canon 17] …of the Second Council of
Oh, and lest the unknowledgeable yet avidly hostile reader wish to claim that my translation or handling of the 17th canon of the 2nd Council of Braga is ‘poor’ or ‘untrustworthy’ in Chapter 180, let him note our expert Jesuit’s affirmation of what we learned from this council:
Ergo, ancient Catholics most certainly did NOT facilely presume that God makes any exceptions at all for the urgent necessity of the Sacrament of Baptism and this Sacrament’s form & matter, or that an ‘accidentally’ dead yet unbaptized catechumen was surely of good will (which is not something that we, as merely human creatures without God’s Omniscience, can know with a moral certainty) and, thus, surely ‘forgiven’ by God DESPITE this catechumen’s visibly objective lack of sacramentally regenerative water.
And if ancient Catholics did presume that God made exceptions for these hypothetically ‘sincere’ yet ‘accidentally’ dead and UNBAPTIZED catechumens --- with at least moral certainty in the matter (no pun intended) --- then why would they bury UNBAPTIZED bodies of catechumens in the consecrated parts of a Roman Catholic cemetery, while, at the same time, deny such unfortunate souls the help of a Holy Mass and chants of the Divine Office?
The truth is the truth, dear reader.
The expert Jesuit, Fr. Fanning, backs it up. He knew very well that ancient Catholics categorically never knew or embraced a notion of ‘baptism of desire’, thereby justifying themselves in praying for, or burying in hallowed ground, unbaptized catechumens, canon law of ancient times explicitly forbidding such actions. He knew what they believed, and he knew what the 2nd Council of Braga taught, confirming what Chapter 180 of Baptismal Confusion reveals.
You don’t have to believe me… but you might want to believe him.
After all, he’s the brilliant expert; I’m just a little nobody.
Unless, of course, you dare the following risky deed:
To cross swords with an eminent Jesuit theologian.
+++ 183. The Hierarchical Authorities of the Roman +++
Catholic Church Never Allowed Unbaptized Corpses to Be
Buried in a Consecrated Cemetery at the Start of the
New Testament Body of Jesus Christ! (Part 4)
We’re not finished, though.
There’s still even more eminent theological scholarship to examine!
First, lets take a look at yet another article in The Catholic Encyclopedia, engorging our insatiable minds with a delicious intellectual feast of delightful mental morsels. To be specific, where another theological & scholarly expert says about the most ancient of Catholics:
“Catechumens when present
at Mass were not dismissed with the inquirers [‘inquirers’
were those interested, maybe, in becoming Catholic, but had not yet
decided and were, hence, not yet officially ‘catechumens’],
but were detained while a special prayer was recited over them. They [that is, the catechumens
--- not the inquirers, who were already dismissed] then also
withdrew before the Mass of the Faithful began [because it is a Mass
with the Most Holy Eucharist, which Eucharist is the Flesh & Blood
of God Almighty Himself and hence only available to persons who are baptized
members of God’s Body and professors of His Faith… i.e.,
real Roman Catholics]… As to their standard of living they had
to abstain from all immoral and pagan practices, and give proof by their virtue
and works of penance that they were worthy to begin a more immediate
preparation for baptism… A question… was the fate of those who died
at this stage [i.e., what happens to a catechumen who
‘accidentally’ dies whilst not yet baptized?]… St. Gregory [Nazianzen,
the early Church father] describes his terror during a storm at sea lest he might be taken away unbaptized…
(Carmen de Vita Sua, 324, sqq., P.G. XXXVII,
994).” (The Catholic Encyclopedia,
printed by Robert Appleton Co. at
“St. Gregory describes his terror during a storm at sea lest he might be taken away unbaptized…” (Ibid.)
Remember this early Church father?
We read an extensive and intricate quote from his writings back in Chapter 63 of this book, Baptismal Confusion. (You may reacquaint yourself with him --- or find out about him for the first time in your life if you’re just dipping into this book here at this point and don’t know anything about his fourth century existence --- more fully from Chapters 62 to 71 in what is, presently, Part 3 of Baptismal Confusion as posted online.)
And we found how, although St. Gregory wasn’t meaning to refute what has become known as ‘baptism of desire’ during the last few centuries in our English-speaking part of the world, he most certainly did not believe in anything like what we call BOD, firmly opposing the central notion of ‘desire’ and the supposed role it plays in ‘saving’ the purportedly ‘sincere’ yet unbaptized catechumen who dies ‘accidentally’ without the sacramental water.
If you don’t believe me, then please read (or re-read) Chapters 62 to 71.
But whether or not you want to believe my words… and whether or not you bother reading (or re-reading) Chapters 62 to 71 of Baptismal Confusion… you certainly cannot be both honest and intelligent, calling yourself a Roman Catholic and being of a conservative or traditional outlook, and simply dismiss what expert & scholarly theologian Fr. Scannell says.
Because it’s plain before your eyes if you just read the quote above carefully, and you can easily do some sleuthing of your own to see if what I quoted from him is what he really said in the article he wrote about catechumens for The Catholic Encyclopedia some 110 years ago.
For what does Fr. Scannell attest, himself referring to earlier scholarly authority, as well as the personal testimony of St. Gregory Nazianzen, who wrote about his own life in some detail?
That St. Gregory was terrified at the prospect of dying without water baptism!
And why would that be, what would make him afraid?
If not the prospect of hell forever, then what would make him so scared during a storm at sea, where he could die unbaptized, if not the threat of eternal damnation since he didn’t believe unbaptized catechumens could die ‘accidentally’ and get into Heaven via mere ‘desire’?
This is not surprising to someone who reads what Gregory Nazianzen said in his doctrinal sermon on the Sacrament of Baptism, thinking it over meticulously and not indulging a BOD bias that demands a pre-ordained outcome when considering evidence from early Church fathers both for and against the idea of a waterless salvation, especially when you’re not a martyr. It’s no big deal if you haven’t got an axe to grind. If it’s the truth you want, then the truth is there regarding most ancient Catholic thinking about ‘accidentally dead’ catechumens.
And the truth is, most of them didn’t believe in BOD.
Most of them didn’t even know about BOD!
BOD was a theological innovation.
Fr. Thomas B. Scannell, D.D., the co-translator and co-revisor of a famous theological book published in 1890, A Manual of Catholic Theology, and apparently ending his somewhat short life, from 1854 to 1917, as the Canon of Southwark Cathedral in England, was, if you read his whole article on catechumens --- not to mention, very possibly, his many other articles in The Catholic Encyclopedia --- plainly in favor of the idea of ‘baptism of desire’. Which is no big surprise since we already know, from what we’ve learned, that pretty much all clergy and practically all of the laity had accepted BOD by the beginning of the 20th century.
Hence why I quoted parsimoniously from his article. Such people routinely use evidence for BOB (‘baptism of blood’, how they thought purportedly ‘unbaptized’ martyrs for Catholicism got into Heaven) as a not-to-the-point ‘proof’ of BOD. (Please see Chapters 23 to 28 in this book, Baptismal Confusion, for why this is not-to-the-point.) He’d also have you believe ‘baptism of desire’ was widely known back then or, at least, many pondered it’s existence.
Not so. We’ve seen the evidence.
Where there was pondering or debate, it was not about the BOD (or BOS, ‘baptism of spirit’, as the scholastic theologians called it) later Catholics came to believe in. This BOD revolves around the core notion of ‘perfect contrition’ for your sins, which, taught the scholastics, would cause God to forgive the ‘accidentally dead’ catechumen for his mortal (but not his venial!) sins.
There is not, to my ken, any
solid proof that ancient Catholics argued for this kind of BOD, apart from St.
Augustine of Hippo, implicitly, which is why I acknowledge he pioneered
‘baptism of desire’ in AD 400 in a truncated, incipient form of BOD
that later came to dominate by c1100. Claimed ‘proof’ for BOD (not
BOB!) back then lacks this core notion of ‘perfect contrition’.
Learned Catholics of old may have thought it imperative if ever entertaining
something like BOD, yet we have no hard evidence of that aside from Augustine.
Thus, in the AD 300s, St. Gregory Nazianzen
wasn’t arguing against the later popularized idea of BOD (and despite him
annihilating the less profound, though crucial, idea that it’s mere
‘desire’ that saves ‘accidentally dead’ catechumens).
He was arguing primarily against the ‘wisdom’ of those catechumens
who would purposely delay getting water baptism, presumably because (if
extremely cautious) they didn’t want to go on sinning mortally after
being baptized and thus end up damned in spite of their baptism, in an even worse
state in hell than if they hadn’t got baptized; or because (if extremely
wicked) wanting to sin all over the place, and not stop sinning, until the very
last moment of their lives and thus wind up, barely, in Heaven. Likewise, St.
The upshot? Canon law hurts BOD way worse than it does WO.
+++ 184. The Hierarchical Authorities of the Roman +++
Catholic Church Never Allowed Unbaptized Corpses to Be
Buried in a Consecrated Cemetery at the Start of the
New Testament Body of Jesus Christ! (Part 5)
But… do you need a little more proof?
Then we cite yet another eminent clergyman & scholarly expert.
quotes Augustine as clearly opposed to any idea that catechumens are
saved without Baptism: ‘Catechumen,
quamvis in operibus bonis defunctum, vitam habere non credimus, excepto dumtaxat nisi martyrio sacramentum compleat.’ [Footnote 16:
C. 37, D. 4, de cons.] [
An American priest, Fr. Charles A. Kerin --- the author of the long quote above --- was born in 1905 and commenced his clerical training at St. Mary’s Seminary (called St. Mary’s Seminary & University since 1974) in Baltimore, Maryland, apparently finishing his education at the Catholic University of America, where his graduate thesis was printed as The Privation of Christian Burial and he received the title of J.C.D. (Doctor of Canon Law).
Ergo, once again we confront a highly trained Catholic expert & cleric telling us the simple truth… that unbaptized catechumens who die ‘accidentally’ prior to receiving the sacramental water were never lawfully buried in Catholic cemeteries during ancient times.
For he says:
[an expert theologian of the 12th century who compiled canon law]
quotes Augustine as clearly opposed to any idea that catechumens are
saved without Baptism: ‘Catechumen,
quamvis in operibus bonis defunctum, vitam habere non credimus, excepto dumtaxat nisi martyrio sacramentum compleat.’ [“A catechumen,
although in good works when dead, we
believe he cannot have (eternal) life, but with the only exception being
the one who gains the mystery (of the Catholic Faith) in martyrdom.”] From the sum of the evidence it would seem
to be fairly certain that catechumens were not considered members of the
Church as far as Christian burial was concerned… In Canon 15 the [2nd]
“Gratian quotes Augustine as CLEARLY OPPOSED to any idea that catechumens are saved WITHOUT BAPTISM… From the sum of the evidence it would seem to be fairly certain that CATECHUMENS WERE NOT CONSIDERED MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH as far as Christian burial was concerned… CATECHUMENS WERE ALSO DENIED CHRISTIAN BURIAL by canon 17 in so far as the Council [of Braga] DENIED IT TO ALL WHO HAD NOT BEEN BAPTIZED… 7. As proceeding from the ABSENCE of a right to Christian burial, the privation may arise from THE LACK OF BAPTISM…” (Ibid.)
And there you have it, from another fantastic expert, greatly learned in canon law.
Certainly a priest of his times, we can be sure he would defend ‘baptism of desire’ adamantly --- were he still alive and we able to talk to him --- and think the ‘exception clause’ of more recent canon law during his era (to wit, the 1917 Code of Canon Law and what the compilers of this systematized collection of statutes dared to change, when it comes to canon law from ancient times, by adding an exception for ‘accidentally dead’ catechumens in Canon 1239) a most wonderful and ‘charitable’ act of ‘enlightenment’ upon the part of Church leaders.
