Baptism of Desire 1-3 (Questions 49, 50, and 51, June 2006)

Father Leonard Feeney, SJ

Question 49- Baptism of Desire


I read your Gerry Matatics and Sedevacantism and it was excellent, except one thing....

You quote the following to attempt to prove baptism of desire:

We can also add the interpretation under the reign of Pius X, the very pope that the sedevacantists consider one of the last legitimate popes. His Catechism states:

17 Q: Can the absence of Baptism be supplied in any other way?

A: The absence of Baptism can be supplied by martyrdom, which is called Baptism of Blood, or by an act of perfect love of God, or of contrition, long with the desire, at least implicit, of Baptism, and this is called Baptism of Desire.

Treating this like doctrine is absurd. Is this the only authority on the subject you have? It is weak proof at best. Pope Boniface blew pseudo baptisms theory out of the water in the 1400's:

The Church Teaches Ex Cathedra: "The Most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews, and heretics, and schismatics, can ever be partakers of eternal life, but that they are to go into the eternal fire "which was prepared for the devil, and his angels," (Mt. 25:41) unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this Ecclesiastical Body, that only those remaining within this unity can profit from the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and that they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, alms deeds, and other works of Christian piety and duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved unless they abide within the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church." (Pope Eugene IV, the Bull Cantate Domino, 1441)

NO ONE, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved unless they abide within the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.

Ah! So, there's no such thing as baptism of blood.

As for baptism of desire, Trent canons cannot be ignored. These canons categorically deny that some kind of 'baptism of desire' or baptism without water is legitimate, let alone salvific.

Canons on Baptism

Canon 5. If anyone says that baptism is optional, that is, not necessary for salvation,[13] let him be anathema

Canon 2. If anyone says that true and natural water is not necessary for baptism[9] and thus twists into some metaphor the words of our Lord Jesus Christ: Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost,[10] let him be anathema.

Trent also says:

The causes of this justification are: the final cause is the glory of God and of Christ and life everlasting; the efficient cause is the merciful God who washes and sanctifies[31] gratuitously, signing and anointing with the holy Spirit of promise, who is the pledge of our inheritance,[32] the meritorious cause is His most beloved only begotten, our Lord Jesus Christ, who, when we were enemies,[33] for the exceeding charity wherewith he loved us,[34] merited for us justification by His most holy passion on the wood of the cross and made satisfaction for us to God the Father, the instrumental cause is the sacrament of baptism, which is the sacrament of faith,[35] without which no man was ever justified...

So, the instrumental cause of justification is the SACRAMENT of baptism without which no man was ever justified. No one was ever justified without the SACRAMENT of baptism!

Baptism of desire is not a sacrament.

The statements I've supplied are infallible. They clearly demonstrate the teaching of the church. Catechism writings, sometimes subject to error are, if contrary, without merit or authority. While there are sentiments for BOD even amongst saints, they remain sentiments, false hope. Baptism of desire is not Catholic doctrine.

Why does the Church emphasize, ONE Lord, ONE Faith, ONE Baptism?

We know about other lords, we know about other faiths, but what about other baptisms? What other baptisms? This awesome statement warns Catholics in advance about the heresy of two other false baptisms that are powerless to save and have, in recent times, devastated the evangelical mission of the Church.


R. Sungenis: Elaine, no, Pius X is not the only source. We have an infallible source before him, and if you read my essay in any depth you should have seen it. The Council of Trent, Session 22, says, infallibly, that the laver of water, or its desire, procures justification.

Question 50- Baptism of Desire 2

Reconciling the Trent statements can be tricky. Either we have to believe that Trent is lying when it says "no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved unless they abide within the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church." or when it says that sacrament of baptism is necessary, or we need to read the statement properly that you cite. In other words, BOTH desire and laver procure justification. It makes much more sense to understand the use of the language (latin or English) and the way a negative statement is able to use the word "or". Any linguist will tell you that "or" can be inclusive when a statement is stated in the negative. Now how easy is that?


R. Sungenis: Elaine, that argument won't work, because Trent isn't using "or" in the negative or in the inclusive. We know this by the way Trent refers to "desire" in other places, namely how it says that the "desire" for confession suffices to forgive one's sins both in Chapter 14:

but also the sacramental confession of the same, at least in desire and to be made in its season, and sacerdotal absolution, as well as satisfaction by fasting, almsgiving, prayers, and other devout exercises of the spiritual life, not indeed for the eternal punishment, which is remitted together with the guilt either by the sacrament or the desire of the sacrament, but for the temporal punishment [Canon 30],

and Canon 4:

If anyone shall say that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary for salvation, but are superfluous, and that, although all are not necessary for every individual, without them or without the desire of them through faith alone men obtain from God the grace of justification: let him be anathema

Question 51- Baptism of Desire 3

"Elaine, that argument won't work, because Trent isn't using "or" in the negative or in the inclusive."

Well, in fact, that statement IS stated negatively. It says you can't have justification without...rather than saying how you can have justification with. By definition, that is what is meant when something is stated in the negative sense. The word "or" is often inclusive in such usage. For example:

You cannot receive Holy Communion without fasting or repentance.

There. You need both things; you need to fast AND you need to repent in order to receive Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Not rocket science. Both uses for "or" are very, very common. Latin or English. Over and over and over again and everywhere.

You cannot have good Toll House cookies without chocolate chips or sugar...or flour or salt or vanilla or someone to bake them.

"Or" is used to delineate and refine, but also to include. You can see it happen within this negatively stated truth about ordinary chocolate chip cookies. You need several things for Toll House cookies. Comparing the Trent statement about desire side by side with the cookie statement, you are suggesting that chocolate chips ALONE make good Toll House cookies. Doesn't make sense does it? It's so simple, it's scary. No wonder this whole false notion got as far as it did. Clever, that devil.

As for 'desire' sufficing for confession, you are correct, with conditions. Perfect contrition only applies to those who've been validly baptized and the necessity for confessing to a priest still remains because there is no remission of sin outside the church.

Baptism is different because it is the door to the other sacraments and because it's conditions have been set already. Water is a fundamental part of the sacrament. Baptism of desire reduces baptism to a metaphor. It makes a mockery of statements like: One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism. It denies the necessity of water and the Holy Spirit for salvation. It flies in the face of infallible canons, doctrinal statements, teachings of the saints, councils, and on and on. And it guts the words of scripture.

Just read the Trent statement correctly. Suddenly, a multitude of infallible statements ring true, the missionary mandate to "go and baptize all nations..." excites a more intense sense of urgency and Jesus has a little more clout when He says, "Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, let him be anathema."


R. Sungenis: Sorry, Elaine, assumptions don't stand for doctrine. You would have to prove that Trent is using "or" in the sense you demand, but there is no such evidence. Unfortunately, you didn't deal with the examples of how Trent uses "desire" in the other two places of Session 22, therefore you have no basis for your argument. Those two examples show you that Trent doesn't use "desire" in the inclusive sense, but in the exclusive, as do all the Fathers and doctors who have written on this subject. The only one who seems to have disagreed is Fr. Feeney. Unfortunately, his exegesis is faulty not only here, but also in his attempt to make a distinction between Justification and Salvation so that he could say that the "desire" of baptism doesn't provide Salvation, only Justification, which is absurd. No Father, doctor, saint, council or pope ever made such a distinction. Of course, the real problem behind all of this is the Feeneyites attempt to determine who is saved and not saved, but that is a realm held exclusively in God's stead. 

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