There is only one way to believe dogma: as holy mother Church has once declared.
Pope Pius IX, First Vatican Council, Sess. 3, Chap. 2 on Revelation, 1870, ex cathedra: “Hence, also, that understanding of its sacred dogmas must be perpetually retained, which Holy Mother Church has once declared; and there must never be a recession from that meaning under the specious name of a deeper understanding.” One of the main problems with most traditional “Catholic” groups and the heretical Second Vatican Council - the Vatican II “Church” - is the constant and obstinate deviation from the true literal meaning as the dogmas once was infallibly declared. As we learn above, there can never be a recession from the true meaning of the dogmas as they were once declared under the specious name of deeper understanding. Thus we are forced to accept the dogmas as they are written under pain of mortal sin.
This definition of the First Vatican Council is critically important for dogmatic purity, because the primary way the Devil attempts to corrupt Christ’s doctrines is by getting men to recede (move away) from the Church’s dogmas as they were once declared. There is no meaning of a dogma other than what the words themselves state and declare, so the Devil tries to get men to “understand” and “interpret” these words in a way that is different from how holy mother Church has declared them.
Many of us have dealt with people who have attempted to explain away the clear meaning of the definitions on Outside the Church There is No Salvation by saying, “you must understand them.” What they really mean is that you must understand them in a way different from what the words themselves state and declare. And this is precisely what the First Vatican Council condemns. It condemns their moving away from the understanding of a dogma which holy mother Church has once declared to a different meaning, under the specious (false) name of a “deeper understanding.”
Besides those who argue that we must “understand” dogmas in a different way than what the words themselves state and declare, there are those who, when presented with the dogmatic definitions on Outside the Church There is No Salvation, say, “that is your interpretation.” They belittle the words of a dogmatic formula to nothing other than one’s private interpretation. And this also is heresy. For its not our own interpretation which defines the dogmas, the dogmas define themselves, as have been shown. A person claiming otherwise will make himself guilty of bearing false witness. And this also is mortal sin.
THOSE WHO DIE IN ORIGINAL SIN OR MORTAL SIN DESCEND INTO HELL As I have proven above, there is no possible way for children to be freed from original sin other than through the Sacrament of Baptism. This, of course, proves that there is no way for infants to be saved other than through the Sacrament of Baptism. So the following definitions merely affirm what has already been established: no child can possibly enter the kingdom of Heaven without receiving water baptism, but will rather descend into Hell.
Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, “Letentur coeli,” Sess. 6, July 6, 1439, ex cathedra: “We define also that… the souls of those who depart this life in actual mortal sin, or in original sin alone, go straightaway to hell, but to undergo punishments of different kinds.”
Pope Pius VI, Auctorem fidei, Aug. 28, 1794: “26. The doctrine which rejects as a Pelagian fable, that place of the lower regions (which the faithful generally designate by the name of the limbo of the children) in which the souls of those departing with the sole guilt of original sin are punished with the punishment of the condemned, exclusive of the punishment of fire, just as if, by this very fact, that these who remove the punishment of fire introduced that middle place and state free of guilt and of punishment between the kingdom of God and eternal damnation, such as that about which the Pelagians idly talk” – Condemned as false, rash, injurious to Catholic schools.
Here Pope Pius VI condemns the idea of some theologians that infants who die in original sin suffer the fires of Hell. At the same time, he confirms that these infants do go to a part of the lower regions (i.e., Hell) called the limbo of the children. They do not go to Heaven, but to a place in Hell where there is no fire. This is perfectly in accord with all of the other solemn definitions of the Church, which teach that infants who die without water baptism descend into Hell, but suffer a punishment different from those who die in mortal sin. Their punishment is eternal separation from God.
Pope Pius XI, Mit brennender Sorge (# 25), March 14, 1937: “‘Original sin’ is the hereditary but impersonal fault of Adam’s descendants, who have sinned in him (Rom. v. 12). It is the loss of grace, and therefore eternal life, together with a propensity to evil, which everybody must, with the assistance of grace, penance, resistance and moral effort, repress and conquer.”
THE UNBAPTIZED CHILDREN AND THE LIMBO OF THE CHILDREN The Catholic Church teaches that aborted children and infants who die without baptism descend immediately into Hell, but that they do not suffer the fires of Hell. They go to a place in Hell called the limbo of the children. The most specific definition of the Church proving that there is no possible way for an infant to be saved without the Sacrament of Baptism is the following one from Pope Eugene IV.
Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, Session 11, Feb. 4, 1442, ex cathedra: “Regarding children, indeed, because of danger of death, which can often take place, when no help can be brought to them by another remedy than through the sacrament of baptism, through which they are snatched from the domination of the Devil [original sin] and adopted among the sons of God, it advises that holy baptism ought not be deferred for forty or eighty days, or any time according to the observance of certain people…” (Denz. 712)
Pope Eugene IV here defined from the Chair of Peter that there is no other remedy for infants to be snatched away from the dominion of the devil (i.e., original sin) other than the Sacrament of Baptism. This means that anyone who obstinately teaches that infants can be saved without receiving the Sacrament of Baptism is a heretic, for he is teaching that there is another remedy for original sin in children other than the Sacrament of Baptism.
Pope Martin V, Council of Constance, Session 15, July 6, 1415 - Condemning the articles of John Wyclif - Proposition 6: “Those who claim that the children of the faithful dying without sacramental baptism will not be saved, are stupid and presumptuous in saying this.” - Condemned The arch-heretic John Wyclif was proposing that those (such as ourselves) are stupid for teaching that infants who die without water (i.e., sacramental) baptism cannot possibly be saved.He was anathematized for this assertion, among many others.And here is what the Council of Constance had to say about John Wyclif’s anathematized propositions, such as #6 above.
Pope Martin V, Council of Constance, Session 15, July 6, 1415: “The books and pamphlets of John Wyclif, of cursed memory, were carefully examined by the doctors and masters of Oxford University… This holy synod, therefore, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, repudiates and condemns, by this perpetual decree, the aforesaid articles and each of them in particular; and it forbids each and every Catholic henceforth, under pain of anathema, to preach, teach, or hold the said articles or any one of them.”
So those who criticize Catholics for affirming the dogma that no infant can be saved without the Sacrament of Baptism are actually proposing the anathematized heresy of John Wyclif. Here are some other dogmatic definitions on the topic:
Pope St. Zosimus, The Council of Carthage, Canon on Sin and Grace, 417 A.D.- “It has been decided likewise that if anyone says that for this reason the Lord said: ‘In my Father’s house there are many mansions’ [John 14:2]: that it might be understood that in the kingdom of heaven there will be some middle place or some place anywhere where the blessed infants live who departed from this life without baptism, without which they cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven, which is life eternal, let him be anathema.” (Denz. 102, authentic addition to canon 2.)
Pope Paul III, The Council of Trent, On Original Sin, Session V, ex cathedra: “If anyone says that recently born babies should not be baptized even if they have been born to baptized parents; or says that they are indeed baptized for the remission of sins, but incur no trace of the original sin of Adam needing to be cleansed by the laver of rebirth for them to obtain eternal life, with the necessary consequence that in their case there is being understood a form of baptism for the remission of sins which is not true, but false: let him be anathema.” (Denz. 791) This means that anyone who asserts that infants don’t need the “laver of rebirth” (water baptism) to attain eternal life is teaching heresy. St. Augustine was perhaps the most outspoken proponent of the apostolic truth that infants who die without Baptism are excluded from the Kingdom of Heaven (since they have original sin).
St. Augustine, A.D. 415: “Anyone who would say that infants who pass from this life without participation in the Sacrament [of Baptism] shall be made alive in Christ truly goes counter to the preaching of the Apostle and condemns the whole Church, where there is great haste in baptizing infants because it is believed without doubt that there is no other way at all in which they can be made alive in Christ.” (Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol. 3: 2016.)
The Revelations of St. Bridget also corroborates this infallible dogmatic truth revealed by God in Book 5, Interrogation 6:
First question. Again he appeared on his ladder as before, saying: "O Judge, I ask you: Why does one infant emerge alive from the mother's womb and obtain baptism, while another, having received a soul, dies in the mother's belly?"
Answer to the first question. The Judge answered: "You ask why one infant dies in the mother's belly while another emerges alive. There is a reason. All the strength of the child's body comes, of course, from the seed of its father and mother; however, if it is conceived without due strength, because of some weakness of its father or mother, it dies quickly. As a result of the negligence or carelessness of the parents as well as of my divine justice, many times it happens that what was joined together comes apart quickly.
Yet a soul is not brought to the harshest punishment for this reason, however little time it had for giving life to the body, but, rather, it comes to the mercy that is known to me. Just as the sun shining into a house is not seen as it is in its beauty - only those who look into the sky see its rays - so too the souls of such children, though they do not see my face for lack of baptism, are nevertheless closer to my mercy than to punishment, but not in the same way as my elect." - The Revelations of St. Bridget, Book 5, Interrogation 6, Question 1
“But consider my goodness and mercy! For, as the teacher says, I give virtue to those who do not have any virtue. By reason of my great love I give the kingdom of heaven to all of the baptized who die before reaching the age of discretion. As it is written: It has pleased my Father to give the kingdom of heaven to such as these. By reason of my tender love, I even show mercy to the infants of pagans. If any of them die before reaching the age of discretion, given that they cannot come to know me face to face, they go instead to a place that it is not permitted for you to know but where they will live without suffering.” - The Revelations of St. Bridget, Book 2, Chapter 1
These fascinating sentences clearly affirm infallible Catholic dogma by teaching that no one can see God's face without water baptism. Yet, they also give us explicit confirmation that these children are in a state of light and mercy, though not in the same way as those in Heaven.
