Not Yet Ruled Out
the Possibility of So-
Called ‘Baptism of
+ + +
Are Not to Be Believed When They
Claim That the Catholic Church Has Infallibly
Forbidden the Opinion That Catechumens Can Die
‘Accidentally’ Without Water Baptism and Still Enter
Heaven --- And Despite Any Personal Belief
That This Opinion Is Wrong
COMPOSED & EDITED MARCH 2010.
+ + +
“Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell in unity: like the precious ointment on the head, that ran down upon the beard, the beard of Aaron, which ran down to the skirt of his garment: as the dew of Hermon, which descendeth upon mount Sion. For there the Lord hath commanded blessing, and life for evermore.” (Psalm 132:1-3 DRC)
+ + +
Intended by the Author of This Book
for the Greater Glory of the Adorable Triune Catholic God,
Worship of the Sacred Heart of King Jesus Christ of
for the Praise of the Immaculate Heart of Queen Mary, the Blessed Ever-
Virgin Mother of God,
unto the Protection & Propagation of the Holy Roman Catholic Church &
Her Most Precious Heavenly Dogmas,
under the Euphonious Patronage of St. Cecilia, the Eloquent Patronage
Ven. Mariana de Jesus Torres, Virgins &
“Domine, non est exaltatum cor meum, neque elati sunt oculi mei. Neque ambulavi in
magnis, neque in mirabilibus super me. Si non humiliter sentiebam, sed exaltavi animam
meam; sicut ablactatus est super matre sua, ita retributio in anima
in Domino, ex hoc nunc et usque in saeculum.” (Psalmus CXXX,Vulgata)
St. Francis Xavier, Patron of Catholic Missioners, Ss. Catherine of Alexandria & Francis of Sales, Patrons of Catholic Philosophers & Apologists, respectively, and St. Peter of Verona, the Glorious Martyr, may you be pleased to guide this arrow to its target, either unto eternal life or eternal death! “Now thanks be to God, who always maketh us to triumph in Christ Jesus, and manifesteth the odour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are the good odour of Christ unto God, in them that are saved, and in them that perish. To the one indeed the odour of death unto death: but to the others the odour of life unto life.” (2 Corinthians 2:14-16b DRC)
St. Francis of Assisi, Humble Seraph of the Incarnate God, and St. Dominic the Preacher, Dogged Cherub of the Triune Deity, pray for your children that they may not fail the test but suffer the malice of the wicked gladly and so gain the Crown of Life!
+ + +
A NOTE TO THE READER:
This is an excerpt from a letter I wrote earlier this year to a
former Catholic brother who is in schism against me over, amongst other things,
the necessity of water baptism. It is his contention that water baptism is an
absolute necessity of means. That is, God never makes an exception to
the rule that a man be baptized properly with water in order to enter the
This is my position, too --- that a human being must, without any exceptions, have a valid baptism of water in order to have any real hope of entering into Heaven after this earthly life. Period.
Where, then, lies our disagreement?
He has become a ‘catholic fundamentalist’ --- about which you may learn more in the article, The Hideous Schism of Catholic Fundamentalism --- and claims the Church infallibly forbids believing that a catechumen (someone learning the Faith to enter the Church via Baptism) can die ‘accidentally’ while nevertheless entering Heaven, possibly, due to a ‘perfect contrition’ and his goal to be baptized in water had not this so-called ‘accident’ stopped him. Meanwhile, I firmly disagree. And I disagree because he twists the Magisterium’s words thus far about Baptism to grossly misinterpret their intended meaning.
As a result, he accuses me of being a ‘heretic’… not because I think Baptism is symbolic or optional, and not because I think catechumens can enter Heaven without water baptism due to ‘accidental’ death (the former position is heretical and the latter erroneous)… but because I dare to say that a Catholic can hold the latter option and still be truly Catholic. And while I don’t think this excerpt is exhaustively thorough, it’s enough to show a good willed man the simple good sense and excellent evidence against his schismatic stance. A stance that is schismatic because he judges wrongly what the Magisterium actually says --- pretending to be ‘infallible’ in this judgment of his --- and hence judges wrongly that his opponent is ‘heretical’ for doing so, shunning entirely (not just religiously) the opponent as a consequence.
Dear reader, are you Catholic and trying to comprehend why this stance is wrong? Then this brief little article is for you. Or are you Catholic and hold this stance but --- contrary to my schismatic brother --- don’t pretend you are infallible and thus incapable of interpreting the sometimes hard-to-understand words of the Magisterium wrongly? Then this brief little article is especially for you. But whether or not willing to read it in a humble spirit, my dear reader, you are now on the hook. That is to say, you are now fully responsible in the eyes of God Almighty for the very objective & grave sin of spreading this horribly mistaken & schismatic position against your fellow Catholics. I’ve tweaked the excerpt to fit the context of this posting, adding a few things in brackets at three places, the words otherwise wholly unchanged. May anything true or praiseworthy in this work be attributed to the efforts of the Triune God of the Catholic Church through the Immaculate Hands of the Blessed Ever-Virgin Mary. And may anything false or blameworthy be laid firmly in accusation at my own wayward feet.