Even so, as seen above, he knew very well ancient Catholics disagreed with him.
They cautiously never blithely assumed unbaptized catechumens were safe.
To the contrary, per them, unbaptized & unmartyred souls were in hell.
The only exception mentioned in the 1st millennium by some Roman Catholics (but not all of them!) is the very rare example of a brave & unflinching martyrdom of a presumably unbaptized catechumen for the sake of upholding the One True Religion of Catholicism.
End of very blunt and very true sentences.
+++ 185. The Hierarchical Authorities of the Roman +++
Catholic Church Never Allowed Unbaptized Corpses to Be
Buried in a Consecrated Cemetery at the Start of the
New Testament Body of Jesus Christ! (Part 6)
Okay, my dear & precious soul.
Time to think hard, get honest… and be brave.
I beg the reader’s pardon if I have hurt your feelings, or sounded ‘too harsh’ the past fifteen chapters. Perhaps you’ve only stumbled upon this website and chanced to look at this particular page, wondering why I’ve been a tad ‘testy’ or a little ‘surly’. The answer is simple:
In my experience (more than 15 years now) I’ve found most of the people in this world don’t care one bit for the truth when it comes to religion or philosophy. They’ll believe whatever they want to believe, period. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. It doesn’t matter to them if what they choose to believe --- irrationally --- is a fantasy. They don’t care. Or, rather, should I say, they do very much ferociously care… just as long as their favorite fantasy makes them feel good.
In my experience, too (concerning those who still call themselves ‘catholic’, but they aren’t), they also don’t care one bit for the totality of truth when it comes to religion or philosophy. If LNO (Liberal Novus Ordoist), then they’ll make up out of thin air --- in defiance of the truth --- anything they like. If CNO (Conservative Novus Ordoist), they believe lots of stuff that is indeed true, maybe 70% to 90% of the One True Religion of Roman Catholicism, yet then, strangely, completely discount the other 30% to 10% as if infallible truth can be changed. Whereas the TNO (Traditional Novus Ordoist) believes, perchance, 90% to 95% of the True Religion. Then, just as oddly, this same person --- despite really looking and sounding a whole lot like he or she is really Catholic --- gets just as mysteriously antagonistic and automatically rejecting of that remaining 10% to 5% of infallible Church dogmas. (Please see Chapter 132 in this book, Baptismal Confusion, to recall what LNOs, CNOs & TNOs are, religiously speaking.)
What’s going on?
The Spirit of Modernism.
Modernism is the animating force,
unholy religion & diabolic zeitgeist of our era, the reigning paradigm of
the Great Apostasy, the very thing the Holy Ghost, via
I therefore never made The Epistemologic Works with delusions of grandeur.
Put humanly, I knew hardly anyone would ever pay attention.
And whoever does will mock or dismiss it.
Only God can make it otherwise.
So, if you’ve stumbled upon this webpage, I trust God to give you humility to overlook potentially ‘biting’ remarks or candid statements that may look too ‘blunt’ or ‘offensive’ to those who are, mayhap, overly sensitive and rather arrogant. Be you of good will and truly craving the truth about our existence and purpose, then you will look further, investigating carefully and eagerly. My frankness will be no obstacle, my candor no real stumbling block.
But if, dear reader, you have read this book straight through, paying close attention --- or skipping about blithely, skimming here and there --- then, if of good will and having humility, you will take my admonishments to heart and review what you may have forgotten, or, if blithe yet suddenly humble, go back and read much more cautiously what we have made clear, admitting the factual and logical truth of what we have established as beyond doubt.
It is, after all, a very important subject, fraught with eternal peril.
And the bottom line is this, the experts cited above making it indisputable:
Ancient canon law NEVER allowed an unbaptized catechumen, who dies ‘accidentally’ PRIOR to receiving the sacramental & regenerating water, to be buried in the consecrated part of a CATHOLIC cemetery.
To my knowledge, Pope Innocent III, who ruled the Catholic Church as the visible head of Jesus’ Body and Vicar of Christ from AD 1198 to 1216, is the very first Roman bishop ever in history to officially permit the corpse of an unbaptized soul, who claimed the name of Catholic and membership in Jesus’ Body, to be buried in hallowed ground, with the accompanying ritual.
And yet even he, learned & great man that he was, plainly knew that this conflicted with the Church’s earlier practice. Hence, to my knowledge, neither he nor his successors up until the early 20th century, ever dared to enshrine this novelty within a collection of canon law. Ergo, by saying he ‘officially’ permitted this novelty merely means that he granted an exception… and absolutely not that he made it a widespread custom or a new & binding canon law.
Again, to my knowledge, the 1917 Code of Canon Law is the first time ever, in all of the Church’s long and glorious history, that this novelty --- allowing for ‘accidentally dead’ and unbaptized catechumens to be buried in the consecrated part of a Catholic cemetery --- was enshrined in a collection of ecclesial canon law, in defiance of ancient past practice.
Review Chapter 182 of this book, Baptismal Confusion, for proof of what I say.
Our dear & learned expert Jesuit priest, Fr. Thurstan, made it stark.
Just prior to the release of the 1917 Code of Canon Law, in 1908, he did not mention any canonical exceptions to the Church’s perpetual practice… something he would not have done, learned and expert theologian that he was, had there been an ‘exception clause’ to burial for ‘accidentally dead’ but unbaptized catechumens in a collection of canon law before this innovation was introduced into the 1917 Code of Canon Law via its Canon 1239.
So what’s the problem?
+++ 186. The Hierarchical Authorities of the Roman +++
Catholic Church Never Allowed Unbaptized Corpses to Be
Buried in a Consecrated Cemetery at the Start of the
New Testament Body of Jesus Christ! (Part 7)
Well, dear soul, ask yourself a simple, rational question:
Were Roman Catholics way back then in ancient times correct, or did Roman Catholics just lately --- in our modern world of the last few centuries --- finally get it right at the start of the 20th century, becoming much more ‘charitable’ and ‘enlightened’ and ‘compassionate’?
You can’t have it both ways. The two positions are, in all honesty, polar opposites.
Either they were right back then, or else we finally got it correct in 1917.
So which is it?
This is why, my beloved reader, the argument from canon law cuts more deeply against the ‘baptism of desire’ position. Neither Canons 737 nor 1239 in the 1917 Code of Canon Law are an act of papal infallibility. Ergo, they could be erroneous or unwise. The Holy Ghost does not, with the Charism of Infallibility, assure us that every pope will be perfectly wise & holy, or correct & impeccable, in everything he thinks, says or does. He must study, he must be watchful, and he must invoke four dogmatic criteria to gain useful infallible assistance.
So we ask, once more, which is it?
Were ancient Roman Catholics during the first millennium correct about unbaptized catechumens, or are we Roman Catholics today of the last century correct about burying unbaptized catechumens in hallowed ground?
This is no idle flight of fancy. This has real consequences. Either those unbaptized catechumens who died ‘accidentally’ before getting the sacramental water are in heaven or they are in hell. Be it heaven, then we should pray for them and offer up sacrifices to greatly shorten their time in purgatory, or lessen their suffering. How could a good & charitable Catholic do otherwise? Whereas, if in hell, then why in the world are we trying to help eternally damned souls? Moreover, why would we risk offending God by treating them as if they could be safe? Intelligently speaking, has God spoken clearly via His Church about their eternal fate?
The answer is, yes He has --- at least in the sense of disciplinary practice.
Ancient Catholics never dared to think ‘accidentally dead’ catechumens were in heaven.
And has God’s Church ever infallibly & explicitly assured us to the contrary?
No, She hasn’t.
So, then, where do we get off acting like She has?
I’m not pretending the Church has infallibly ruled in this matter with explicit intent. Au contraire, throughout this book, Baptismal Confusion, with solid facts and ironclad logic, I have constantly pointed out that She has not. Hence, how dare we defy ancient canonic custom and act as if She has? And if the Church has not spoken infallibly & explicitly regarding BOD (‘baptism of desire’) or WO (‘water only’), then how is it we have the audacity to contradict ancient law?
This is why, dear soul, I counsel caution. Canons 737 & 1239 in the 1917 Code of Canon Law were, at the very least, hasty and imprudent. Again --- either ancient Roman Catholics were correct for centuries & centuries on end, or else Roman Catholics of a mere past century suddenly have it right. There is no in-between, logically speaking. Which is why I say:
“I don’t know about you, precious soul, but I’m cautiously sticking with the ancients.”
Because whenever a blatantly contradictory position is taken up by later generations of purportedly ‘catholic’ people, without infallible & explicit assurance --- and to the degree of outrageously denying an infallible dogma of old, pretending the dogma’s meaning can ‘change’, or that the new meaning is the ‘same’ as the old meaning, when, in fact, it’s not! --- then something foolish and evil is going on. That’s precisely what has happened here.
At the very moment in the early 20th century people who called themselves Catholic were being taught, en masse, that the theological opinion of BOD was indubitably true, they were also being taught that the infallible dogma of ‘no Salvation outside the Church’ didn’t mean what earliest Catholics had always known that it meant in its most ancient, narrow & correct sense.
(Please review Chapters 83 to 132 for historical proof of this assertion.)
This is vile and disturbing.
It doesn’t ‘prove’, all by itself, that the theological opinion of BOD --- in its orthodox sense, applying solely to the ‘accidentally dead’ and intelligent catechumen --- is erroneous. But it does certainly suggest that BOD was a gateway used by learned heretics, posing as members of the Church, for their own nefarious purpose, trying to destroy Catholicity from the inside out.
It is as we said:
The argument based on the 1917 Code of Canon Law is the weakest of all arguments for the theological opinion of BOD (‘baptism of desire’). It is, too, when examined thoroughly, shockingly powerful evidence for the opposite theological opinion of WO (‘water only’).
Or would a wise reader have the nerve to call ancient Catholics stupid or wrong?
+++ 187. The Real ‘Best Argument for BOD’ +++
Once more, though, we drive it home.
However precarious this ‘it’s-in-the-1917-Code-of-Canon-Law’ argument is --- and regardless of how devastating the rebuttal is, UNDENIABLY PROVING that ancient Catholics NEVER DARED TO THINK a supposedly ‘accidentally dead’ catechumen, and thus unbaptized, is ‘surely’ in Heaven --- the Roman Catholic Church simply has not ever yet solemnly, infallibly & explicitly ruled in this matter (no pun intended), in this way allowing every single member of Her Body to know for absolute certain which one of them is the CORRECT THEOLOGICAL OPINION. End of sentence, case nearly wrapped up & closed, and (a pause, with dramatic silence)… period.
We are still mired in a quandary millennia in the making. Namely:
Is the visible matter of the Sacrament of Baptism always & absolutely needed, therefore A TOTAL & ESSENTIAL NECESSITY OF MEANS, or does the Triune God of the Roman Catholic Church deign to permit, at least on rare occasion with the exercise of PERFECT CONTRITION, the soul of an unbaptized catechumen entrance into Heaven, thereby making an OUT-OF-THE-ORDINARY EXCEPTION to an otherwise NECESSITY OF PRECEPT condition?
To wit, is the sacramental water always necessary without exception?
This is the real battle, this is the real question. All else is distraction.
And ergo pointless argument, getting nobody much of anywhere at all.