BAPTISM OF BLOOD AND BAPTISM OF DESIRE – ERRONEOUS TRADITIONS OF MAN In this document, I have shown that the Catholic Church infallibly teaches that the Sacrament of Baptism is necessary for salvation. I have also shown that it is only through receiving the Sacrament of Baptism that one is incorporated into the Catholic Church, outside of which there is no salvation. I have also shown that the Catholic Church infallibly teaches that the words of Jesus Christ in John 3:5 – Amen, amen I say unto thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God – are to be understood literally: as they are written. This is the infallible teaching of the Church and it excludes any possibility of salvation without being born again of water and the Holy Ghost. However, throughout the history of the Church, many have believed in the theories called baptism of desire and baptism of blood: that one’s desire for the Sacrament of Baptism or one’s martyrdom for the faith supplies for the lack of being born again of water and the Holy Ghost. Those who believe in baptism of blood and baptism of desire raise certain objections to the absolute necessity of receiving the Sacrament of Baptism for salvation. I will respond to some of the major objections made by baptism of desire and blood advocates; and in the process, I will give an overview of the history of the errors of baptism of desire and baptism of blood. In doing this I will demonstrate that neither baptism of blood nor baptism of desire is a teaching of the Catholic Church.
THE FATHERS ARE UNANIMOUS FROM THE BEGINNING The Fathers (or prominent early Christian Catholic writers) are unanimous from the beginning that no one enters heaven or is freed from original sin without water baptism.
In 140 A.D., the early Church Father Hermas quotes Jesus in John 3:5, and writes:
“They had need to come up through the water, so that they might be made alive; for they could not otherwise enter into the kingdom of God.”
This statement is obviously a paraphrase of John 3:5, and thus it demonstrates that from the very beginning of the apostolic age it was held and taught by the fathers that no one enters heaven without being born again of water and the Spirit based specifically on Our Lord Jesus Christ’s declaration in John 3:5.
In 155 A.D., St. Justin the Martyr writes:
“… they are led by us to a place where there is water; and there they are reborn in the same kind of rebirth in which we ourselves were reborn… in the name of God… they receive the washing of water. For Christ said, ‘Unless you be reborn, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.’ The reason for doing this we have learned from the apostles.”
Notice that St. Justin Martyr, like Hermas, also quotes the words of Jesus in John 3:5, and based on Christ’s words he teaches that it is from apostolic tradition that no one at all can enter Heaven without being born again of water and the Spirit in the Sacrament of Baptism.
In his dialogue with Trypho the Jew, also dated 155 A.D., St. Justin Martyr further writes:
“… hasten to learn in what way forgiveness of sins and a hope of the inheritance… may be yours. There is no other way than this: acknowledge Christ, be washed in the washing announced by Isaias [Baptism]…”
St. Cyril of Jerusalem, 350 A.D.:
“He says, ‘Unless a man be born again’ – and He adds the words ‘of water and the Spirit’ – he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God…..if a man be virtuous in his deeds, but does not receive the seal by means of the water, shall he enter into the kingdom of heaven. A bold saying, but not mine;for it is Jesus who has declared it.”
We see that St. Cyril continues the apostolic Tradition that no one enters heaven without being born again of water and the Spirit, based again on an absolute understanding Our Lord’s own words in John 3:5.
Pope St. Damasus, 382 A.D.:
“This, then, is the salvation of Christians: that believing in the Trinity, that is, in the Father, and in the Son and in the Holy Spirit, and baptized in it…”
St. Ambrose, 387 A.D.:
“… no one ascends into the kingdom of heaven except through the Sacrament of Baptism.”
St. Ambrose, 387 A.D.:
“‘Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.’ No one is excepted: not the infant, not the one prevented by some necessity.”
St. Ambrose, De mysteriis, 390-391 A.D.:
“You have read, therefore, that the three witnesses in Baptism are one: water, blood, and the spirit; and if you withdraw any one of these, the Sacrament of Baptism is not valid. For what is water without the cross of Christ? A common element without any sacramental effect. Nor on the other hand is there any mystery of regeneration without water: for ‘unless a man be born again of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.’ [John 3:5]Even a catechumen believes in the cross of the Lord Jesus, by which also he is signed; but, unless he be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, he cannot receive the remission of sins nor be recipient of the gift of spiritual grace.”
