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Apropos
From the July AD 2001
Our Lady of the Rosary
Parish Bulletin
Selections from the Scripture, the Fathers,
Doctors, Popes, and other great spiritual writers appropriate to the Church in our time.

Revision Date:
12 July AD 2002, 
St. John Gualbert, Abbot
Ss. Nabor and Felix, Martyrs

There is No Contradiction Between
"There is no Salvation Outside the Catholic Church"
&
Baptism of Desire

 

The Church teaches two things:

  • There is no salvation apart from the Catholic Church.

  • Baptism is necessary for salvation, but those penitent souls who desire and intend prompt Baptism, yet are prevented by death, receive the effects of Baptism.

    These two teachings cannot be mutually contradictory -- particularly when they are both explicitly taught by the same individual Pope, theologian, doctor, or father.

    For the purposes of this discussion let us stipulate that all of the pronouncements that say something to the effect that "there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church" (in the left-hand column below) are infallible and irrevocable (they probably are not, but let us just say they are for now).

    Given this stipulation, we are bound to conclude that any pronouncement by anyone that contradicts the "no salvation outside the Catholic Church" pronouncement is materially heretical. Even if my stipulation is partially incorrect, all contradictory pronouncements after the first infallible "no salvation outside the Catholic Church" pronouncement must be heretical. (All contradictory pronouncements made before were simply wrong.)

    The inescapable conclusion is that either these two teachings are somehow not contradictory -- or -- that a large number of Catholic Popes, theologians, doctors, and fathers were schizophrenics, liars, feeble minded persons, and/or heretics. If we assume that they did not suffer from such problems there are two possible explanations for their pronouncements:

    Either they understood that the case of people dying with the desire of Baptism but unable to receive it was atypical, and not logically included within the law of "no salvation outside...." (that such souls were like the Fire Engines that don't get ticked for going through red lights).

    -- or --

    They believed that people in this atypical situation were adequately associated as members of the Church by virtue of their belief and desire to be members of the Church.

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Saint Cyprian (died A.D. 258) didn't see any contradiction between:

"He who has turned his back on the Church of Christ shall not come to the rewards of Christ; he is an alien, a worldling, an enemy. You cannot have God for your Father if you have not the Church for your mother. Our Lord warns us when He says: `he that is not with Me is against Me, and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth.' Whosoever breaks the peace and harmony of Christ acts against Christ; whoever gathers elsewhere than in the Church scatters the Church of Christ." (Unity of the Catholic Church) "The catechumens who were caught and killed confessing the Name [of Christ] before they were baptized in the Church... holding the integral Faith and truth of the Church... were not deprived of the sacrament of Baptism, being baptized by the most glorious and excellent Baptism, by which the Lord Himself said he had to be baptized [Lk. 12:50]. That those who are baptized in their own blood and sanctified by their passion were glorified and received the Divine promise, is taught to us by the Lord Himself in the Gospel, when He promised to the thief who believed and confessed [the Faith] that he would be with Him in paradise" (Epistle, lxxii: 22).

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Saint Cyril of Jerusalem (died A.D. 386) didn't see any contradiction between:

"Abhor all heretics...heed not their fair speaking or their mock humility; for they are serpents, a `brood of vipers.' Remember that, when Judas said `Hail Rabbi,' the salutation was an act of betrayal. Do not be deceived by the kiss but beware of the venom. Abhor such men, therefore, and shun the blasphemers of the Holy Spirit, for whom there is no pardon. For what fellowship have you with men without hope. Let us confidently say to God regarding all heretics, `Did I not hate, O Lord, those who hated Thee, and did I not pine away because of Your enemies?' For there is an enmity that is laudable, as it is written, `I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed.' Friendship with the serpent produces enmity with God, and death. Let us shun those from whom God turns away." (The Fathers of the Church) "If anyone does not receive Baptism, he shall not be saved, except the martyrs, who even without the water shall receive the kingdom."