Notwithstanding, the real Catholic realizing this, then, with good-willed charity, Catholics could politely debate the matter (pun intended this time…), and, maybe, achieve some true progress in actually understanding the pros & cons. At a minimum, this might clear up the subject enough to allow a true pope in the near future to quickly rule with infallible explicitness, putting the topic to rest. At a maximum, God willing, it might form near unanimous opinion amongst today’s real Catholics, howsoever few we be, and, while not infallible, put the topic to rest until a true future pope sees fit to rule authoritatively and (one hopes) with infallible explicitness. Either way, we benefit. I mean, when is vituperative fighting & rank confusion ever a ‘good thing’? Such hullabaloos are embarrassing at best and schismatic at worst for real Catholics.
In the meantime, I offer ‘baptism of desire’ aficionados a helping hand.
It’s a strange thing, but in all their writings --- and whether or not any of them are true Catholics --- I have yet to encounter the point I’m about to put forth. Perhaps somebody has already made this point. Perhaps I’ve simply never been fortunate enough to find it, in spite of all my years of research & effort. Be this the case or not, it is the real best argument for BOD in the (thus far) orthodox sense. Let us examine the logic.
We’ll call it the ‘POD-by-proxy’ inference. And what is ‘POD’?
‘Penance by desire’. Again, the word ‘desire’ is a poor choice in English for anyone translating from Latin. Still, understood correctly, we use the term since it has been so prevalent in the last few centuries among English-speaking people claiming Catholicity. We’ll not overwhelm all the more poor readers who have gotten this far in a long book concerning the Sacrament of Baptism. We merely note that the Council of Trent --- the greatest infallible council of the Roman Catholic Church to date --- upheld POD in its teachings in at least three places. Taken together, they constitute adequate explicitness, giving any real Catholic an absolute certainty in the matter. To find careful proof of this assertion, please peruse The Sacrament of Penance Without a Priest Available . You may discover it in the Quiklinks section to the right, or in the Books & Articles section to your left. Whatever your lack of knowledge beforehand, you now have no excuse to pretend an ‘ignorance’ about the subject, or to act ‘doubtful’ regarding what the Church has actually, infallibly & explicitly taught. When in an emergency situation, with no truly Catholic --- and hence legal --- priest available, the real Roman Catholic person who finds his or her self in the state of mortal sin can do three things so as to regain the state of grace. One, accuse one’s self of the mortal sins you are guilty of, just as you’d do in the dark and silence of the confessional booth. Two, have perfect contrition for the transgressions you’ve committed. (You may go here to find assistance for having perfect contrition. Called A Thorough Contritional Prayer, it’s one morally certain way to achieve this necessity. You may find it in the Quiklinks at the right as well, or in the Prayers & Devotions section to your left.) And, three, truly resolve --- if ever given the real opportunity --- to confess again these mortal transgression, that you have already explicitly accused yourself of privately before Heaven with perfect contrition, to a completely lawful & valid priest, as soon as such a man is REASONABLY nearby.
Got that? Good. Now go the next step. Use your brain to make a logical inference.
If Our Creator’s One & Only Church of Roman Catholicism has already infallibly & explicitly assured us something like POD is real for the Sacrament of Penance (AND SHE HAS!!!), then how in the world can it be totally inconceivable that His Catholic Church might infallibly & explicitly reveal to us in the future that God has done the same thing, in principle, with the Sacrament of Baptism for what we call BOD???
Do you see? There is NO MORALLY CERTAIN REASON this couldn’t occur.
Only a future infallible & explicit ruling from a true pope can resolve the question.
Ergo, until then, the orthodox version of BOD is permissible (only a catechumen who resolves to enter the One True Church but dies ‘accidentally’ before he or she receives the sacramental water in the state of perfect contrition may enter Heaven without visible reception of the baptismal form & matter), and the argument above is actually the best-by-far argument presently existing on behalf of a ‘baptism of desire’ opinion. Better, even, than the essentially unanimous concurrence of the Scholastic theologians in the matter. Better, because these theologians, for all their eminence, do NOT exercise a charism of infallibility. Hence, where a pope HAS ruled infallibly (POD, that is, a ‘penance of desire’) in a matter extremely similar, in principle, to BOD, then, by extension of logical inference, it is credible that BOD may be real & operate.
And, therefore, that this is --- oddly --- the best evidence to date for BOD.
Curious… isn’t it? …that, to my ken, no BODer has thought to wield it.
Luckily, they’ve a friend in me. Not a fan --- but I’m trying to be nice.
+++ 188. And BOD’s Achilles’ Heel, Too +++
Unfortunately, for all the possibility of ‘baptism of desire’ in its orthodox version turning out to be infallibly true in a not-too-distant future, we’ve the other possibility to consider as well. Accordingly, what if BOD turns out not to be infallibly true, instead winding up infallibly ruled out or infallibly condemned? The blood boiling in your veins, my poor and much-put-upon reader? My apologies. I want the truth. What are you interested in? Comforting & prejudicial fables are of no use to me… or anyone, if a person is honest, intelligently pursuing reality without flinching. Ergo, we’ll face down this threat, too.
Yet what is the BOD Achilles’ heel? Where does its theological weakness lie?
It’s been the gateway to hideous evil & rank heresy during our times.
Does this then make the orthodox version of BOD not ‘orthodox’?
No, because the one does not follow logically from the other.
What does it do, though? Wave a big red flag of caution.
There’s a story --- I’ve no idea if it’s true, not having the time or urgency to have to spend a potentially enormous effort in nailing it down one way or another --- that the renowned St. Thomas Aquinas, in one of his exchanges with a dear friend, the nearly as renowned St. Bonaventure (the former was Dominican, the latter Franciscan, by the way, mirroring the friendship between the two religious orders’ founders, St. Dominic and St. Francis), was told by Bonaventure, “You are the father of heresies.” Or something very similar. So was Bonaventure saying, if this account is true, that Thomas was himself a heretic? Not at all. Franciscan saint & theologian was merely telling his compatriot Dominican saint & theologian that, dear Thomas, some of your explorations & speculations, bereft of wisdom & prudence in those who may study them, can consequently lead such foolish people into damnable heresy due to blindness.
The point? This is exactly what the orthodox version of BOD resulted in.
Say again? This is precisely where BOD has enabled the souls of fools to go.
How so? Think logically & honestly. Be candid & well-informed. Follow the facts wherever they may cause us to wind up. Make sense? Helmet on? Then let’s move.
In it’s orthodox version, which the Church’s Hierarchy --- and Her theologians & other thinkers, along with them --- both tolerating & even promoting, but without a pope ever actually solemnly, infallibly & explicitly defining or clarifying with an absolute certainty BOD, it first became acceptable, then prevalent, for a Catholic to suppose that the utmost important thing about the Sacrament of Baptism was its invisible part… and not a visible aspect, which entails the obviously visible & witnessable form & matter of this doorway sacrament. As a result, Church leaders, theologians & thinkers began assuming, more & more, that unseen graces (whilst certainly there, of course! which is what a visible form & matter allow Catholics to have certainty about...) of the Holy Ghost is, plainly, what REALLY MATTERS when it comes to baptism. Furthermore, that this is much more imperative to the Sacrament of Baptism. That is to say, that catechumens are ‘baptized’ already, so to speak, left-and-right everywhere via a perfect contrition for their sins and the Holy Ghost’s purported ‘indwelling’ within them prior to actual water baptism. And if, for some ‘unforeseen’ obstacle, such ‘already-baptized-via-perfect-contrition’ souls of catechumens, resolved to enter God’s Church through baptismal water, are unable to get this water baptism before an ‘accidental’ or ‘unplanned’ demise… well, they’re just fine & dandy without it. I mean, after all, it’s an invisible perfect contrition and an invisible indwelling of the Holy Ghost that really matters, right? Right. So what’s the huge deal with the ‘formality’ of the sacramental water? It’s an afterthought, really. Perfunctory, mere symbolic ritual. Certainly NOT the critical act of salvation formerly believed.
Ah, profound theology. How amazing! How perspicacious! Finally, we fathom.
Or do we? Catholics can debate a relative efficacy of visibility vs. invisibility.
What we CANNOT presume, out of thin air, is that visibility is IRRELEVANT.
God Himself, Jesus Christ, instituted visible water baptism. Period. Simple logic irrefutably demonstrates that, for visible creatures called human beings, lack of a visible evidence for the Sacrament of Baptism calls into question, automatically and unavoidably, any kind of certainty --- and thus validity or reality --- of the purported sacrament being administered or received. Hence, how to tell who’s really inside the Catholic Church, and who’s on the outside? Which then means, which human being actually has hope of salvation and who doesn’t? And who can we lawfully bury in Catholic cemeteries, or honor as martyrs, and who can we not… risking offending Almighty God by praying for, or praying to, those souls who are actually in hell?
Do you get it? This has real world implications. Everlastingly so. Feel blithe?
Then I dare to suggest that you’re not Catholic --- or not a very wise one.
This is what the ‘baptism of desire’ theological opinion has led to. Particularly the version called ‘implicit desire for baptism’. There is an orthodox version of this opinion. It’s what most, if not all, Scholastic theologians held. Unfortunately, this opinion opened the passage to an interpretation that was BEYOND THE PALE, denying the Salvation Dogma in its original, ancient, narrow, strict, correct, infallible & unchangeable sense. Suddenly, intelligent people who never know about Roman Catholicism, or who are ‘culturally prejudiced’ against Roman Catholicism --- and, strangely, never bother to humbly & doggedly question their ignorance or bias to seek for the Saving Truth --- become ‘saved’ regardless. And all because they’re supposedly ‘invincibly ignorant’, despite their God-given intelligence and guardian angels more-than-happy to assist them in a quest to find the One True Religion and their purpose for existing as flesh & blood as the Image of God, and purportedly ‘sincere’ in their lackadaisical state of not actually & truly being Roman Catholic, visibly believing in & visibly professing, God’s Singular Catholic Religion Whole & Entire, or visibly seeking & visibly receiving baptismal waters. Such ‘invisible membership’ is no real membership, being heretical.
This is what BOD has led to. So does this awful fact make BOD ‘heretical’?
Not in its catechumenally orthodox version. Yet disturbingly suspect?
Of a certainty. Much earlier proponents of the presently & catechumenally orthodox ‘baptism of desire’ positions cannot be held directly responsible for this outcome. Thus, we are not foolishly accusing them of ‘heresy’ or the like. We simply point out the result that is now indisputable. That BOD --- especially in its ‘implicit’ form --- has facilitated salvation heresy in modern times by allowing clever but diabolic theologians to use this as a ‘jumping off point’ in order to usher in the ‘salvation-in-the-state-of-invincible-ignorance-and-sincerity’ heresy whilst superficially making it look ‘orthodox’.
I.e., they’ve gone beyond the pale. Earlier theologians have ‘fathered’ heresy.
Not intentionally. Leastwise, we’ve no proof in the external forum, have we?
We thus play it safe, and charitable. Only those theologians or thinkers, claiming to be Catholic, who dared to notoriously & pertinaciously opine that non-Catholics --- not ever hearing of Roman Catholicism or else raised biased against it --- could, nonetheless, end up entering Heaven in spite of never professing the Catholic Religion Whole & Entire, or in spite of not receiving a real water baptism or even obediently resolving to receive Holy Mother Church’s Sacrament of Baptism, if only implicitly, knowing God’s Roman Catholic Church to be His Sole Means of Salvation and that they must obey Her.
This is what we mean by ‘beyond the pale’. This is where you cross the line.
You cannot pretend to ‘uphold’ one dogma or presently permissible theological opinion whilst blatantly & repeatedly denying the original & unchanging meaning of another simple & indisputable dogma in doing so. And yet this is precisely what Modernists hellishly have dared to do. And gotten away with it, because real Catholics either nonchalantly fail to pay attention, or else Catholics haven’t truly been Catholic. Whichever, the same thing results. Religious lies charade as ‘religious truth’.
