THE APOSTOLIC SEE
Roman, Catholic, and Apostolic Church
POPE BONIFACE X
Sancta Sedes, Papa Bonifatius X
firstname.lastname@example.org (electronic mail)
Baptism of Desire is Condemned and is Heresy
Private Epistle #2
Regarding the doctrines of "baptism of desire" and "baptism of blood":
As far as is known, all false papal claimants today accept these heretical doctrines These false baptisms are heretical. This publication examines the nature of baptism according to the dogmatic declarations of the Catholic Church.
The traditional notions of "baptism of desire" and "baptism of blood" teach that baptism for the remission of all past sins, and for entrance into the Church, is possibly administered without invoking the Trinitarian formula or pouring real and natural water on the recipient of the baptism. Instead, these baptisms are conferred simply by hoping for it (baptism of desire), or by being martyred for Christ while outside of the Church (baptism of blood). According to many modernist heretics, baptism of desire could even be conferred without a person realizing that he is hoping for baptism, or realizing that Roman Catholicism is the true religion.
Medieval doctors and Church fathers did sometimes hold to a limited notion baptism of desire, and taught that only Catholic catechumens (unbaptized men who were being instructed in the faith in preparation for conversion) could benefit from this baptism of desire. These catechumens were considered to be explicitly embracing or seeking the Catholic Faith, and preparing for actual water baptism. These theologians taught that the mere desire for the sacrament of water baptism was sometimes enough to save a catechumen if he died prior to being able to receive the sacrament.
Others rejected baptism of desire, and held that any catechumens worthy of salvation would not die prior to the sacrament of water baptism, but that God would providentially ensure that all worthy catechumens receive water baptism before their death. Augustine is a primary example of the early confusion on this issue. In his earlier writings, he teaches baptism of desire. Then, in his retractions, he renounced this view, and stated that water baptism is necessary for every new convert to receive remission of sins and salvation.
Eventually, liberals took the "baptism of desire" concept, and began to teach that even infidels and heretics could be saved via an unconscious desire and a general vague yearning for meaning and truth. They even held that infidels could be saved by this supposed desire or yearning for truth, without even realizing they wanted baptism or Christianity. This error spread in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries prior to the Great Apostasy and the election of the apostate Antipope John XXIII in 1958. Even prior to the John XXIII Antipapacy in 1958, the liberal teaching of salvation for infidels and others outside the Catholic Church was spreading far and wide and infecting clerics everywhere.
Both the traditional and modern understanding of "baptism of desire" and "baptism of blood" recede from the dogmatic language of the authoritative Councils of Florence and Trent. The Council of Florence taught in 1442 A.D.:
Holy baptism holds the first place among all the sacraments, for it is the gate of the spiritual life; through it we become members of Christ and of the body of the Church. Since death came into the world through one person, unless we are born again of water and the spirit, we cannot, as Truth says, enter the kingdom of heaven. The matter of this sacrament is true and natural water, either hot or cold. The form is: I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. But we do not deny that true baptism is conferred by the following words: May this servant of Christ be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit; or, This person is baptized by my hands in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Since the Holy Trinity is the principle cause from which baptism has its power and the minister is the instrumental cause who exteriorly bestows the sacrament, the sacrament is conferred if the action is performed by the minister with the invocation of the holy Trinity. The minister of this sacrament is a priest, who is empowered to baptize in virtue of his office. But in case of necessity not only a priest or a deacon, but even a lay man or a woman, even a pagan and a heretic, can baptize provided he or she uses the form of the church and intends to do what the church does. The effect of this sacrament is the remission of all original and actual guilt, also of all penalty that is owed for that guilt. Hence no satisfaction for past sins is to be imposed on the baptized, but those who die before they incur any guilt go straight to the kingdom of heaven and the vision of God. (Council of Florence, Pope Eugene IV, 1442 A.D., ex cathedra, Bull of Union with the Armenians)
This excerpt from the authoritative Council of Florence defines the nature of baptism in very specific terms that refute the idea that baptism is conferred merely by hoping for it or receiving martyrdom outside the Church.
"Baptism of desire" was also anathematized at the Council of Trent by implication, when it declared that baptism is necessary for salvation and that true and natural water is necessary for baptism:
The First Vatican Council condemned making exceptions to dogmas like the one from Florence, and receding from them in any way. Wherefore it declared:
Hence, too, that meaning of the sacred dogmas is ever to be maintained which has once been declared by holy mother church, and there must never be a recession from this meaning under the name of a kind of deeper understanding. (Vatican I, Session 3, Chapter 4, Section 16, 24 April 1870).
Gregory XVI also declared in his encyclical Mirari Vos “Indeed you will accomplish this perfectly if, as the duty of your office demands, you attend to yourselves and to doctrine and meditate on these words: ‘the universal Church is affected by any and every novelty" and the admonition of Pope Agatho: "nothing of the things appointed ought to be diminished; nothing changed; nothing added; but they must be preserved both as regards expression and meaning.’" (referencing a fallible letter of Agatho).
Prior to the teaching of Gregory XVI, doctors of the Church and Catholic saints that taught the common limited and explicit baptism of desire for catechumens were not heretics, since the dogma forbidding recession from dogmas was not yet defined. All knew that dogmas generally and normatively held what the Church taught since the time of the apostles, but it was never definitively declared until Gregory XVI and Vatican I that dogmas actually had no exceptions whatever and were absolute (not merely general or normative). The earliest doctors and saints understood the canons of Trent and Florence to be the general rule, but believed there could be occasional exceptions to the canons. It was not until the nineteenth century (through the dogmas against recession already cited) that the view that there could be occasional exceptions to dogmas was anathematized.
Even though the dogma forbidding any receding from dogmas was not defined until the nineteenth century, the Catholic doctors' and fathers' original common view regarding baptism of desire was still much more limited than what the modern heretical scholars who claimed to be Catholic espoused about baptism of desire in the nineteenth century.
Understand how serious a matter this is then, that baptism with real and natural water with the invocation of the Trinity as the form is the gateway to the Church. Just as the death-