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St. Ambrose didn't see any contradiction between:

"Where Peter is therefore, there is the Church. Where the Church is there is not death but life eternal. ...Although many call themselves Christians, they usurp the name and do not have the reward." (The Fathers of the Church) "I hear that you grieve since he did not receive the sacrament of Baptism... But even for a long time he had this desire that ... he should be baptized.... Surely because he asked, he received, and hence there is the Scripture: 'The just man by whatsoever death he may be overtaken, his soul shall be at rest'.... If [martyrs] are washed in their own blood, his devotedness and intention washed him" (De obitu Valentiniani consolatio).

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St. Augustine didn't see any contradiction between:

`If any man be outside the Church he will be excluded from the number of sons, and will not have God for Father since he has not the Church for mother.'" (Encyclical, Ubi Primum) "Not only suffering for the sake of Christ can replace what is Baptism, but also faith and conversion of heart if perhaps the shortness of time does not permit the celebration of the mystery of Baptism" (on Baptism, IV, 22, 29).

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Saint Fulgentius (died A.D. 533) didn't see any contradiction between:

"Most firmly hold and never doubt that not only pagans, but also all Jews, all heretics, and all schismatics who finish this life outside of the Catholic Church, will go into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." (Enchiridion Patristicum) "No one can, without the sacrament of Baptism, except those who, in the Catholic Church, without baptism, pour out their blood for Christ, receive the kingdom of heaven and life eternal." (The Rule of Faith 43).

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Pope Innocent II didn't see any contradiction between:

 


This space open for an Innocent II quote.

 

"To your inquiry we respond thus:  We assert without hesitation that the priest whom you indicated in your letter had died without the water of Baptism, because he persevered in the faith of holy mother the Church and in the confession of the name of Christ, was freed from original sin and attained the joy of  the heavenly fatherland. Read, brother, in the eighth book of Augustine's City of God,1where among other things it is written, 'Baptism is ministered invisibly to one whom not contempt of religion but death excludes.'  Read again also the book of the Blessed Ambrose concerning the death of Valentinian2 where he says the same thing. Therefore, to questions concernig the dead, you should hold the opinions of the learned Fathers, and in your church you should join in prayers and you should have sacrifices offered to God for the priest mentioned."
1. Augustine, De civ. Dei 13, 7 [ML 41, 381];  De baptismo IV 22,29 {ML 43, 173]. 
2. Cap. 51 [ML 16, 1374].
(Pope Innocent II in response to a query from the Bishop of Cremona about the eternal fate of a priest, who, after death, was found to be ordained although never sacramentally Baptized.  The validity or invalidity of his Orders is not discussed.  Denzinger 388/741)

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Pope Innocent III didn't see any contradiction between:

"There is but one universal Church of the faithful, outside which no one at all is saved." (Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, 1215.) "A certain Jew at the moment of death... immersed himself in water saying 'I baptize me in the name of the Father...' now, there must be a difference between the baptizer and the baptized... yet if this one died he would have gone to the heavenly kingdom ... because of his faith in the sacrament." Denzinger 413/788

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Saint Thomas Aquinas didn't see any contradiction between:

"There is no entering into salvation outside the Church, just as in the time of the deluge there was none outside the ark, which denotes the Church." (Summa Theologiae) "A man may, without Baptism of Water, receive the sacramental effect from Christ's passion insofar as he is conformed to Christ by suffering for him.... 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" (Summa Theol., III,Q.66,a.11).

+

The Council of Trent didn't see any contradiction between:

"That our Catholic faith, without which it is impossible to please God....(Session V, Decree on Original Sin, quoting Hebrews xi: 6.)

"For in virtue of this rule of faith handed down from the apostles, even infants who could not as yet commit any sin of themselves, are for this reason truly baptized for the remission of sins, in order that in them what they contracted by generation be washed away by regeneration.  For unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven." (Session V, Chapter 5; quoting John iii: 5)

" In What the Justification of the Sinner Consists, and What are its Causes .... This disposition or preparation is followed by justification itself, which is not only a remission of sins but also the sanctification and renewal of the inward man through the voluntary reception of the grace and gifts whereby an unjust man becomes just and from being an enemy becomes a friend, that he may be an heir according to hope of life everlasting. 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.... the instrumental cause is the Sacrament of Baptism, which is the Sacrament of faith, without which no man was ever justified (Session VI, Chapter VII, emphasis added) .