1. Pretty Much All Catholics Believed in ‘Baptism
+++ of Desire’ for Catechumens by the 2nd Millenium +++
And now, my dear soul, there remain but a few items left to address.
Namely, one, the BOD bogie. [BOD is acronymic shorthand for ‘baptism of desire’, a phrase made popular in the last few centuries and which has replaced the more ancient --- and far more appropriate --- term of ‘baptism of fire’, i.e., a baptism of the Holy Spirit alone without the corresponding baptism of water.] And, my poor man, your position is evidence that either you were not listening carefully when you & I talked this whole issue out by phone circa 2003 (you’ll recall that I at first held your present position, then changed later on), or else you have become a Catholic fundamentalist, doing the same thing with magisterial quotes that Protestant fundamentalists do with scriptural quotes, pretending to be quite literal in their interpretations and thus infallibly correct, while in reality both Protestants mangle the real meaning of the Bible left-and-right and so-called Catholics distort the real meaning of the Magisterium with abandon.
Because, my precious soul, it becomes unmistakably clear to the honest & intelligent man as he pores through pages & pages of writings from the early Church Fathers, the Saints, the Doctors, the Popes and the Theologians, across the centuries from AD 30 to AD 1900, that the notion of catechumens dying ‘accidentally’ without the Sacrament of Baptism whilst still, possibly, going to Heaven, is a common opinion amongst Roman Catholics from at least the 3rd century onward.
It does not waver, whether after Pope Leo’s doctrinal letter in the 5th century or after the Council of Trent’s second & fifth canons on Baptism in the 16th century, or what-have-you. [St. Thomas Aquinas is especially irrefutable proof of this. The greatest of all the Scholastic Doctors near the beginning of the second millennium, any smart student knows that he at least two times in his Summa Theologica clearly upheld the notion of catechumenic BOD. E.g.:
“…a man may, without Baptism of Water, receive the sacramental effect from Christ’s Passion, in so far as he is conformed to Christ by suffering for Him… In like manner a man receives the effect of Baptism by the power of the Holy Ghost, not only without Baptism of Water, but also without Baptism of Blood: forasmuch as his heart is moved by the Holy Ghost to believe in and love God and to repent of his sins… Thus, therefore, each of these other Baptisms is called Baptism, forasmuch as it takes the place of Baptism…” [Book 3, Q66, A11, all emphases added.] As well, “Secondly, the sacrament of Baptism may be wanting [lacking] to anyone in reality but not in resolution: for instance, when a man wishes to be baptized, but by some ill-chance he is forestalled by death before receiving Baptism. Moreover, such a man can obtain salvation without being actually baptized, on account of his resolution for Baptism, which resolution is the outcome of ‘faith that works by charity’ [Galations 5:6], whereby God, Whose power is not tied to visible sacraments, sanctifies man inwardly…” [Book 3, Q68, A2, all emphases & annotations added.]
Indeed, so great was his sway in succeeding centuries that the Council of Trent is said to have placed a copy of his Summa, along with Sacred Scripture, at the head of all of their sessions in the presence of the conciliar fathers.] X would have us believe that this is simply because Saints, and even Doctors of the Church, etc., were ignorant of these doctrinal statements. Hence, say they, these Catholics were not guilty of formal heresy since they didn’t know what the Catholic Church had actually infallibly said about the absolute necessity of Baptism.
Meanwhile, Y would have us believe that there is no immediate explanation for the mystery --- he quite plainly admits that he simply does not know how Catholics could espouse this catechumenic BOD position in spite of what he takes to be the Church’s infallible definitions against it. Or, at least, this was his position last year. Perchance he has changed his opinion since then. I don’t know, because I don’t have time to minutely monitor every website out there that claims to be Catholic on a regular basis.
I do know this, though:
If X or Y or you are correct --- that the Infallible Magisterium has already ruled out the possibility of BOD for ‘accidentally dead’ catechumens --- then the Great Apostasy has reigned since at least the 1500s, and, very arguably, since the 400s. Because not only have Catholics not eschewed the catechumenal BOD opinion since the time of any of those doctrinal statements, but it has been an opinion so common that it can be reasonably said that it had become the de facto opinion of most --- if not all --- members of the Church by the turn of the second millennium.
End of sentence.
