By Bro. Peter Dimond, O.S.B.
Against the Heresies by Archbishop Lefebvre
Open Letter to Confused Catholics by Archbishop Lefebvre
Baptism of Desire by Fr. John-Marc Rulleau
Is Feeneyism Catholic? by Fr. Francois Laisney
* Note: this section exposing Against the Heresies by Archbishop Lefebvre, Baptism of Desire by Fr. Rulleau, and Is Feeneyism Catholic? by Fr. Francois Laisney comes from the book Outside the Catholic Church There is Absolutely No Salvation. The aforementioned books of the SSPX have been widely disseminated in all areas of the traditionalist movement. The book Is Feeneyism Catholic?, for example, was even advertised in The Remnant, and has been used by many different groups to poison the faith of Catholics. That is why it is important for Catholics to see lies and heresies in these books exposed.
I will give a brief overview of the heresies present in the writings of Archbishop Lefebvre, followed by a more in-depth exposé of the SSPX’s recent works.
1. Page 216: “Evidently, certain distinctions must be made. Souls can be saved in a religion other than the Catholic religion (Protestantism, Islam, Buddhism, etc.), but not by this religion. There may be souls who, not knowing Our Lord, have by the grace of the good Lord, good interior dispositions, who submit to God…But some of these persons make an act of love which implicitly is equivalent to baptism of desire. It is uniquely by this means that they are able to be saved.”
2. Page 217: “One cannot say, then, that no one is saved in these religions…”
3. Pages 217-218: “This is then what Pius IX said and what he condemned. It is necessary to understand the formulation that was so often employed by the Fathers of the Church: ‘Outside the Church there is no salvation.’ When we say that, it is incorrectly believed that we think that all the Protestants, all the Moslems, all the Buddhists, all those who do not publicly belong to the Catholic Church go to hell. Now, I repeat, it is possible for someone to be saved in these religions, but they are saved by the Church, and so the formulation is true: Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus. This must be preached.”
What we see here from the founder of the Society of St. Pius X is blatant heresy. He directly contradicts the solemnly defined dogma that Outside the Catholic Church There is No Salvation. Some adherents of the Society of St. Pius X have tried to defend these heretical words of Archbishop Lefebvre by pointing out that, although he did say that men can be saved in other religions, he emphasized that it is by the Catholic Church.
This response is a pathetic attempt to defend the indefensible. In fact, those who attempt to defend Lefebvre in this way actually mock God. I could say that all men go to heaven (universal salvation), but all men go to heaven “by the Catholic Church.” Does this change the heresy? No, of course not. Thus, it doesn’t matter how Lefebvre tried to explain away or justify his heresy; he was still teaching that souls can be saved in non-Catholic religions, which is heresy!
The dogma of the Catholic Church does not merely affirm that “no one is saved except by the Catholic Church”; it states that no one is saved outside the Catholic Church and that no one is saved without the Catholic Faith. This means that no one can be saved inside non-Catholic religions. The defenders of the SSPX need to get that through their heads. The dogma of the Catholic Church excludes the idea that anyone is saved in another religion.
Pope Gregory XVI, Summo Iugiter Studio (# 2), May 27, 1832: “Finally some of these misguided people attempt to persuade themselves and others that men are not saved only in the Catholic religion, but that even heretics may attain eternal life.”
Since he was teaching that people can be saved in another religion, Lefebvre’s emphasis that everyone is saved by the Catholic Church has no relevance. The words of Pope Gregory XVI in Summo Iugiter Studio cited above could have been addressed specifically to Bishop Lefebvre and the Society of St. Pius X.
Bishop Lefebvre, Sermon at first Mass of a newly ordained priest (Geneva: 1976): “We are Catholics; we affirm our faith in the divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ; we affirm our faith in the divinity of the Holy Catholic Church; we think that Jesus Christ is the sole way, the sole truth, the sole life, and that one cannot be saved outside Our Lord Jesus Christ and consequently outside His Mystical Spouse, the Holy Catholic Church. No doubt, the graces of God are distributed outside the Catholic Church, but those who are saved, even outside the Catholic Church, are saved by the Catholic Church, by Our Lord Jesus Christ, even if they do not know it, even if they are unaware of it…”
Here Lefebvre denies the dogma word for word.