Big stroke against BOD? Oh, yes. Massively big. Doesn’t ‘prove’ BOD is wrong. Notwithstanding, make a real Catholic, who is cautious, wary of it? I think so. It has certainly made me wary. Extremely so. For good reason, too. Because without it, the Great Apostasy could not have come upon us as we have known it. Fools who are uninformed could have come to worldwide apostasy, regardless. Yet impressively learned, highly trained theologians? No. They would have been identified quickly, alacritously sanctioned or excommunicated. This is the loophole they used to stay securely in their positions, tolerated by the unwary or the evil. Whichever, this is explanatory of CNOs & TNOs, too. Who can look really ‘catholic’ to a degree, nevertheless, can espouse salvation heresy with spleen & venom. Because they avariciously drank the poison long ago, becoming spiritual zombies. Literally.
And zombies don’t think do they? And they like to eat you. Appalled?
I am. I have no desire to reside in the belly of an Oceanic Beast.
+++ 189. The Bottom Line… +++
and Best Argument for WO
Let us, then, turn to WO. We’ve just seen the best arguments for and against the venerable (but not infallibly & explicitly affirmed!) ‘baptism of desire’. Meanwhile, equally venerable (to the shock of venomously avid BODers…) WO also has a best argument. My dear & precious reader, shall we take a quick but close look at it?
It’s simple, really. We’ve even touched on it several times before in this book.
Earliest and most ancient of Catholics were ‘water only’. Say again? The earliest & most ancient of all Roman Catholics were most definitely --- without a doubt –- firm WOers. Not that they even had any idea that the BOD theological opinion existed. The point remains… they were WO, and ‘baptism of desire’ wasn’t even on the mental radar.
We’ve seen proof for this, too. Recollect? Or have you ‘conveniently’ forgotten?
Just saying. I find that people’s prejudices in this matter outweigh actual facts.
So let us review a few of those troublesome & annoying facts. Shall we?
Just as soon as you can stop squirming, fuming & cussing furiously.
I must insist you stop cussing. That’s not being a good Catholic.
Remember Chapters 34 to 37 of this tome, Baptismal Confusion? Yes, this is where, shifting gears, we turned our attention to certain early Church fathers, doctors, saints, theologians & leaders, over a period of time of some 800 years. What did they have to say that bears relevance in this face off between BOD & WO? Mind you, none of this is ‘infallible’. This is because none of them were real Bishops of Rome, exercising a pope’s charism of infallibility. Nevertheless, their various testimonies, observations, experiences & opinions certainly matter. That is to say, it’s important to know what they knew, said, thought or taught, eh? Indubitably. We have never advocated disrespecting such highly respected lights of the Church merely because they’re not popes, or popes not using a divinely bestowed charism of infallibility. It’s just that it cannot ‘solve’ it for good.
Particularly when such excellent & powerful points exist for both BOD and WO.
Savvy, my poor reader? Don’t want to upset you, but facts & logic are crucial.
And not just as pawns conveniently selected & spun to ‘uphold’ a pet theory.
So let’s be ‘brutal’, shall we? And face the facts & logic without flinching.
You’ll remember that St. Ambrose of Milan, after being raised to bishop of a diocese which adorns his name --- Milan, Italy --- then faced, much later in a long ecclesial reign, a crisis of unprecedented proportions. The emperor of that time, Valentinian, suffered at the hands of one of his more recalcitrant & rebellious generals. Who, resenting imperial decisions and his status as ‘barbarian’, decided to dispatch with the hated emperor. I.e., specifically, assassinate him. This was not openly admitted --- Modernist scholarship today loves to axiomatically doubt it --- but it was widely & popularly suspected at the time, and, sadly, Valentinian was, too, someone who had been raised to think as an Arian but, recently, had informed Ambrose that he wished to be Roman Catholic, becoming the catechumen that he would be until, at his own request, Ambrose could baptize the young leader himself, at his episcopal hands. The sad part is that he was assassinated before, apparently, he could receive water baptism. This then led multitudes to mourn him.
Mourn not just for his earthly life but his eternal fate as well. To wit, hell forever.
you read correctly. Review the aforesaid chapters again if you’ve (perhaps conveniently…) forgotten.
St. Ambrose himself had taught his diocesan flock. Yet, weeping disconsolately
at the funeral in
But the point remains. Whether or not Ambrose decided, at that moment, to believe in something we now call BOD, his Catholic listeners at the funeral eulogy certainly did not. It wasn’t even a theological opinion which they were aware existed --- because it didn’t. Not yet. And they wept, and mourned disconsolate, because they were sure, brokenheartedly so, that poor Valentinian was now in hell forever. Getting it now?
This is PROOF POSITIVE how earliest & most ancient Roman Catholics were WO.
What BODers blithely assume to be one of their ‘best’ proofs, is, in reality, hard & solid proof for the opposite… that ancient Catholics had no big belief in, let alone knowledge of, this novel theological concept. Recall St. Gregory Nazianzen? Who not only, without meaning to, attacked & destroyed the key concept of ‘desire’ in ‘baptism of desire’ (see, please, Chapters 62 to 71), but, we also recently learned in this book, when he was a catechumen, and not yet baptized, but on a boat in the middle of a terrible sea storm, Gregory’s utter terror at the thought of dying in this storm without water baptism (Chapter 183). Comprehending fully now? Or how about the poor catechumen who passed away while St. Martin of Tours was gone on a journey? Upon returning, how responded the intrepid saint? Did he reassure his mourning monks, saying something along the lines of, “Don’t worry, my poor religious. The dead gentleman was surely ‘sincere’ in his resolution to receive the Sacrament of Baptism, and doubtlessly was ‘perfectly’ contrite for his sins. Therefore, ‘baptism of desire’ has taken care of him. Indubitably, he enjoys Heaven, or at least Purgatory, right now!” No!!! To the utter contrary… Martin immediately prayed for the dead catechumen for two hours. Why would he do that if he knew about BOD and thought it was a ‘sure thing’? Then, the catechumen miraculously coming back to life (and why would God revive him if He teaches BOD and says it’s a ‘sure thing’, huh?), they immediately administered water baptism to him. (Chapter 31) That’s not all, too. For the revived & baptized catechumen lived a long life afterward, telling anyone who would listen that, at his judgment, he was condemned to a gloomy & hellish place with vulgar crowds, until, suggested by an angel that this man was the one that Martin prayed for, the Lord relented, allowing his soul to return to his body. And all for what? To receive the baptismal water! Again, are you comprehending completely now, my beloved soul? Finally beginning to perceive?
These --- and others we could cite --- are ancient examples of Catholic practice.
Practice which most certainly does NOT comport with the BOD position.
The proof is ironclad. Ancient Roman Catholics were strictly WO.
And this is the best argument of all for ‘water only’. Period.
+++ 190. The Part Where WO Tends to Stub Its Toe +++
(Or, How to Lose Friends & Make All Kinds of Enemies)
Ah, but let us be fair. We gave the best arguments for and against BOD. Now let us swivel the other cheek, allowing WO to be struck again. Not that avid BODers would hesitate for a moment. They really can be that vehement. No, we’re just trying to be fair. And it wouldn’t be fair if we didn’t honestly & adequately give the best argument against ‘water only’. The committed WOer is probably going, “You mean there is an argument against WO? A ‘best’ one, even?” Indeed there is. Let us take a look. Shall we?
The somewhat well-educated BODer may be saying, “Pretty much all of the Scholastic theologians and Church saints & leaders are against ‘water only’ in the past 700 years… that’s the problem. That’s WO’s big weak point.” And there’s a lot of truth to that claim. It’s true. Almost anyone who’s anybody in the Catholic Church, since at least the 1300s, has touted BOD and --- if paying it any attention at all --- dissed WO. Except, there’s a reason for this. A reason that begs us to ask, “Why?” It’s all very fine to observe that these impressive thinkers or leaders upped BOD. That is indeed weighty evidence. Notwithstanding, the real question is, “Why did they do so?” What drove this?
After all, there has to be a reason. It can’t just be personal whim or fancy. Eh?
So what’s the real reason for their BOD stance, hence the best WO attack?
And we return, as well, to something we’ve mentioned before in this long work, Baptismal Confusion. The ‘accidentally’ dead and purportedly ‘sincere’ catechumen. Now, the reason we continually put ‘accidentally’ in apostrophes is because, considering God’s omniscience (all-knowingness) and omnipotence (all-powerfulness), can the death ever really be ‘accidental’? Not just dubious… but, strictly speaking, impossible. And the reason I put ‘sincere’ in apostrophes, calling it purported, is because, taking into account natural limitations in a human being’s knowledge about another human’s motive, well… strictly speaking --- and being completely honest --- can anyone truly, with an absolute certainty, know for sure that somebody else is really & truly, not to mention totally, so very ‘sincere’ in his or her motives? And the less-than-flattering-yet-candid answer:
Uh, no. No, we really cannot be absolutely certain about someone else’s sincerity.
This is because ‘sincerity’ is part of a person’s heart & will. Which are invisible.
Ergo, who but the Triune God of the Catholic Church can know for sure…?
Who but He can truly know that a human being is, without doubt, sincere?
All the same, we can as human beings know, to some degree of certainty, based upon words & deeds of another human being, how ‘sincere’ or not this other human being is. And this is actually what the Scholastic theologians were concerned about. This is, more than anything --- and ultimately --- why they took the position they did of BOD. Yes, in great part they were following the lead of yet slightly earlier Church thinkers & leaders. For instance, St. Bernard of Clairvaux (amongst several others). Nevertheless, the big justification for both someone like the rather earlier Bernard and the somewhat later Scholastic theologians adopting ‘baptism of desire’ (or, more precisely, ‘baptism of spirit’ or ‘baptism of fire’, as they denominated it in the Church’s Latin) as a tenet practically beyond contesting, being, thought they, ‘proximate’ to dogma, is the worrisome & aforesaid ‘accidentally’ dead catechumen who was ‘sincere’.
That is to say, he or she really did publicly resolve to be trained in God’s Singularly Catholic Church’s dogmas & commandments, and really did publicly resolve to receive this same Church’s Sacrament of Baptism, with visible form & matter administered in the sight of multiple witnesses, including his or her Profession of Roman Catholic Faith. This on top of the catechumen’s seemingly sincere reform of his or her life according to good Catholic principles, and sincere attention to, and understanding of, what he or she is being taught, leaves a human observer thinking, “Why did God let him or her die?”
Forsooth, given that God is not willing that anyone should perish eternally, why has Almighty God not --- at a bare minimum --- allowed such a catechumen to receive the water of baptism, thereby at least having a shot at everlasting redemption? Hmmm?
This is what they struggled with. This is what disturbed theologians immensely.
This is why, then, they surmised, such catechumens could, notwithstanding, with a perfect contrition for their sins, receive the invisible ‘fire’ of the Holy Spirit without receiving the visible form of the right words, and ‘watery matter’, of the Sacrament of Baptism. For, if the catechumen is truly perfectly contrite, and thus truly fully sincere… well, what is one to think? Is God unjust? Or cruel? Is He not consummately fair & fully loving, to the highest degree and without blemish? Then how could such a catechumen suffer in hell forever when he or she had perfect contrition and God knows this, being utterly just and having declared Himself, inerrantly in Sacred Scripture, as unwilling anyone should perish in hell neverendingly? If so, then how could the apparently ‘sincere’ catechumen, who really is perfectly contrite, wind up in hell?