And the explanation of ‘ignorance’ doesn’t cut it. Because, first of all, who is to say that ignorance about this matter is excusable? There are some things so basic, so necessary, that ignorance cannot excuse you. For instance, could a grown man not know or grasp the Apostle’s Creed and be called ‘catholic’ just because he was baptized? And, second of all, who’s to say that all of these Fathers, Doctors, Saints, Popes & Theologians were ignorant about all of these doctrinal statements, whether from Pope Leo I, the Council of Florence, or the Tridentine Council? This is absurd! Surely over hundreds of years at least some of these learned & pious men would have read the magisterial statements to which you and your comrades refer, realizing that they infallibly ruled out the BOD catechumen opinion.
+++ as Is Proven by the Roman Catechism re Baptism +++
For example, we know that St. Charles Borromeo edited the Catechism of the Council of Trent. That is to say, he was responsible for overseeing the entire effort, and even though he didn’t write everything in it. And yet, as any smart student knows, this Catechism plainly upholds the BOD catechumen position in its section on Baptism. Y claims this is not so in the Latin text of the original, but this is manifestly false. I know, because I’ve checked the original Latin text. And it is starkly evident that the original Latin that Borromeo approved --- and which Pius V later approved after him --- supports the idea of catechumens dying ‘accidentally’ whilst still able to be saved. We repeat:
The original Latin of the Tridentine Catechism clearly supports the catechumenal BOD position. Y makes much of a word being translated as ‘impediment’, whereas it’s rendered “impossible” in a popular 1923 English version, but this is specious. Whether ‘impediment’ or “impossible”, the overall sense of the passage is plain --- and it plainly upholds the BOD catechumen stance. Indeed, the only reason Y reads into this passage what it doesn’t truly & explicitly say, is that he’d have a very serious problem were he to admit the obvious --- that it upholds BOD.
[This is made the more stark by close study
of canonized saints since the 16th century. For instance, St. Robert
Bellarmine, who in his monumental work against
Protestant heresy, De Ecclesia Militante (which was published by 1577, apparently),
states, “…there are those who belong
to the soul [of the Church] and not the body, as [are] catechumens or the
excommunicated, if indeed they have charity [the state of grace], which can
happen.” And also, “Catechumens, however, if not in re [Latin for ‘in
reality’] at least in voto [Latin for ‘in resolution’] are in
the Church and are therefore able
to be saved.” [Book
3, Chapter 3, all emphases & annotations added.]
Now, my poor dear soul, you tell me… how is it that St. Charles Borromeo or St.
Pius V were ‘ignorant’ of Canons 2 & 5 from the Council of
Do you see?
There is no way to get around it. Either Charles Borromeo and Pius V are flaming heretics according to you, and all of the men who have approved of them and their catechism, too (and the Great Apostasy began in earnest no later than all the way back in the 1500s, the supposed ‘popes’ since then having been all of them in reality antipopes!), or else Canons 2 & 5 on Baptism don’t actually mean what people like you insist.
And so it is. The logically necessary explanation is that X, Y, you, and so forth and so on --- as well as me for a short time at the beginning of the ’00s --- have misinterpreted the statements of the Infallible Magisterium. To wit, the Fathers of the Tridentine Council never intended to address the issue of catechumens dying ‘accidentally’ without baptism. They never used explicit language to show that this is what they were addressing, and the catechumenal BOD position does not pretend that Baptism of Water is ‘optional’ --- merely that the Triune God of the Catholic Church permits ‘exceptions’ to the otherwise unbreakable rule.
Consequently, the Tridentine Fathers were addressing Protestant denial of the necessity of Baptism --- not the notion of catechumenal BOD. And they were telling Catholics, as well as any Protestants who would listen, that the Sacrament of Baptism was not merely symbolic & optional. That is to say, that a man must be baptized in water if at all possible, that this is God’s normally unbreakable law.
Meanwhile, most, if not all, of these men at the Council held to the notion of catechumenal BOD --- although it was not called ‘baptism of desire’ at the time (this terminology came later, nearer to modern times). Thus why Charles Borromeo & Pius V could approve of the Catechism of the Council of Trent with its passage upholding catechumenal BOD in the section on Baptism. Because they, like pretty much every single Roman Catholic since the era of the Scholastic Doctors, believed that God made ‘exceptions’ to the otherwise absolute necessity of Baptism of Water for a man to enter Eternal Life when it came to a catechumen dying ‘accidentally’.
An opinion that, while I believe it to be logically flawed and totally erroneous, has nevertheless not yet ever been explicitly & infallibly addressed by the Church one way or another. As a result, I cannot rule out infallibly that it is acceptable and hence orthodox. Nor can you. Nor can X, nor can Y. Because none of us are popes, and thus none of us are infallible.
+ + +
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