St. John Chrysostom, 392 A.D.:
“Weep for the unbelievers; weep for those who differ not a whit from them, those who go hence without illumination, without the seal! … They are outside the royal city…. with the condemned. ‘Amen, I tell you, if anyone is not born of water and the Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
St Augustine, 395 A.D.:
“… God does not forgive sins except to the baptized.”
Pope St. Innocent, 414 A.D.:
“But that which Your Fraternity asserts the Pelagians preach, that even without the grace of Baptism infants are able to be endowed with the rewards of eternal life, is quite idiotic.”
Pope St. Gregory the Great, c. 590 A.D.:
“Forgiveness of sin is bestowed on us only by the baptism of Christ.”
Theophylactus, Patriarch of Bulgaria, c. 800 A.D.:
“He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved. It does not suffice to believe; he who believes, and is not yet baptized,but is only a catechumen, has not yet fully acquired salvation.”
Many other passages could be quoted from the fathers, but it is a fact that the fathers of the Church are unanimous from the beginning of the apostolic age that no one at all can be saved without receiving the Sacrament of Baptism, based on the words of Jesus Christ in John 3:5. The eminent Patristic Scholar Fr. William Jurgens, who has literally read thousands of texts from the fathers, was forced to admit the following (even though he believes in baptism of desire) in his three volume set on the fathers of the Church.
Fr. William Jurgens: “If there were not a constant tradition in the Fathers that the Gospel message of ‘Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost he cannot enter into the kingdom of God’ is to be taken absolutely, it would be easy to say that Our Savior simply did not see fit to mention the obvious exceptions of invincible ignorance and physical impossibility. But the tradition in fact is there; and it is likely enough to be found so constant as to constitute revelation.”
The eminent scholar Fr. Jurgens is admitting here three important things:
1) The fathers are constant in their teaching that John 3:5 is absolute with no exceptions; that is, no one at all enters heaven without being born again of water and the Spirit;
2) The fathers are so constant on this point that it likely constitutes divine revelation, without even considering the infallible teaching of the popes;
3) The constant teaching of the fathers that all must receive water baptism for salvation in light of John 3:5 excludes exceptions for the “invincibly ignorant” or “physically impossible” cases.
And based on this truth, declared by Jesus in the Gospel (John 3:5), handed down by the Apostles and taught by the fathers, the Catholic Church has infallibly defined as a dogma (as we have seen already) that no one at all enters heaven without the Sacrament of Baptism.
Pope Paul III, The Council of Trent, Canon 5 on the Sacrament of Baptism, ex cathedra: “If anyone says that baptism is optional, that is, not necessary for salvation (John. 3:5): let him be anathema.”
NOT ALL OF THE FATHERS REMAINED CONSISTENT WITH THEIR OWN AFFIRMATION Despite the fact that there is a constant tradition from the beginning that no one at all is saved without water baptism, not all of the fathers always remained consistent with their own affirmation on this point. And that is where we come across the theories of “baptism of blood” and “baptism of desire.” It must be understood that the fathers of the Church were mistaken and inconsistent with their own teaching and the apostolic Tradition on many points – since they were fallible men who made many errors.
The fathers of the Church are only a definite witness to Tradition when expressing a point held universally and constantly or when expressing something that is in line with defined dogma. Taken individually or even in multiplicity, they can be dead wrong and even dangerous. St. Basil the Great said that the Holy Ghost is second to the Son of God in order and dignity, in a horrible and even heretical attempt to explain the Holy Trinity.
St. Basil (363): “The Son is not, however, second to the Father in nature, because the Godhead is one in each of them, and plainly, too, in the Holy Spirit, even if in order and dignity He is second to the Son (yes, this we do concede!), though not in such a way, it is clear, that He were of another nature.”
When St. Basil says above that the Godhead is one in Father, Son and Holy Spirit, he is correctly affirming the universal, apostolic Tradition. But when he says that the Holy Spirit is second in dignity to the Son he ceases to remain consistent with this Tradition and falls into error (material heresy, in fact). And the fathers made countless errors in attempting to defend or articulate the Faith.
St. Augustine wrote an entire book of corrections. St. Fulgentius and a host of others, including St. Augustine, held that it was certain that infants who die without baptism descend into the fires of Hell, a position that was later condemned by Pope Pius VI. As Pope Pius VI confirmed, unbaptized infants go to Hell, but to a place in Hell where there is no fire.
But St. Augustine was so outspoken in favor of this error that it became the common and basically unchallenged teaching for more than 500 years, according to The Catholic Encyclopedia.
The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 9, “Limbo,” p. 257: “On the special question, however, of the punishment of original sin after death, St. Anselm was at one with St. Augustine in holding that unbaptized infants share in the positive sufferings of the damned; and Abelard was the first to rebel against the severity of the Augustinian tradition on this point.”