This is the dilemma Scholastic theologians thought they had solved.
And this is why they disdained ‘water only’. Because it looks cruel.
WO, from their point of view, makes God appear nasty & unjust.
Understanding? You may be truly Catholic, and you may be a WOer. Therefore, the ‘baptism of desire’ position may look to you as if it’s come from the pit of hell. And you may have a point. But you’re also clueless & unreasonable if you don’t truly comprehend the reasoning for BOD, in its orthodox and (hence far) acceptable version, and thus why Church thinkers, theologians, saints & leaders embraced it en masse by the AD 1500s. Maybe these people were wrong, however well-intentioned. Or maybe they’re right. Whichever, the WOer is ignorant at best, and arrogant at worst, if you reject BOD peremptorily without giving the other side time to explain itself to the fullest.
That’s what we’re doing here. Giving BOD a chance to explain itself fully.
And that is why this is the best of arguments by far against ‘water only’.
And why ‘water only’ seems to stub its toe… and seems to deserve it.
+++ 191. Ah, But It’s All Changed Now: +++
Most ‘Foes’ Aren’t Just Nasty, But Foes in the Fullest
Sense, and Most ‘Chums’ Sticking Together on Baptism
But that’s all changed now. Hasn’t it? Viz., we’ve entered apocalyptic times.
Don’t know this? Or don’t believe it? Then peruse This Is the Great Apostasy… Now, How Do We Make Sure Our Souls Survive It? This is fairly short. Nonetheless, if you think of yourself as Catholic --- and realize something is dreadfully wrong with our world today --- then this is more than enough to show you what must be done in response to our plight. Need more proof & explanation, though? Something thoroughly explaining things and how we got into this mess? Then study closely a much longer Helplessly Ignorant: the Nonsense of a Perfectly Intelligent But Strangely ‘Invincibly Ignorant’ Person Somehow ‘Unable’ to Know Catholicism Is True in Order to Find Salvation, Whilst, Instead, Getting into Heaven by Being ‘Sincere’. Both are in the Books & Articles section. You may also find them alphabetically in the Quiklinks to your right.
By ‘apocalyptic times’ we mean this is the Great Apostasy. To wit, the ‘final days’ spoken of by Jesus in the Gospels, the time of worldwide rebellion against God & His True Religion of Catholicism, unmatched since the global rebellion of humanity just prior to the Great Flood during the time of St. Noe [Noah], and which features the spirit of the antichrist taking shape and revealing itself in an unprecedented way here now, at the end of the world as we know it. One of the signs of this is rejection of Catholicity Whole & Entire everywhere on earth, even amongst those who still claim to be ‘catholic’.
Again, don’t want to believe it? Then put your money where your mouth is.
Read Helplessly Ignorant carefully. It reveals in spades what we dare to say.
In the meantime, how did we get this way? You’ll have to study the writings we mentioned above to get the full picture. All we’ve time to note at the moment is this --- the Great Apostasy revolves around a denial of ‘no Salvation outside the Church’ in its original, ancient, narrow, correct & unchanging sense, along with lots of other concurrent heresies or tomfoolery, and how it is that self-styled ‘catholics’ (but who aren’t what they claim to be!) could delude themselves into thinking they’re still ‘catholic’ whilst, at the same time, deny one or more of the Church’s infallible dogmas in its unchanging sense. Doesn’t matter just now that you probably don’t want to believe this. Assuming you’ve good will, then, with Heaven’s help, you’ll get it figured out in time. I simply do what must be done… tell the truth. And the truth, unfortunately, is not exactly pleasant:
Lots of sins & lies got us here. Yet it could never have happened without BOD.
Say again? We wouldn’t have the Great Apostasy without ‘baptism of desire’.
Specifically, the unique & peculiar form called ‘implicit’ BOD. Getting it?
For while lots of everyday people, whether Catholic or not to start with, could have wandered astray into total anti-Catholicity under the ‘right’ circumstances, no learned or highly trained theologian in the Catholic Church could ever have gotten away with denial of the Salvation Dogma without stretching a proper understanding of ‘implicit’ BOD well beyond the pale and, under guise of this notion --- already entrenched within the minds of educated Catholic thinkers since the time of the Scholastic theologians --- then evade the threat of exposure & excommunication under a Catholic bishop with jurisdiction had he simply come straight out and blatantly opposed ‘no Salvation outside the Church’ and then left it at that. No, they first had to come up with a way to ‘justify’ themselves. Having done this with ‘implicit’ BOD, they could pretend they were ‘orthodox’.
I.e., lazy, unwary or secretly heretical bishops ignored their subtle yet real heresy.
We’ve already looked at this ploy carefully in Chapter 188 above. So we needn’t get overly detailed. If not skipping & dipping capriciously, then you know what we mean. ‘Implicit’ BOD, as Scholastic theologians comprehended it, merely taught that people who, for whatever reason, know Catholicism is God’s True Religion and honestly intend to obey whatever She commands (including, especially, to receive water baptism… and even though he or she might not yet know that this is required by the Catholic Church), may, notwithstanding, partake of the graces of the Sacrament of Baptism as exceptions by God’s Mercy, due to them having perfect contrition for their sins and intending, in spite of not yet knowing, to obey whatever His Church commands them to do.
Which includes the doorway to the Church, receiving the sacramental water. This is ‘implicit baptism of desire’ in its (presently) orthodox understanding. Notoriously & pertinaciously teach otherwise --- ‘salvation-in-the-state-invincible-ignorance-and-sincerity’ joining you ‘invisibly’ to the ‘soul’ of the Church via ‘implicit’ BOD --- invokes canon law and results in Automatic Excommunication (‘Latae Sententiae’). Follow the link for full ecclesial proof of what I’m saying if you don’t want to acknowledge the truth of what I dare to say. Automatic excommunications not recognized let fake ‘catholics’ pretend to be real. It doesn’t change reality.
Over the past six centuries, one theologian of God’s Roman Catholic Church after another slowly but surely reinterpreted ‘implicit’ BOD to include perfectly intelligent human beings who never bother seeking for the True Religion of Catholicism --- or, if confronted by Her Testimony & Existence, automatically & prejudicially deny Roman Catholic dogmas without bothering to humbly question themselves and their thinking, taking God’s Church seriously and striving, with His Help, to see if what She tells us could possibly be precisely what She proclaims it to be, God’s Infallible Truth.
it now? These wicked theologians denied this necessity. They did so
knowing quite well… or able to know quite well… that this is forbidden
“And we beseech you, brethren [we beg you, our fellow Catholics]… that you be not easily moved from your sense [the Roman Catholic Faith Whole & Entire, which we taught you], nor be terrified, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by epistle, as sent from us, as if the day of the Lord were at hand [let neither wicked demon nor wicked human fool you into thinking Christ is going to return to earth right away, and don’t believe it just because a letter purports to come from us, your spiritual fathers]. Let no man deceive you by any means, for UNLESS there come A REVOLT FIRST, and the MAN OF SIN be revealed, the SON OF PERDITION [literally, the ‘offspring of hell’], who opposeth [opposes], and is lifted up above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he sitteth [sits, as if he’s ‘enthroned’] in the TEMPLE OF GOD, shewing himself AS IF HE WERE GOD [showing or posing as if ‘God’, as if he or any human being can believe & do whatever they want when it comes to religion, which is the evil aim of the anti-Catholic Novus Ordo antipopes since Vatican II]. Remember you not [don’t you recall?], that when I was yet [still] with you, I told you [about] these things? And now you know what [it is that] withholdeth [withholds, that is, restrains], that he may be revealed in his time [at the time that God has planned to permit this to happen]. For the mystery of iniquity already worketh [works, to wit, it’s already started, as I, St. Paul, write to you]; only that he who now holdeth [holds, i.e., restrains], do hold, until he be taken out of the way [a real Bishop of Rome, the Representative of Jesus Christ’s Authority on Earth, will restrain Lucifer, keeping the dragonic satan & demonic hordes from doing all the evil they’d like to do, until the Papacy is taken out of the way, briefly in the future to come]. And then that wicked one shall be revealed whom the Lord Jesus shall kill with the spirit of his mouth; and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming, him, whose coming is according to the working of Satan, in all power, and signs, and LYING WONDERS, and in all seduction of iniquity TO THEM THAT PERISH [die in hell neverendingly]; because they receive not the LOVE OF THE TRUTH, that they MIGHT BE SAVED [they obstinately refuse to seek for Roman Catholicism, or become Catholic, or just as stubbornly refuse to remain Catholic, if raised as such and baptized properly, denying one or more infallible dogmas in their original & perpetually unchanging sense]. Therefore God shall send them the OPERATION OF ERROR, TO BELIEVE LYING: That all may be judged [punished fully] who have NOT believed the truth, but have consented to iniquity [they reject Roman Catholicity Whole & Entire because it forbids them to sin]. (2 Thessalonians 2:1a, 2-11 DRC)
This is what real Catholics face today, for this is what BODers wound up being.
Under the guise of ‘orthodoxy’, mangled ‘implicit’ BOD ushered in Apostasy.
Accordingly, denial of at least one utterly crucial Catholic teaching. Every BODer eventually lost their Catholicity and led others to do the same. God permitted it because Catholics had become so wicked and so rebellious, and because the rest of the world was determined to disobey the Law of Natural Reason written upon their hearts --- and even if never Roman Catholic to begin with. Now do you understand why, as far as I can tell, all real Catholics left today during the Great Apostasy (howsoever few we are) pretty much embrace WO and view BOD with disgust? Perhaps not every single real Catholic left. Nevertheless, the majority as far as I am able to tell. It’s because they’ve seen the astonishing results of a loophole left open, wrongly twisting ‘implicit’ BOD.
After all, once bitten, twice shy, eh? ‘Water only’ seems a whole lot safer.
+++ 192. So Where Do I Stand? +++
So what do I believe? About the Sacrament of Baptism, that is. Or, to be really exact, where do I stand on the BOD vs. WO controversy? I hope the assiduous & meticulous reader has seen how very, very, very careful & evenhanded I’ve tried to be, not biased and willing to cite only the facts & logic that uphold ‘my side’, or appear to annihilate everything on the ‘other side’. That’d be unfair and dishonest. We need clarity here, instead of ever more confusion & stupidity. Notwithstanding, surely I have a side?
As a matter of fact, I do. And I think it only right the serious know my stance.
All the same, I’ve refrained from being candid till now so as to keep the prejudiced person from presuming, out of thin air, that my opinion is a ‘bias’ that keeps me from being accurate, just, factual & logical. Hopefully you can see that that is not true. For if anything, I have bent over backward to correctly represent both sides, presenting all of the evidence regardless of where it leads, and to stress that, thus far, neither side can claim ‘absolute certainty’ of an infallible nature until a real pope explicitly rules.
That said, having studied the topic carefully for years on end, I could hardly avoid choosing one over the other, could I? However difficult, confusing & complex, having studied it thoroughly… wouldn’t either BOD or WO eventually win me over? Of course it would. I’m only human. But a human being determined to find the truth --- and tell it honestly --- and admit where things are uncertain, or left hanging until God acts.
So what is my stance? Which theological opinion do I prefer? BOD or WO?
Maybe you’ve guessed already. A careful reader is fully capable, I’m sure.
So here it is --- ‘water only’. I like WO. It seems to me the safest choice.
