Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Litany of Heresies

As I'm a guy who aims to please, I will be posting excerpts from my letter to the bishop referenced in this post. These will just be a brief restatement of the heretical idea being taught by the folks in question to converting Catholics along with a rebuttal and citations. This is being done per request, but if anyone wants further elaboration on how the topic was presented in the RCIA group or whatever, just let me know.

Heresy #1.
The claim that infant baptism is a regrettable practice as it deprives the infant of the memory and emotional sentiment of the occasion. The practice is regarded as founded upon “legalism.” The corollary to this belief is the denial of the regenerative and efficacious aspects of baptism. This includes denying that baptism, confirmation, and holy orders confer an indelible mark upon the soul of the recipient.

The above statements are contrary to de fide dogmas of the Catholic faith. This was infallibly and irreformably settled at the Seventh Session of the Council of Trent:

If any one saith, that baptism is free, that is, not necessary unto salvation; let him be anathema.[1]

If any one saith, that no one is to be baptized save at that age at which Christ was baptized, or in the very article of death; let him be anathema.[2]

If any one saith, that little children, for that they have not actual faith, are not, after having received baptism, to be reckoned amongst the faithful; and that, for this cause, they are to be rebaptized when they have attained to years of discretion; or, that it is better that the baptism of such be omitted, than that, while not believing by their own act, they should be bapized in the faith alone of the Church; let him be anathema.[3]

If any one saith, that those who have been thus baptized when children, are, when they have grown up, to be asked whether they will ratify what their sponsors promised in their names when they were baptized; and that, in case they answer that they will not, they are to be left to their own will; and are not to be compelled meanwhile to a Christian life by any other penalty, save that they be excluded from the participation of the Eucharist, and of the other sacraments, until they repent; let him be anathema.[4]

The matter was disposed of even earlier by the Council of Florence:

With regard to children, since the danger of death is often present and the only remedy available to them is the sacrament of baptism by which they are snatched away from the dominion of the devil and adopted as children of God, it admonishes that sacred baptism is not to be deferred for forty or eighty days or any other period of time in accordance with the usage of some people, but it should be conferred as soon as it conveniently can; and if there is imminent danger of death, the child should be baptized straightaway without any delay, even by a lay man or a woman in the form of the church, if there is no priest, as is contained more fully in the decree on the Armenians.[5]

As to indelible marks upon the soul, Trent again provides the definitive response:

If any one saith, that, in . . . Baptism there is not imprinted in the soul a character, that is, a certain spiritual and indelible Sign, on account of which they cannot be repeated; let him be anathema.[6]

The statements by the above Councils are grounded squarely in the teachings of the Church Fathers[7] all the up to the modern times and our previous Holy Father John Paul II.[8]

I also mention at this point that I am not desiring, nor even contemplating, arguments based upon the existence of the Limbus Infantum. It has been stated by RCIA instructors that the practice of infant baptism arose subsequent to the Apostles and from concern that unbaptized children would be damned. Regardless of one’s position on the existence of Limbo, the earliest patristic sources do not mention it as a concern in their writings.[9] The attempt to cast the beliefs in such a holy practice as a mere by-product of a “primitive” time is abhorrent.

[1] Council of Trent, Session VII, On Baptism, Canon V.
[2] Id. at Canon XII.
[3] Id. at Canon XIII.
[4] Id. at Canon XIV.
[5] Council of Florence, Session XI, Multa Sanctorum Patrum (Bull of Union with the Copts). See also Session VIII, Bull of Union with the Armenians.
[6] Council of Trent, Session VII, On the Sacraments in General, Canon IX. Cf. Session V, On Original Sin.
[7] St. Hippolytus, The Apostolic Tradition 21:16; St. John Chrysostom, Baptismal Catechesis in Augustine, Against Julian 1:6:21. Cf. St. Augustine, Forgiveness, Sin, and the Baptism of Infants.
[8] Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on Infant Baptism, approved by His Holiness on October 20, 1980; Catechism of the Catholic Church 1250-1274.
[9] See St. Hippolytus, n. 8, supra.; St, Irenaeus, Against Heresies 2:22:4 and Fragment 34.

1 comment:

Dan said...

Thanks for pulling out the relevant texts from the early Councils. Very spiritually edifying, indeed!