This is why Catholics don’t form definite doctrinal conclusions from the teaching of a father of the Church or a handful of fathers; a Catholic goes by the infallible teaching of the Church proclaimed by the popes; and a Catholic assents to the teaching of the fathers of the Church when they are in universal and constant agreement from the beginning and in line with Catholic dogmatic teaching.
Pope Benedict XIV, Apostolica (# 6), June 26, 1749: “The Church’s judgment is preferable to that of a Doctor renowned for his holiness and teaching.”
Errors of the Jansenists, #30: “When anyone finds a doctrine clearly established in Augustine, he can absolutely hold it and teach it, disregarding any bull of the pope.”- Condemned by Pope Alexander VIII Pope Pius XII, Humani generis (# 21), Aug. 12, 1950: “This deposit of faith our Divine Redeemer has given for authentic interpretation not to each of the faithful, not even to theologians, but only to the Teaching Authority of the Church.’” The Catholic Church recognizes infallibility in no saint, theologian or early Church father. It is only a pope operating with the authority of the Magisterium who is protected by the Holy Ghost from teaching error on faith or morals. So, when we examine and show how Churchmen have erred on the topics of baptism of desire and blood this is 100% consistent with the teaching of the Church, which has always acknowledged that any Churchman, no matter how great, can make errors, even significant ones.
THE THEORY OF BAPTISM OF BLOOD – A TRADITION OF MAN
A small number of the fathers – approximately 8 out of a total of hundreds – are quoted in favor of what is called “baptism of blood,” the idea that a catechumen (that is, one preparing to receive Catholic Baptism) who shed his blood for Christ could be saved without having received Baptism. It is crucial to note at the beginning that none of the fathers considered anyone but a catechumen as a possible exception to receiving the Sacrament of Baptism; they would all condemn and reject as heretical and foreign to the teaching of Christ the modern heresy of “invincible ignorance” saving those who die as non-Catholics. So, out of the fathers, approximately 8 are quoted in favor of baptism of blood for catechumens. And, only 1 father out of hundreds, St. Augustine, can be quoted as clearly teaching what is today called “baptism of desire”: the idea that a catechumen could be saved by his explicit desire for water baptism. This means that with the exception of St. Augustine, all of the few fathers who believed in baptism of blood actually rejected the concept of baptism of desire. Take St. Cyril of Jerusalem, for example.
St. Cyril of Jerusalem, 350 A.D.: “If any man does not receive baptism, he does not receive salvation. The only exception is the martyrs...”
Here we see that St. Cyril of Jerusalem believed in baptism of blood, but rejected baptism of desire. St. Fulgence expressed the same.
St. Fulgence, 523: “From that time at which Our Savior said: “If anyone is not reborn of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven,’ no one can, without the sacrament of baptism, except those who, in the Catholic Church, without Baptism pour out their blood for Christ…”
Here we see that St. Fulgence believed in baptism of blood but rejected the idea of baptism of desire. And what’s ironic and particularly dishonest is that the baptism of desire apologists (such as the priests of the Society of St. Pius X) will quote these patristic texts (such as the two above) in books written to prove baptism of desire, without pointing out to their readers that these passages actually deny baptism of desire; for we can see that St. Fulgence, while expressing belief in baptism of blood, rejects baptism of desire, only allowing martyrs as a possible exception to receiving baptism. (What would St. Fulgence say about the modern version of the heresy of baptism of desire, also taught by such priests of the SSPX, SSPV, CMRI, etc. whereby Jews, Muslims, Hindus and pagans can be saved without Baptism?)
It is also important to point out that some of the fathers use the term “baptism of blood” to describe the Catholic martyrdom of one already baptized, not as a possible replacement for water baptism. This is the only legitimate use of the term.
St. John Chrysostom, Panegyric on St. Lucian, 4th Century AD:
“Do not be surprised that I call martyrdom a Baptism; for here too the Spirit comes in great haste and there is a taking away of sins and a wonderful and marvelous cleansing of the soul; and just as those being baptized are washed in water, so too those being martyred are washed in their own blood.”
St. John is here describing the martyrdom of a priest St. Lucian, a person already baptized. He is not saying that martyrdom replaces baptism. St. John Damascene describes it the same way:
St. John Damascene: “These things were well understood by our holy and inspired fathers --- thus they strove, after Holy Baptism, to keep... spotless and undefiled. Whence some of them also thought fit to receive another Baptism: I mean that which is by blood and martyrdom.”
This is important because many dishonest scholars today (such as the priests of the Society of St. Pius X) will distort the teaching on this point; they will quote a passage on baptism of blood where St. John is simply speaking of baptism of blood as a Catholic martyrdom for one already baptized, and they will present it as if the person were teaching that martyrdom can replace baptism – when such is not stated anywhere.