+++ 193. The Augustinian Option +++
Now, the hardcore ‘baptism of desire’ aficionado is not going to like this. I am very sorry… yet I still must conclude what I conclude, for now. Viz., a real pope might one day tell us otherwise, with an infallible & explicit declaration. In which case, being truly Catholic and (I pray Heaven!) a decent & obedient Catholic, I would back down, accept the extraordinary & solemn ruling, and never dare to defend ‘water only’ again. Except, that’s not the case right now, is it? If you’ve read this book carefully & thoroughly, not fantasizing that you’re ‘incapable’ of being wrong, then you know this to be true. It is inarguable. The Roman Catholic Church has never yet infallibly & explicitly told us different; therefore, it is plainly permissible, as a real Catholic, to intelligently speak about WO, arguing for its strengths & advantages. But if you wish to axiomatically denigrate this claim, then we dare to remind you of what we have already seen.
And that would be? Well, do you remember the great St. Augustine of Hippo?
Yes, we examined what he had to say about BOD vs. WO in Chapters 38 to 41. So whatever did we discover regarding him? Church father, doctor & saint, what did he reveal about the controversy, all the way back in the early fifth century? That’s right. Augustine is the first totally inarguable proof of someone in the Church who taught ‘baptism of desire’ in a truncated form that is, nonetheless, essentially what every Catholic thinker, theologian & leader came to believe in centuries later. Truly, his thoughts about BOD are --- along with what later BODers assumed was Ambrose’s position on BOD --- the two biggest reasons by far later Roman Catholics came to embrace this theological opinion without question. Fair enough. The most highly educated Roman Catholics felt they had a dilemma on their hands to solve (the catechumen who is ‘sincere’ every once in a long while dies prior to receiving sacramental water) and they must defend God from the charge of ‘cruelty’.
Are you with me so far? Good. Now either recall or reread what we learned.
do not dispute that
Comprehend? The evidence from Augustine himself is heavily against BOD.
He definitely believed in BOD earlier in his life. Yet by the time he was old?
Not so. Having dispensed with the only argument he mustered on behalf of BOD --- claiming the good thief was unbaptized but went to Heaven anyway without baptismal water --- how is it that he could continue believing in the ‘baptism of desire’ position? He correctly pointed out, at the end of his life, how there is no way to know for sure that this good thief was unbaptized. We, too, noted how there is not yet any reason to think water baptism was absolutely necessary prior to the Day of Pentecost, after both Christ & the good thief died. So, if he fails to defend BOD in his later writings, noting solely BOB later on, and then mentions neither BOD nor BOB in his very last writings where one might expect him to do so since they sometimes dealt with the Sacrament of Baptism, and, on top of all this, he annihilates his one single argument for BOD… well, what is one to think? Right. It is almost a moral certainty, consequently, that he rejected BOD.
Fine. Now put two & two together. If Augustine can reject BOD, then why can’t we?
We reiterate for the dull of hearing, slow to understand, or the obstinate quarreler:
If St. Augustine of Hippo, great & eminent Church father, doctor & saint that he was, could dare to reject the BOD theological opinion he had formerly espoused, then how could it be ‘wrong’, ‘foolish’ or ‘sinful’ for another real Catholic, lesser than him, to imitate his example? Get it? If you condemn I or another real Catholic for rejecting ‘baptism of desire’, then you are daring to condemn St. Augustine of Hippo, too, pretending that he was certainly awry, whilst you, BODer, are ‘certainly right’.
End of sentence.
But if you would not dare to do that --- and I tearfully beg you not to do so! --- then please do not dare to do the same to true Catholics who intelligently & respectfully prefer to hold to the ‘water only’ theological position. An ‘Augustinian Option’ is real. And, till a legitimate pope infallibly & explicitly proclaims to the contrary, any true Catholic may choose to believe likewise. Namely, that BOD is certainly not infallible dogma, facing many serious arguments against its correctness, and that WO is nowadays, during the Great Apostasy, the safer position to take. Don’t get me wrong. If truly Catholic, it’s permissible to believe in the BOD theological opinion that is orthodox thus far. It’s ludicrous contending that it’s not. Yet it is as well permissible to argue for WO.
194. Why It’s
Fell in Love With BOD (A Torrid Tale, Involving Some
Curious Logic and an Odd Double Standard…)
We’ve already found out why Church thinkers, theologians & leaders embraced the ‘baptism of desire’ theological opinion to begin with. Yet why so strongly, and why so unquestioningly? Well, to be honest, we don’t know how much some them might have questioned or doubted BOD as it started its domination. Certainly Hugh of St. Victor’s correspondence with St. Bernard of Clairvaux seems to suggest that not everyone was so happy about it --- or willing to believe in it unquestioningly. (Chapters 78 to 80) This is why we called the AD 1100s the ‘fulcrum’ or ‘tipping point’ in the matter of a waxing BOD. (Chapter 81) Yet by the AD 1300s, and certainly by the 1500s, it’s a forgone conclusion. BOD ‘wins’. It’s ‘proximate’ to dogma and nobody learned doubts it.
What happened? Why? How an unquestioning --- and ‘unquestionable’ --- stance?
It’s an intellectual shift. Literally. From focusing more on the will, theologians have gradually been emphasizing, more and more, the importance of the human intellect. It’s not a sudden thing, or done consciously, necessarily, in a public fashion that’s recognized openly. And yet it’s real… and all we’re doing is pointing out an apparently quiet shift in theological thinking. Whereas before any highly educated Catholic would have earnestly accentuated the status of one’s will, that it be good, rather than just intellect, what you know, the era of ‘baptism of desire’ dominance has ushered in a gradual & subtle shift toward the intellect. Not that Catholic theologians never thought the intellect important, what a person knows. Obviously, an adequately intelligent human being MUST KNOW ABOUT THE ONE TRUE FAITH, all of the Roman Catholic Church’s commands & dogmas, in order to have a Hope of Salvation. Rather, that the human will has become lost in the murkiness, so to speak. Or, to be more exact, with the dominance of BOD, entwined with the saturation of salvation heresy, it is now automatically assumed a person’s will is good. No human being is ever NOT good-willed, per them. The conundrum of evil human thinking & behavior? Viz., how to explain our sin? Unquestionably (no pun intended… much), it’s the result of ignorance alone.
See the distinction? This is where things start to get confused & murky.
And this is how ‘sincerity’ starts stealing the show, making apostasy.
Because it is not either / or. It’s both / and, with will coming first.
To wit, is your human will good, seeking the Divine Will of Our Creator above everything else? Or is your human will less good --- even bad --- seeking what’s created more than the Creator? In other words, do you want what God wants more than what you want? Or want what God doesn’t want you to want, things which are evil & abominable? What you want --- and what you’re willing to do in order to get what you want --- is that which determines the goodness or badness of your will. In the meantime, your intellect guides your will in these things. A real Catholic? Then you’ve no good excuse not to behave better. You know better, so you ought to will to do better. Not yet Catholic? Nevertheless, no good excuse when you’re adequately intelligent. You ought to be seeking to become Catholic, knowing there is One Religion Alone That Is True. It requires time to do so, of course. Yet endless time, especially with Heaven & angels assisting you? No. After a few years you start to become guilty. Guilty of not trying harder, guilty of not caring to seek at all, lazily assuming, out of thin air, that it doesn’t matter what you are or what you believe. Guilty of arrogantly assuming, out of thin air, that what you are and what you believe is impossible to be wrong, that you need never question, doubt, pray, search or ask for Our Creator to reveal to you what is true, and regardless of what you want to believe is true to begin with, what you were told to believe as a child or what you discovered later on in life, finding it to be appealing.
Getting it? It’s not just intellect, what you know. It’s goodness of will, over all.
Or, as may be, the lack thereof. For who seeks if you don’t want to know?
Therein lies the absolute necessity of possessing a truly good will.
BOD tends toward obscuring this rudimentary truth & necessity. Holding to the theological opinion of ‘baptism of desire’, even in its presently orthodox sense, tends toward causing the holder of this opinion to subtly elevate ‘what one knows’ over and above ‘what one wills’, as if ‘ignorance alone’ and a supposed ‘sincerity’ is all that can ever matter. Combined with the arrogance of Modernism & Modernist salvation heresy, people then --- constantly wanting to believe whatever they want to believe, despite it defying God’s Will & His One True Religion --- then always presume ‘good will’ is operating in whatever person is concerned. Even if hell existed, think they, no one possibly could ever go there since the person is ‘only’ ignorant whilst ‘sincere’.
Well, of course, unless you’re talking about Nazis or real Roman Catholics.
Such people always ‘go to hell’, and the modern is more than happy to believe in the existence of hell when it comes to them. After all, the ‘truly evil’ must be truly punished, eh? It’s not punishment that ultimately bothers a Modernist… it’s who gets punished. It disturbs them terribly that Roman Catholicism dares to tell them adequately intelligent non-Roman Catholics are always punished, dying in the state of lazy non-Catholicity. Hence why zealously Modernist Humanity is happy believing Catholics ‘go to hell’.
But even if you run into a ‘nice’ Modernist, who doesn’t automatically wish real Catholics to go to hell --- or who, wishing they could go there, doggedly upholds disbelief in the existence of hell --- the outcome is the same. Reinforcement of the nonsense of ‘ignorance’ and ‘sincerity’ being your ticket to Heaven if you wind up mistaken in the end. We don’t accuse the Scholastic theologians of this nonsense. We merely note how it paved the way for purportedly Catholic people to more easily buy wholeheartedly into such religious nonsense. Yet we do note… well, an odd double standard. For while orthodox, the Scholastics touted a strange linkage of two ideas.
That is to say, strange in relation to one another. You wouldn’t logically expect it.
On the one hand, as we saw in Chapters 56 & 129, the Scholastic theologians or their heirs were good at upholding ‘no Salvation outside the Church’ in its ancient, original, narrow & unchanging sense. They went so far as to say that, even if a human is raised in the wilderness by wolves, such a person has the Law of Natural Reason on one’s heart, and, in following that Law --- shunning evil and pursuing good --- how God Himself guarantees either infused knowledge of the Catholic Faith Whole & Entire in this individual’s mind, or else an angelic or human messenger to teach you the same.
Comprehend? Now take it the next step. If this is so, then why not the other?
Think about it. The Triune God of the Catholic Church is Omniscient, i.e., All-Knowing… so how could He not know that a human being is truly sincere and is in urgent need of His Catholic Religion Whole & Entire? And, being Omnipotent, i.e., All-Powerful, then how could He possibly not be able to get such a person this Singular Faith no matter where in the world he or she might be? Hm? Now extend the logic.
The Triune God of the Catholic Church is Omniscient… so how could he not know that a human being is truly sincere and is in urgent need of the Sacrament of Baptism and its life-giving water? And, being Omnipotent, then how could He possibly not be able to get such a person the sacramental water and therefore baptized validly no matter his or her situation? How could such a person possibly die ‘accidentally’ without God able to provide real baptism, either by doing so before death or else preventing death?
Do you see? This is almost a ‘double standard’. Why one but not the other?
Is God able & willing regarding Faith whilst ‘unwilling’ for Baptism?
Why then ‘must’ BOD exist when there’s no need for ‘faith of desire’?
Again, think about it. The Scholastic theologians in no way had a problem at all with the hypothetical human in the wilderness raised by wolves having GOOD WILL, ergo, he or she COOPERATING with the LAW OF NATURAL REASON upon his or her heart. And, consequently, God MAKES CERTAIN such a good-willed person receives His Roman Catholic Religion one way or another BEFORE HE OR SHE DIES. Hence, what’s the deal with them suddenly finding a problem with believing a catechumen possesses GOOD WILL, ergo, he or she COOPERATING with the LAW OF CHRIST (ROMAN CATHOLICISM) by pursuing instruction & reform through CATECHISM. And, consequently, God MAKES CERTAIN this good-willed catechumen receives the LIFE-GIVING WATER, one way or another, in His Sacrament of Baptism, regardless of supposedly ‘accidental’ circumstances?