"A brief description of the justification of a sinner as being a translation from that state in which man is born a child of the first Adam, to the state of graceand of the adoption of the sons of God through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, our Savior.  This translation however cannot, since the promulgation of the Gospel, be effected except through the laver of regeneration or its desire, as it is written:  Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (Session VI, Chapter IV, emphasis added)

"Canon 4.  If anone says that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary for salvation but are surperfluous, and that without them or without the desire of them men obtain from God through faith alone the grace of justification . . . let him be anathema." (Session VI, Canons on the Sacraments in General., emphasis added.)

+

The Catechism of Trent didn't see any contradiction between:

"Following no chief but Christ, I am united in communion with your holiness, that is with the chair of Peter.  I know that on that rock is built the Church.  Whoever will eat the Lamb outside this house is profane; whoever is not in the ark of Noah shall perish in the flood."  (Catechism of Trent, quoting Saint Jerome in its article on the the statement in the Creed, "I believe in the Holy Catholic Church,"  Pars I, Caput VI, No. 12;  Page 103 in the Mc Hugh and Callan translation.) "... yet, even though things are so, it is nevertheless not customary for the Church to confer the Sacrament of Baptism on men immediately, but rather at fixed times appointed for this.  For the delay is not a danger as is said it would be over a child, for those with the use of reason, the resolution and plan of receiving Baptism and the full repentance for the bad acts of life endows them with grace and justice if suddenly some misfortune impedes so that they are not able to be washed with the saving water.  On the contrary, this delay appears to bring forth some usefulness .... (Catechism of Trent, Pars II, Caput II, No. 36;  Translation mine.  Cf. Page 179 in McHugh and Callan translation.)

+

St. Robert Bellarmine didn't see any contradiction between:

"Our heretics, deny that baptism is necessary, not only for the remission of sin, but also for the attainment of Heaven. However, those who imagine that there is another remedy besides baptism openly contradict the Gospel, the Council, the Fathers, and consensus of the Universal Church."  ( in Br. Richard Ibranyi, OSB, Outside the Church there is no salvation: Only Baptized Roman Catholics can hope to attain Eternal Life!" (Most Holy Family Monastery} p.175 ) "Outside the Church no one is saved, should be understood of those who belong to the Church neither in reality nor in desire, just as theologians commonly speak about baptism. Because catechumens, even though not in church in re (in reality), are in the church in voto (by desire) , and in that way they can be saved.” (De Ecclesia militante) , chap 3., ed. Giuliano, vol. 2, p. 76.

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Pope Paul V didn't see any contradiction between:

 


This space open for an Paul V quote.

 

"That holy baptism, the gateway to the Christian religion and to eternal life, holding as it does the first place among the sacraments instituted by Christ for the New Covenant, is necessary for salvation for all, either in act or desire, is testified by the divine Truth Himself in these words: "Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (Jn 3.5). Therefore, the greatest concern is to be exercised for its correct and timely administration and reception" (Roman Ritual, Part II, Chapter I, para #1, emphasis added.)..

+

St. Alphonsus di Liguori didn't see any contradiction between:

`

 