Some may wonder why the term baptism of blood was used at all. I believe that the reason the term “baptism of blood” was used by some of the fathers was because Our Lord described His coming passion as a baptism in Mark 10:38-39.
Mark 10:38-39: “And Jesus said to them: You know not what you ask. Can you drink the chalice that I drink of: or be baptized with the baptism wherewith I am baptized? But they said to him: We can. And Jesus saith to them: You shall indeed drink of the chalice that I drink of: and with the baptism wherewith I am baptized, you shall be baptized.”
We see in the aforementioned passage that Our Lord, although already baptized by St. John in the Jordan, refers to another baptism which He must receive. This is His martyrdom on the cross, not a substitute for baptism of water. It is His “second baptism,” if you will, not his first. Thus, baptism of blood is described by Our Lord in the same way as St. John Damascene, not to mean a substitute baptism for an unbaptized person, but rather a Catholic martyrdom which remits all the fault and punishment due to sin.
The term baptism is used in a variety of ways in the scriptures and by the Church fathers. The baptisms: of water, of blood, of the spirit, of Moses, and of fire are all terms that have been implemented by Church Fathers to characterize certain things, but not necessarily to describe that an unbaptized martyr can attain salvation. Read the verse of scripture in which the term baptism is used for the Old Testament forefathers:
1Cor. 10:2-4: “And all in Moses were BAPTIZED, in the cloud, and in the sea: And did all eat the same spiritual food, And all drank the same spiritual drink: (and they drank of the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ.)”
I believe this explains why a number of fathers erred in believing that baptism of blood supplies the place of baptism of water. They recognized that Our Lord referred to His own martyrdom as a baptism, and they erroneously concluded that martyrdom for the true faith can serve as a substitute for being born again of water and the Holy Ghost. But the reality is that there are no exceptions to Our Lord’s words in John 3:5, as the infallible teaching of the Catholic Church confirms. Anyone of good will who is willing to shed his blood for the true faith will not be left without these saving waters.It is not our blood, but Christ’s blood on the Cross, communicated to us in the Sacrament of Baptism, which frees us from the state of sin and allows us entrance into the kingdom of Heaven. Pope Eugene IV, “Cantate Domino,” Council of Florence, ex cathedra: “No one, whatever almsgiving he has practiced, even if he has shed blood for the name of Christ, can be saved, unless he has persevered within the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.”
SUMMARIZING THE FACTS ON BAPTISM OF BLOOD
As stated already, the theory of baptism of blood has never been taught by one pope, one council or in any Papal Encyclical. At least 5 dogmatic councils of the Catholic Church issued detailed definitions on Baptism, and not one ever mentioned the concept or the term baptism of blood. The Council of Trent had 14 canons on Baptism, and baptism of blood is mentioned nowhere. And, in fact, various infallible statements from the popes and councils exclude the idea.
Pope Eugene IV, “Cantate Domino,” Council of Florence, ex cathedra: “No one, whatever almsgiving he has practiced, even if he has shed blood for the name of Christ, can be saved, unless he has persevered within the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.” Pope Eugene IV explicitly excludes from salvation even those who “shed blood for the name of Christ” unless they are living within the bosom and unity of the Church! And, as proven already, the unbaptized are not living within the bosom and unity of the Church (de fide)! The unbaptized are not subjects of the Catholic Church (de fide, Council of Trent, Sess. 14, Chap. 2); the unbaptized are not members of the Catholic Church (de fide, Pius XII, Mystici Corporis # 22); and the unbaptized do not have the mark of Christians (de fide, Pius XII, Mediator Dei # 43).
If “baptism of blood” truly served as a substitute for the Sacrament of Baptism, God would never have allowed the Catholic Church to understand John 3:5 as it is written in its infallible decrees, as He has (Pope Eugene IV, The Council of Florence, “Exultate Deo,” Nov. 22, 1439, etc.). This is certain, because the Church’s official understanding of the scriptures cannot err.
Furthermore, God would never have allowed the infallible Council of Trent to completely pass over any mention of this “exception” in its canons on baptism and its chapters on justification as an alternative way of achieving the state of grace. He would never have allowed all of the infallible definitions from popes on only one baptism to avoid any mention of “the baptism of blood.”
And God would not have allowed Pope Eugene IV to define that nobody, even if he has shed blood in the name of Christ, can be saved unless he is in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church, without mentioning the exception of “baptism of blood.” God has never allowed the theory of baptism of blood to be taught in one council, by one pope, or in one infallible decree, but only by fallible theologians and fallible early Church fathers. All of this is because baptism of blood is not a teaching of the Catholic Church, but the erroneous speculation of certain fathers who also erred frequently in the same documents. Besides, there would be no need for God to save anyone by baptism of blood (or “baptism of desire”), since He can keep any sincere souls alive until they are baptized.