Do you get it? This is a little bit mysterious. There seems to be a disconnect.
In reality, there’s a way to explain it. Nonetheless, the disconnect remains.
+++ 195. How This ‘Double Standard’ Is What +++
It Really Comes Down to, and Thus Why God Must,
This ‘double standard’ --- as it’s nearly fair to call it --- is the heart of the matter.
Resolve it, and the debate subsides. A debate that is not going away until the Great Apostasy goes away. That is to say, BOD helped play a role in the arising of the Great Apostasy; without it, Church leaders & thinkers could not have been overcome by subtle reasoning on behalf of salvation heresy. Or, at least, if more & more leaders & thinkers of the Church were becoming secret enemies of the True Faith (it is publicly documented, if a studious Catholic, that Freemasons, Communists & other stolidly anti-Catholic people infiltrated their own members into monasteries and the priesthood…), could never have gotten away with appearing to ‘induct’ salvation heresy into the Church under the guise of remaining perfectly ‘orthodox’ and not denying the infallible dogma of ‘no Salvation outside the Catholic Church’. And yet… this is what they’ve actually accomplished.
That part is over. We cannot undo the past. God permitted it to happen --- period.
What can we do, though? Is there anything real Roman Catholics can achieve?
To help solve this problem, that is. Assuming that you understand & care.
First off, you’ve already contributed to solving the problem if you truly comprehend the problem. That’s been part of the problem --- indeed, the foundation of the problem. Don’t understand? Then how are you going to be aware there’s a problem to begin with? Sense that something’s not quite right or needs to be cleared up? Okay, that’s better than being utterly clueless. Howsoever, you still need to comprehend the problem. Or else how are you going to solve it? Not much luck with that. You’ll be shooting in the dark.
Secondly, help other real Catholics --- however few they may be --- to comprehend the problem. That’s why I’ve written this book, to help others understand. (Surprise! Bet you couldn’t have guessed that!) Seriously, it’s up to them if they’ll listen. It’s up to them, as well, if they’ll strive to comprehend… particularly as to when it comes to why it’s very important to understand. Beyond that, unless God calls you to be a Catholic prophet or elevates you to high Church rank, then you’ve done as much as you can.
Third, pray that God is merciful and, not only dramatically increasing the Catholic membership and resurrecting the Hierarchy, but that He also grants the Gift of Wisdom to each & every one of us, making us of One Heart & One Mind, giving us, too, the Spirit of Unity so that we work together, humbly & charitably, to solve this dilemma. Pray for Christ’s Vicar, when returned to St. Peter’s Throne, that he take this issue gravely and, guided by the Holy Ghost, rule infallibly with adequate explicitness, so that we may know, finally, with absolute certainty where the answer lies.
Mind you, any wise & real Roman Catholic ought not to exalt the human intellect above the human will. Yet whether a future Bishop of Rome rules for BOD or WO, he ought to, in addition, clarify this overlooked gaffe, reminding Catholics the human will is not an immaterial thing, completely irrelevant to a person’s eternal fate. Yes, human intellect matters, too. We’re not saying it doesn’t. Nevertheless, it is secondary to the will. The intellect guides; the will decides. Good or evil? It’s ultimately the will that decides. Merely ‘knowing’ what is good is no guarantee that a person chooses good.
Fathom, my precious & beloved soul? This stupidity has to stop.
Christ through His Church’s Papacy must clear the matter up.
We must also erect a high barrier ’twixt intellect & will.
Only Jesus’ Papal Vicar can do this with finality.
It ought to be one of his high priorities.
Otherwise, things will not become better. And, even if God ends the Great Apostasy, Lucifer can use precisely the same ploy to fool people again. Or is the reader so naïve as to suppose that future generations actually learn from the past and are always sure to never repeat their ancestors’ mistakes? Ah, how charming. Your blind trust is sweet; notwithstanding, totally bonkers. If we don’t, by God’s Power, erect strong barriers, closing off loopholes, then satan --- who has no scruples about pursuing a winning strategy, regardless of the evil done (and that is his goal, you’ll recall…) --- shall, doubtlessly, strike again where he profited so much once before centuries ago.
To think to the contrary is to think wrongly. Or to not think. Whichever.
The result is identical --- the same old thing, over & over again.
+++ 196. Were a Pope to Try to Rule Incorrectly +++
But let’s say a future pope does soon rule.
And let’s say he’s not quite as wise as we could hope.
In other words, he holds the wrong theological opinion on baptism.
What then? That’s why he should exercise infallibility. Indisputably. Indubitably. Explicitly… so explicit there can never again be fights over this subject, or confusion. Not to mention whackos that go Catholic fundamentalist and needlessly hurt Catholics who are wiser, whilst misleading Catholics who are foolish. At any rate, why tolerate such mayhem in the Church’s Body? Any pope, any bishop, any priest, worth his salt would squelch such insanity & diabolic bewilderment with alacrity. That is not how Catholics are to be. It is not loving one another, or making Jesus’ Body stronger.
Now, if he attempts to rule mistakenly, invoking infallibility, then the Holy Ghost prevents him. I know not how the Third Person of the Holy Trinity might choose to act. Maybe He would give a pope a lucid dream the night before, instructing him. Or maybe the pope’s arm would be paralyzed or his hand uncontrollably shake were he to try to sign the infallible statement (this actually happened with a Byzantine emperor). Of course, Byzantine emperors don’t have the Charism of Infallibility. Yet if God does something like this with an emperor, who’s supposed to be Catholic and persecuting a doctrinally correct saint who’s doing the right thing according to the Triune God & His Roman Catholic Church… well, I mean, how hard is it to believe He might choose to behave similarly toward a pope who tries to infallibly define or condemn wrongly?
I’m not hoping for it, not predicting it --- it’s up to God. He holds all the cards.
He always has. Or didn’t you know that? If not, then please realize this truth:
It’s God’s Church, it’s His Creation. We’re His creatures, bearing His Image. It’s thoroughly up to Him, ultimately, what happens and how things turn out. We choose freely to act within this created world of His. We can be evil, or we can be good. It is within our freedom of will to determine this, inasmuch as Our Creator permits us to be alive and does not intervene in a supernatural way --- however subtle such intervention, or not --- or otherwise make clear to our often clouded minds that He opposes us and simply will not allow us to get away with vile sin or foolishness in corporeal life.
Now apply that principle to a true pope. Starting to see the implications?
The difference between the rest of us human beings and a legitimate Bishop of Rome, really, when you get down to it (and setting aside, for a moment, his stupendous duties as Supreme Religious Authority & Representative of Christ on earth), is that he alone, of all human beings, is gifted… or, rather, amazingly heavy burden placed upon his episcopal shoulders… with the Charism of Infallibility. Any Roman Catholic --- any human being willing to become Roman Catholic --- can partake in this Charism of Infallibility, rightly espousing what Jesus’ One True Religion teaches & commands, yet solely a Successor to St. Peter can clarify a Saving Truth by either defining or condemning with infallibility (to wit, a ‘never wrongness’), without notoriously & pertinaciously defying the irreformable meaning of such dogmas as known to any real Roman Catholic from beforehand. In the meantime, human beings who become truly Roman Catholic simply participate in this infallibility by rationally understanding & loyally professing what real popes properly teach, command & uphold. Got that? Catholics are a Body, the Body of the Divinity. Without a head on earth, this Sacred Ecclesial Body cannot function fully. Even so, God’s Catholic Body can rationally understand & loyally profess Infallible Truth, whoever the true member, despite the head being temporarily absent on earth.
But what is the point of this explanation? Why drive this home about popes?
Real popes are human, conceived in sin, therefore they can --- like any human being conceived in sin --- use their intelligence badly and exercise their will wickedly so as to fail to defend, undermine or even diabolically oppose that which is celestially precious & true. Yet when brave, wise, prudent & industrious, they are invaluable to any real Roman Catholic in comprehending the Infallible Truth of Jesus Christ via a proper defining or condemnation of that which is necessary or profitable to know rightly or better… but always --- we repeat, ALWAYS! --- without ever contradicting the original sense.
Again, the point? The original sense of the dogma of the Sacrament of Baptism is how it’s absolutely necessary to entrance into God’s Roman Catholic Church, which is God’s Singular Means of Salvation. This is not disputable. If of sound mind and claiming to be Catholic, then, to be truly Catholic, you must believe & profess it. End of sentence. And Scholastic theologians were no dummies. They knew this quite well. Hence why they’d regularly say, in one way or another, when the subject arose and it was necessary, that baptism, in its supposed BOD form, was NOT ‘another & separate baptism’, BUT a participation in the One & Single Sacrament of Baptism which God has given us, receiving it ‘flaminis’ (Latin for ‘of breath’, ‘of wind’, or, by extension, ‘of spirit’, meaning the Third Person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit, of course) if not ‘aquae’, accordingly, ‘fluminis’ (Latin for ‘of water’ --- the first --- or ‘of river’ --- the second --- meaning the actual matter, water, of the Sacrament of Baptism visibly administered and received). The gist? There are not really ‘three’ baptisms as recent catechisms & clergy, etc., have often carelessly said. There is only ONE baptism. The Scholastic theologians knew this to be true and did not dare, any of them to my knowledge, to say contrarily. ‘Baptism of desire’, if correct, was merely one of three ways to take part in a single Sacrament of Baptism, the other being the so-called ‘baptism of blood’. Or, to be exceedingly precise --- if a true & correct theological opinion --- it is God making, charitably, an ‘exception’ to His otherwise ‘necessity of means’ for water baptism.
And therein lies the confusion, put yet a different way. For if a ‘necessity of means’, consequently, then there is, by definition, never exceptions. And, yet… aren’t BOD or BOB, by logical thought & definition, EXCEPTIONS? Ergo, how is the Sacrament of Baptism a ‘necessity of means’? We’ve already grappled with this weird aspect of the theological opinion of ‘baptism of desire’ or ‘baptism of blood’ before in Baptismal Confusion, and it’s a big part of what makes baptism such a confusing, divisive & controversial subject amongst those who call themselves Catholic lately. After all, it cannot be both ways. Either it’s a ‘necessity of means’ and there are no exceptions; or else it’s a ‘necessity of precept’ and there can be an exception. So which is it? Scholastics got around this by the above reasoning. Namely, calling BOD & BOB two alternate ways to participate in ONE Sacrament of Baptism should ‘accidental’ death stop one’s solemn resolution, allied with perfect contrition for one’s sins (a perfect contrition made into an act of the sacrifice of one’s bodily life in martyrdom for the Roman Catholic Faith and thus the aforementioned ‘baptism of blood’), to get an actual water baptism which is validly administered in visible form & matter. The Scholastics also emphasized, to be fair, that one still needed to get actual water baptism should you, somehow, survive in spite of honestly thinking death imminent & unavoidable without the baptismal water. Ummm… but there’s the rub, isn’t it? As we remarked before, this is really about the sacramental water… isn’t it? And, though we’ve not stated it plainly before, too, it involves the sacramental words. Words, water? What is their importance? It’s not ‘only’ symbolic. That’s not Catholic (it’s Protestant). Therefore, form & matter, sacramentally speaking, are imperative to the Sacrament of Baptism. We thus ask:
Are the SACRAMENTAL WATER & WORDS of the Sacrament of Baptism a NECESSITY OF PRECEPT (once in awhile there can be an exception made, if an obstacle prevents obedience or you truly & inculpably cannot know that it is required), or are the SACRAMENTAL WATER & WORDS of the Sacrament of Baptism a NECESSITY OF MEANS (never can there be an exception made, for any reason whatsoever)? This is the REAL QUERY. All else is confusion & distraction. Resultantly, God either makes exceptions or He doesn’t. It’s that simple.
