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Sancta Sedes, Papa Bonifatius X (electronic mail)

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[The following epistle was written in response to a letter received from Antipope Michael.]

Antipope Michael,

There are a number of fallacies in what you have written. 

Your first, primary fallacy, is taking vague dogmas and making them override clear dogmas. 

Your second fallacy is taking fallible non-magisterial statements and stories, and making them override infallible dogmas.

Let’s examine two clear dogmatic definitions that teach you need water baptism and that you need to hold the Catholic Faith in order to be saved:

The Council of Florence declares concerning baptism: Pope Eugene IV, The Council of Florence, “Exultate Deo,” Nov. 22, 1439, ex cathedra: “Holy baptism, which is the gateway to the spiritual life, holds the first place among all the sacraments; THROUGH IT WE ARE MADE MEMBERS OF CHRIST AND OF HIS BODY THE CHURCH. And since death entered the universe through the first man, ‘UNLESS WE ARE BORN AGAIN OF WATER AND THE SPIRIT, WE CANNOT,’ as the Truth says, ‘ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN [John 3:5]. The matter of THIS SACRAMENT IS REAL AND NATURAL WATER.”

Also, let’s not forget the clear dogma that teaches you absolutely must hold the Catholic Faith to be saved:

“Whoever wills to be saved, before all things it is necessary that he holds the Catholic Faith. Unless a person keeps this faith whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish eternally."- Council of Florence, 1442 A.D. (citing the universal and infallible Athanasian Creed)

Now pay careful attention to this dogma.  It specifically states that “through the sacrament of Holy Baptism, which has real and natural water, we are made members of Christ and of the Church”.


This dogma is clearThere is no other way you can interpret this dogma.  Further, Vatican I states you can never recede from, or make exceptions to dogmas:

"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 NAME OF A KIND OF DEEPER UNDERSTANDING." (Vatican I, Dz 1792; 1800; 1839).

Therefore, by making exceptions to the dogma from Exultate Deo by saying that the mere desire for baptism (rather than baptism) can make you a member of the Church, you have denied both Exultate Deo and Vatican I’s dogma that you may not recede from any dogmatic statement.

Your quotes from Thomas Aquinas and stories regarding the martyrs are not the infallible magisterium of the Church, and therefore cannot be used to override the dogmas I’ve just quoted.  So your arguments from both of those sources are improper to use, to attempt to refute the infallible magisterium.  Regarding the story of the Centurion, that has never been infallibly defined, and therefore cannot be used to override the clear dogmas regarding the necessity of baptism.  Also, it could possibly be argued, that if it is a true story, since he went into the water, he may have been miraculously baptized by Christ before his death according to the proper defined way.  This is a clear fallacy on your part.  You cannot use fallible stories and writings to attempt to refute or ignore infallible dogmas.

Your quotation from the Council of Trent, Session 6 Chapter 4, was already explained in my last e-mail.  You must have both baptism and the desire for baptism.  Trent used the word “or a desire for it” because “or” can be used to exclude a particular category, or it can be used to include both categories.  For example, “I cannot travel to New York City without a carriage or horse”.  In this case, the “or” signifies that you need both a carriage and horse.  The “or” is also present because of infants, since they cannot desire baptism.  You are using this vague statement from Trent, which has multiple interpretations, to attempt to override the clear statement from Exultate Deo (and other clear magisterial statements).

The statements from Pope Pius IX that you used are also vague, and cannot be used to override Exultate Deo. You are right to say Pius IX is not a heretic.  He is a valid Pope, and a holy Pope.  But you are not properly interpreting the vague words in his statement.

There are, of course, those who are struggling with invincible ignorance about our most holy religion. Sincerely observing the natural law and its precepts inscribed by God on all hearts and ready to obey God, they live honest lives and are able to attain eternal life by the efficacious virtue of divine light and grace.”

The key question, therefore, is what is meant by the vague statementefficacious virtue of divine light and grace.”  If you look at the other infallible, clearer dogmas, like the one from Exultate Deo, that I quoted above, it clearly means that the ones struggling with invincible ignorance will actually at some point receive and hold the Catholic Faith (as required by the Athanasian Creed), and will actually receive baptism in water.  After all, the true gospel is called the “light shining in the darkness”.  So this corresponds perfectly.  This is what “efficacious virtue of divine light and grace” means, in clearer terms. 

So, hopefully you now see that your primary error is taking vague magisterial statements, and attempting to use them to ignore clear magisterial statements.  If something is unclear or vague, you need to use the clearer statements to understand the vague statements properly.

-Pope Boniface X,

Servant of the Servants of God

DELIVERED this 8th day of January, 2014

[Antipope Michael has continued to hold to his heresies despite this epistle warning him to abandon them.]