THE THEORY OF BAPTISM OF DESIRE – A TRADITION OF MAN Those who have been brainwashed by apologists for the theory of baptism of desire may be surprised to learn that of all the fathers of the Church, only 1 can even be brought forward by baptism of desire advocates as having taught the concept. That’s correct, only one, St. Augustine. The baptism of desire advocates will make a feeble attempt to bring forward a second father, St. Ambrose, as we will see; but even if that were true, that would make only two fathers out of hundreds who can be quoted as ever having speculated on the concept of baptism of desire. So then, what is one to say about the following statements of the priests of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), who have written three separate books on “baptism of desire”?
Fr. Jean-Marc Rulleau (SSPX), Baptism of Desire, p. 63: “This baptism of desire makes up for the want of sacramental baptism… The existence of this mode of salvation is a truth taught by the Magisterium of the Church and held from the first centuries by all the Fathers. No Catholic theologian has contested it.”
Fr. Francois Laisney (SSPX), Is Feeneyism Catholic?, p. 79, on Baptism of desire: “It is not only the common teaching, but unanimous teaching; it is not only since the early part of this millennium, but rather from the beginning of the Church…”
These statements are totally false and grievous lies which completely misrepresent the teaching of Tradition and corrupt people’s faith, as we already have seen. The fathers are unanimously against the concept that anyone (including a catechumen) could be saved without water baptism. But let us examine the teaching of the one father, St. Augustine, who did express belief (at least at times) in the idea that a catechumen could be saved without the Sacrament of Baptism by his desire for it.
ST. AUGUSTINE (354-430) St. Augustine is quoted in favor of the concept of baptism of desire, but he admittedly struggled with the issue, sometimes clearly opposing the idea that unbaptized catechumens could achieve salvation, and other times supporting it.
St. Augustine, 400: “That the place of Baptism is sometimes supplied by suffering is supported by a substantial argument which the same Blessed Cyprian draws…Considering this over and over again, I find that not only suffering for the name of Christ can supply for that which is lacking by way of Baptism, but even faith and conversion of heart, if… recourse cannot be had to the celebration of the Mystery of Baptism.”
There are two interesting points about this passage. The first relates to baptism of blood: notice that Augustine says that his belief in baptism of blood is supported by an inference or an argument that St. Cyprian made, not anything rooted in the Tradition of the Apostles or the Roman Pontiffs.
St. Cyprian, To Jubaianus (254): “… in regard to what I might think in the matter of the baptism of heretics… This baptism we cannot reckon as valid…”
As we saw already, many of the inferences of St. Cyprian showed themselves to be quite wrong, to put it nicely, such as his “inference” that it was from “apostolic Tradition” that heretics cannot confer baptism, which is wrong, since even heretics can baptize validly. Thus, St. Augustine is revealing by this statement a very important point: that his belief even in baptism of blood is rooted in fallible human speculation, not in divine revelation or infallible Tradition. He is admitting that he could be wrong and, in fact, he is wrong.
Secondly, when Augustine concludes that he also believes that faith (that is, faith in Catholicism) and a desire for baptism could have the same effect as martyrdom, he says: “Considering this over and over again…” By saying that he considered this over and over again, St. Augustine is admitting that his opinion on baptism of desire is also something that he has come to from his own consideration, not through infallible Tradition or teaching. It is something that he admittedly struggled with and contradicted himself on. All of this serves to prove again that baptism of desire, like baptism of blood, is a tradition of man, born in erroneous and fallible human speculation (albeit from some great men), and not rooted in or derived from any Tradition of the Apostles or of the popes.
Out of the hundreds of fathers of the Church, the only other one that the baptism of desire advocates even try to quote is St. Ambrose. They think that in his funeral speech for his friend (the Emperor Valentinian) he taught that the emperor (who was only a catechumen) was saved by his desire for baptism. But St. Ambrose’s funeral speech for Valentinian is extremely ambiguous and could be interpreted in a variety of ways. It is thus gratuitous for them to assert that it clearly teaches the idea of “baptism of desire.”
LITURGICAL TRADITION AND APOSTOLIC BURIAL TRADITION Besides these clear testimonies of the fathers against the theory of baptism of desire, perhaps most striking is the fact that in the history of the Catholic Church there is not a single tradition that can be cited for praying for – or giving ecclesiastical burial to – catechumens who died without baptism. The Catholic Encyclopedia (1907) had the following to say about the actual Tradition of the Church in this regard:
“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… The practice of the Church is more correctly shown in the canon (xvii) of the Second Council of Braga (572 AD): ‘Neither the commemoration of Sacrifice [oblationis] nor the service of chanting [psallendi] is to be employed for catechumens who have died without baptism.’”