And this is what God eventually must, for His Church, via a Pope, clarify.
If not, then confusion remains, the devil has a toehold, and sin multiplies.
Oh, and, you do know… don’t you? …this is a matter of eternal fate.
So the next real pope better rule on this utterly vital topic with an absolute clarity. St. Peter’s next legitimate successor has a crucial moral obligation, as part of his ecclesial duties and supreme authority, exercising his Charism of Infallibility with an explicitness that leaves no doctrinal dust unswept and no dogmatic ‘loophole’ remaining. So that this confusion & controversy can be laid to rest, Lucifer left no route through which he may again attack & overcome like he has for the last several centuries, and people may not pretend to be ‘catholic’ when they’re not, and real Catholics avoid heresy & schism.
Only a pope can do this. Only the Charism of Infallibility can possibly achieve it.
And what has a pope to worry about when the Holy Ghost is safeguarding him?
That is, when he’s invoking the Charism of Infallibility, with explicitness.
Do you understand? This is what the next real pope should & must do.
If wise & prudent, with infallibility invoked, he’s nothing to dread.
The Spirit of Truth will look after him; Catholic Truth triumph.
And the battle of BOD vs. WO will be --- finally --- finished.
+++ 197. A Strange Yet Marvelous Idea, Rooted in +++
the Gospel of St. Matthew (Primarily Speaking, If
God’s Made the Water Absolutely Necessary,
Then Miracles Just Might Happen)
Some time ago… Chapter 118 of Baptismal Confusion, to be exact… we, with curious readers, wondered aloud, “Why did bishops & priests, near the turn of the 20th century, think it so important to teach about BOD in newly made, or edited, catechisms, to their laity? Why should their Roman Catholic flock have to know about this? And why did they, in their catechismal efforts, often --- if not usually or always --- claim Sacred Scripture supported this theological idea? And often --- if not usually or always --- completely fail to give biblical citations for their claim? Or, if given… but typically solely in more scholarly works… not really to the point. That is to say, okay, maybe one’s interpretation of that passage of Sacred Scripture can be made to ‘look’ like it supports BOD --- but, then again, it’s not a slam dunk. It can easily be made to look different, as if it has, really, nothing at all to do with BOD.” Don’t believe it? Well, remember Chapters 133 to 157? Right. We meticulously examined scripture and pondered the most popular arguments, at least in more recent times, for the two theological positions. And… guess what? The evidence is pretty flimsy.
And easily spun in either direction, depending upon your bias to start.
Ah, but the ‘need’ or ‘wish’ to suddenly inform all Catholics, around the turn of the twentieth century, of the BOD theological opinion? And teach them as if it’s ‘certain’ that it’s true? Nay, not just ‘certain’, but an absolute ‘dogma’! What’s the agenda?
If charitable, we may opine that they wanted to ‘reassure’ poor adult catechumens. Sudden & unexpected death? Why, no problem. BOD will ‘save’ you! In reality, the catechisms made around this time, and later, are aimed at instructing persons raised in Catholicism. Or, er, ostensibly Catholic. Meaning? That I don’t think the reason was to ‘reassure’ adult catechumens. So why go out of their way to raise a generation of young people to believe in the idea of BOD who were already long ago baptized at infancy? Eh? What’s the motivation, what’s the goal? Hate to get all conspiratorial on you, my beloved soul, yet do you recall us also noting, in Chapter 124, that, at the same time this ‘baptism of desire’ rules in these catechisms, the Modernist salvation heresy reigns, too? Are you putting two and two together? (Which make four, by the way… in case it’s slipped your mind.) Now, we can be gullible and imagine --- as if ‘nice’ and being ‘careful’ --- it’s sheer coincidence. I find this hard to swallow. If these catechisms are simultaneously teaching BOD and the heresy of ‘salvation-in-the-state-of-ignorance-and-sincerity’, however possibly can you imagine that this is ‘innocent chance’? The men making catechisms were not stupid. They were highly trained. Ergo, they either knew that salvation heresy was heresy and purposely wanted lay people to believe in it, or… actually buying into salvation heresy because it’s what they were being taught in the seminaries by the late 1800s… they very much wanted lay people to think that they, learned priests & bishops, were ‘justified’ in believing salvation heresy and ‘not’ in reality denying ‘no Salvation outside the Church’ in its original, ancient, narrow & correct sense, wanting the laity, as well, to believe the same thing. And, whether explained fully or not in a particular catechism, the ‘invincibly ignorant’ whilst completely non-Catholic soul of adequate intelligence getting into Heaven with ‘sincerity’ was precisely what they wanted this laity to believe in. Obviously!
Now finish the logical analysis. Most people, either not caring or very gullible, swallowed this religious lie whole. But if better trained, or more cautious, how did theologians, priests & bishops, not to mention monks & nuns, explain their novelty? Correct. Via a mangled interpretation of ‘implicit baptism of desire’. Voilà! Totally amazing religious-sleight-of-hand accomplished! The audience is dazzled. Lucifer appears as an ‘angel of light’ and no one is the wiser. Why should they be? They abominate the Saving Truth and think Roman Catholicism is mere ‘preference’. Everybody in a New World Order is free to believe as he or she wishes.
‘Catholicism’ must get with the times. Which times loathe the Church.
Again, doesn’t make the orthodox version of ‘baptism of desire’ inarguably into ‘falsehood’. Not even the orthodox conception of ‘implicit’ BOD is inarguably a ‘falsehood’ because of this. But it does send up a red flag. And makes me wary.
Which is why, right now, I prefer ‘water only’. It was good enough for the ancient Catholics. It also avoids, for now (unless a future legitimate pope carefully & explicitly rules otherwise with infallibility), the pitfalls of the recent past. Of mangling ‘implicit’ BOD and elevating human intellect over human will, to the point of presuming every human will as ‘sincere’ & ‘good’, whilst ignoring the self-evident fact that souls of adequate intelligence can never be ‘invincibly’ ignorant about the One True Faith.
Whither WO, then? If soon or eventually infallibly affirmed, what might we see?
In the Gospels, we find an enigmatic yet fascinating event at the Resurrection:
“And Jesus again crying with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost [gave up his soul, i.e., died]. And behold the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top even to the bottom [this signified how Christ’s Sacrifice rendered the division between an All Holy God and sinful yet penitent human beings no longer the case], and the rocks were rent [earthquake of mammoth strength shook at least Jerusalem fearfully, as well as opening subterranean regions or locales]. AND THE GRAVES WERE OPENED: AND MANY BODIES OF THE SAINTS [those just in God’s Sight] THAT HAD SLEPT [died, many long ago] AROSE [came back to life, physically]. And coming out of the tombs after his resurrection, came into the holy city, AND APPEARED TO MANY.” (Matthew 17:50-53 DRC)
wonder why this flabbergasting thing occurred? Probably not.
Those few who peruse the Bible hardly notice this brief account, or, puzzled,
pass over it not knowing what to think. And a very few have ventured the
suggestion that this was simply ‘proof’ of Christ’s Death
& Resurrection, of what it accomplished in hell. Plausible, I suppose, yet
not very convincing. Jesus’ appearance, after Resurrection, multiple
times to many persons --- once up to 500 disciples at
a single time (1 Corinthians 15:3-7) --- is more than ample evidence in and of
itself. Consequently, what is the ‘need’ for such godly people to
resurrect physically and then appear to many in
Provable? Not yet. Disprovable? No, indeed. Thinkable? Yes. Worth the effort?
Consider. If WO turns out to be infallibly true --- and papally defined as such --- absolutely nothing in Sacred Scripture or Sacred Tradition makes it ‘impossible’ to speculate, theologically, that this ‘necessity of means’ for the sacramental water can apply to every just soul in God’s Sight all through human history. To wit, we from 1 Peter 3:18-20 know how Christ, while in hell, preached to “those spirits that were in prison…” (DRC) This is catechism, and shows us that even souls in hell --- but who, ultimately, were just and not there permanently, being either, at first, in purgatory, or, eventually, in the ‘limbo of the fathers’ --- had to know & profess Jesus’ Catholicism Whole & Entire. And if this is true, why not the Sacrament of Baptism that goes along together with the Profession of Faith? Comprehending, dear & precious reader? Roman Catholicism is a duality of Profession (joining humans to the Roman Catholic Mind of Christ) and Baptism (joining humans to the Roman Catholic Body of Christ). There’s nothing, yet, in the Infallible Dogmas of the Catholic Church to rule out this thought. Accordingly, that God Himself has divinely willed, from eternity, to require baptism, sacramentally in the living flesh, with the proper form & matter, of every human ever, from beginning of creation to the end of creation, in this old world as we now know it. Astounding? Truly. Impossible? Not unless God’s Church infallibly & explicitly rules against it. And if, amazingly enough, this idea turns out to be true, then guess what?
God can allow catechumens to die ‘accidentally’ without water baptism because He knows they aren’t truly ‘sincere’. This can even be an Act of Mercy upon His Part since, with the Sacrament of Baptism, their punishment in hell for eternity would be even more horrendous. He can also do it to keep bad Catholics out of His Church. Whichever, there is still one more possibility, at the very least. An astounding possibility. What if, in He permitting some catechumens to die prior to water baptism, He does so NOT because they’re ‘insincere’ or would be bad Catholics. What if He does so because, refraining immediately to judge them with finality, He keeps their souls in abeyance, until, at a proper time, He resurrects them in their earthly bodies in order for them to receive sacramental water? After all, He has, both through His Divine Son and His Son’s marvelous Catholic saints, resurrected many a human being. This is not ‘fantasy’. Catholicism’s Triune Creator is perfectly capable of such a thing, if He wills.
And why would He will this? To test His Church, probing our hearts. How much do Catholics love Him? Above all things? And His Dogmas & Commandments along with Him? More than anything else? And, confronted with baptismal confusion and eventual apostasy, here at the end of creation as we know it, what if this is one of His final tests? What if, in passing through this fiery refinement, clinging to the Sacrament of Baptism and the Salvation Dogma, realizing that BOD was a mistaken theological opinion and unintentional doorway for the ‘justification’ of filthy Modernist salvation heresy, He reveals, with many resurrected catechumens, whether martyred or not, the truth of baptism’s absolute necessity, they confirming it by seeking only for the life-giving sacramental water, and testifying to the rightness of a potential papal ruling, with infallible explicitness, upholding the same? What then? What then would result?
Right, lots of people converted to the One True Religion, or confirmed in it, the controversy resolved with resounding clarity, both papally & miraculously, with Catholics from then on treating the Laver of Regeneration with a much greater veneration, holy respect & solemn piety. It would make us better Catholics.
Can I prove this? No. Do I have to? No. But a tantalizing prospect? Yes. Wouldn’t it be something if it actually happened. We’d be changed. And the world would never again be the same. Like Jesus Christ, Who bodily resurrected and turned the earth upside down.
His Ecclesial Body awaits resurrection, entombed. Living Water, that He empowered, resurrects the dead of soul & body. We know this is true spiritually, in the invisible realm, which we don’t usually see. But sometimes God makes visible the invisible.
Satanic zombies walk earth right now. What if resurrected saints did the same?
+ + +
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 Five of Baptismal Confusion (Chapters 106-132)
Part Six of Baptismal Confusion (Chapters 133-169)
+ + +
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