This space open for a St. Alphonsus quote

"96. Below, we shall speak of baptism of water, which very likely according to St. Thomas, [Alphonso] Salmeron, [Franciscus Maria] Magius, [Dominic or Peter] Soto, [Antonius] Velasquez, etc. was instituted before the passion of Christ the Lord, at the time when Christ was baptized by John. However, Baptism of desire is a perfect conversion to God through contrition, or the love of God above all things, with an explicit or implicit wish of true Baptism of water, the change [i.e. of the soul] of which it supplies (according to Trent, sess. 14, c. 4) as far as the remission of guilt, but not as far as the impression of the character [of Baptism], neither as far as removing all pain of punishment: it is called [baptism] of desire [flaminis, lit. of blowing {as of the wind} -- this is how St. Alphonsus refers to Baptism of desire throughout], because it is by the impulse of the Holy Ghost, which is called a blowing [flamen]. So teach [Dominicus] Viva, Salmeron with Suarez, Vasquez, Croix, and others. IT IS DE FIDE that men are saved even by baptism of desire, taught in c. Apostolicam and Trent, where it is said that no one can be saved without the washing of regeneration, or the desire thereof. See Petro., p. 142, q. 6.
(Book 6, Tract 2, Chapter 1, n. 95-97, St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, Theologia Moralis. Vol. 5. P.J. Haicq (Summi Pontificis S. Congregationis de Propaganda Fide et Archiepiscopi Melchliniae): Melchlinia, 1845, pp. 309-310.  Trans. Travis N. Yeager, 1999.)

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Blessed Pope Pius IX didn't see any contradiction between:

"It must be held as a matter of faith that outside the Apostolic Roman Church, no one can be saved; that this is the only ark of salvation; that he who shall not have entered therein will perish in the flood." (Denzinger 1647)

 

Note that Blessed Pope Pius incorporates both teachings in the single statement in the right hand column --->

"Since it must be held by faith that nobody can be saved outside of the Roman Apostolic Church, this is the one, only, ark of salvation; anyone has not entered in it will perish in the deluge.  But in the same time it must also be held for certain that those who ignore the true religion, when their ignorance is invincible, are not subject to guilt in the eyes of the Lord.  Now, who will presume to determine the limits of that ignorance, taking into account the variety of the peoples, the regions, the various talents, and of many other things? When, freed from the bonds of the body, we will see God as He is, and we will see the close and beautiful tie that connects the divine mercy and the divine justice.  But as long as we remain with the burdens of earth and the mortal mass that weights down the spirit, we firmly hold and agree with the Catholic doctrine, that there exists a single God, one single faith, a single baptism. Further investigating will only puff one up."  [Dz. 1647

"In any event, as demands charity, let us continuously pray for the conversion of all people, of every land, who are not converted to Christ.  Let us strive according to our power for the common salvation of all men, for the hand of the Lord is not shortened.   The gifts of heavenly grace will not be withheld to those who, with sincere mind, ask to come to this light. This truth must itself be deeply imprinted in the minds of the faithful, so that they cannot come to the false doctrines that aim to foment that religious indifference, which we see spreading farther and more strongly and fortifying itself to damage of souls.  [Dz. 1648

"Those afflicted with invincible ignorance of our holy religion, if they carefully keep the precepts of the natural law that have been written by God in the hearts of all men, if they are prepared to obey God, and lead a virtuous and dutiful life can attain eternal life by the power of divine light and grace.  For God who reads comprehensively in every detail the minds and souls, the thoughts and habits of men, will not permit, in accordance with His infinite goodness and mercy, anone who is not guilty of voulntary fault to suffer eternal punishment.   However also well known is the dogma that no one can be saved outside the Catholic Church, that those who obstinately oppose the authority and definitions of that Church, and who stubbornly remain separated from the Church and from the successor of Peter, the Roman Pontiff  (to who the Savior has entrusted His vineyard), cannot obtain salvation" (Denzinger 1677/2866).

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Pope Saint Pius X didn't see any contradiction between:

"It is our duty to recall to everyone great and small, as the Holy Pontiff Gregory did in ages past, the absolute necessity which is ours, to have recourse to this Church to effect our eternal salvation." (Encyclical, Jucunda Sane) "Baptism is absolutely necessary to salvation.... 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, along with the desire, at least implicit, of Baptism, and this is called Baptism of Desire" (Catechism of Pope St. Pius X, Baptism Q.16, 17).

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Pope Benedict XV didn't see any contradiction between:

 


This space open for an Benedict XV quote.

  

"Baptism, the gateway and foundation of the Sacraments, actually or at least in desire is necessary for all for salvation and is not validly conferred except by washing with true and natural water along with the prescribed formula of words" (1917 Code of Canon Law, canon 737 §1, emphasis added.).

 



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