There you have the teaching of Catholic Tradition! No catechumen who died without the Sacrament of Baptism received prayer, sacrifice or Christian burial! The Council of Braga, in 572 A.D., forbade prayer for catechumens who died without Baptism. Pope St. Leo the Great and Pope St. Gelasius had earlier confirmed the same Church discipline – which was the universal practice – forbidding Catholics to pray for unbaptized catechumens who had died. This means that the belief in the early Church was that there was no such thing as baptism of desire. The theory of baptism of desire didn’t become a widespread belief until the middle ages, when St. Thomas Aquinas and some other eminent theologians made it their own, which caused many theologians to subsequently adopt that position out of deference to them, a position on the possible salvation of catechumens who died without baptism which was contrary to the overwhelming belief and liturgical tradition of the early Church, not to mention the Church’s later infallible teaching on the scripture John 3:5.
The true teaching of apostolic and Catholic tradition on this topic is also seen from the teaching of the Catholic Liturgy, which all worshipping Catholics in the early Church acknowledged and believed: namely, that no unbaptized catechumen or unbaptized person was considered part of the faithful. That unbaptized catechumens are not part of the faithful was held by all of the fathers because it was taught to all Catholics in the liturgy.
Dr. Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Membership in the Church, p. 309: “3. The Fathers draw a sharp line of separation between Catechumens and ‘the faithful.’”
This means that no unbaptized person can be saved, because Catholic dogma has defined that no one is saved outside the one Church of the faithful.
Pope Gregory XVI, Summo Iugiter Studio, May 27, 1832, on no salvation outside the Church: “Official acts of the Church proclaim the same dogma. Thus, in the decree on faith which Innocent III published with the synod of Lateran IV, these things are written: ‘There is one universal Church of all the faithful outside of which no one is saved.’”
POPE ST. SIRICIUS (384-398) In his letter to the Bishop of Tarragona in the year 385, Pope St. Siricius also shows how the belief in the early Church rejected any concept of baptism of desire.
Pope St. Siricius, 385, [Concerning the necessity of baptism] “Therefore just as we declare that respect for the Easter sacrifice [Paschal time] should not be lessened in the case of any person, in like manner we wish help to be brought with all speed to children who because of their age cannot yet speak, and to those who in any emergency are in need of the water of holy baptism, lest it should lead to the destruction of our souls if, by refusing the water of salvation to those who desire it, each of them, when taking leave of this world, should lose both the kingdom and life. Indeed whoever suffers the peril of shipwreck, an enemy attack, the danger of siege or desperation resulting from some bodily infirmity, and so asks for what in their faith is their only help, let them receive at the moment of their request the reward of regeneration that they beg for. This much should suffice for my digression on this subject; now let all priests who do not wish to be wrenched from the firmly-fixed rock of the apostles, on which Christ built his universal church, hold fast to the aforesaid rule.” (Latin found in Denzinger-Schonmetzer, Latin Edition, 1962, no. 184; an English Translation found in The Christian Faith, Sixth Revised and Enlarged Edition, Staten Island, NY: Alba House, 1996, p. 540.)
I hope that the baptism of desire advocates read this one very carefully. The Pope declares that the man who begs for regeneration and desires water baptism is still denied heaven if he dies without it! This quotation from Pope St. Siricius is striking in that it again clearly shows how the early Church rejected belief in the concept of baptism of desire. The Pope begins by affirming that the observance of Paschal time should not be relaxed. (He is referring to the fact that Baptisms were historically performed during Paschal time.) After affirming that this tradition should be maintained, the Pope warns that infants and those in any necessity or danger should be baptized immediately, lest those who desire baptism die and are “deprived of the Kingdom and life” for not having received water baptism which they desired. This is a clear rejection of the idea of baptism of desire.
This point is made again by the Pope in the second half of the quotation, where he says that when those unbaptized persons “ask for what in their faith is their only help, let them receive at the very moment of their request the reward of regeneration they beg for.” This means that receiving water Baptism is the only help to salvation for such persons who earnestly desire to receive Baptism. There is no help to salvation for such persons in their desire or martyrdom, but only in receiving the Sacrament of Baptism.
Pope Paul III, The Council of Trent, Can. 2 on the Sacrament of Baptism, Sess. 7, 1547, ex cathedra: “If anyone shall say that real and natural water is not necessary for baptism, and on that account those words of Our Lord Jesus Christ: ‘Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit’ [John 3:5], are distorted into some sort of metaphor: let him be anathema.”
As you can see, you are anathematized if you assert that baptism of desire is a Catholic doctrine!