Bishop Lefebvre, Address given at Rennes, France: “If men are saved in Protestantism, Buddhism or Islam, they are saved by the Catholic Church, by the grace of Our Lord, by the prayers of those in the Church, by the blood of Our Lord as individuals, perhaps through the practice of their religion, perhaps of what they understand in their religion, but not by their religion…”
Notice again, in fact, how Bishop Lefebvre stated that men can be saved by the practice of false religions.
Pope Pius IX, Qui Pluribus (# 15), Nov. 9, 1846: “Also perverse is that shocking theory that it makes no difference to which religion one belongs, a theory greatly at variance even with reason. By means of this theory, those crafty men remove all distinction between virtue and vice, truth and error, honorable and vile action. They pretend that men can gain eternal salvation by the practice of any religion, as if there could ever be any sharing between justice and iniquity, any collaboration between light and darkness, or any agreement between Christ and Belial.”
Pages 73-74: “Does this mean that no Protestant, no Muslim, no Buddhist or animist will be saved? No, it would be a second error to think that. Those who cry for intolerance in interpreting St. Cyprian’s formula Outside the Church there is no salvation, also reject the Creed, “I accept one baptism for the remission of sins,” and are insufficiently instructed as to what baptism is. There are three ways of receiving it: the baptism of water; the baptism of blood (that of martyrs who confessed their faith while still catechumens); and baptism of desire. Baptism can be explicit. Many times in Africa I heard one of our catechumens say to me, “Father, baptize me straightaway because if I die before you come again, I shall go to hell.” I told him, “No, if you have no mortal sin on your conscience and if you desire baptism, then you already have the grace in you…”
Here we find more heresy against the dogma Outside the Catholic Church There is No Salvation from Bishop Lefebvre.
Recently, the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX – Lefebvrists) published two books attacking the teaching of the Church on Baptism. They spend their time trying to figure out ways for people to be saved without baptism – but to no avail. Baptism of Desire by Fr. Jean-Marc Rulleau was published by the SSPX in 1999, while Is Feeneyism Catholic? by Fr. Francois Laisney was published in 2001. I will examine both of these books in detail. I will break up the examination of these books into separate topics of omissions, lies, contradictions and heresies. This will enable the reader to identify the dishonesty and unorthodoxy of these authors and the group they represent.
I will begin with the book Baptism of Desire by Fr. Rulleau.
- The book Baptism of Desire by Fr. Jean-Marc Rulleau pretends to be an examination of the Church’s teaching on what is necessary for salvation: the necessity of baptism, the necessity of faith in Jesus Christ, etc. Yet amazingly, in the entire book, the author does not quote one (I repeat, not one) of the ex cathedra (infallible) Papal statements on Outside the Church There is No Salvation! I guess he didn’t feel they were relevant? He probably didn’t feel that they were relevant because he does not believe in them.
- Despite having an entire section on the necessity of explicit vs. implicit faith in Jesus Christ (pp. 53-62), Fr. Rulleaus fails to quote, in the entire book, the Athanasian Creed, the dogmatic symbol of faith which defined that faith in Jesus Christ and the Trinity is necessary for all who wish to be saved. If he had simply quoted this creed, Fr. Rulleau could have settled the whole issue which he spends pages examining. Unfortunately, he does not quote the Creed, probably because he does not believe in it.
- Canons 2 and 5 from the Council of Trent’s Canons on the Sacrament of Baptism are not quoted anywhere in the book. This is interesting, because one would think that what the Council of Trent defined about the necessity of baptism might come up in a book about the necessity of baptism.
Notice that the major omissions of Father Rulleau concern the Church’s dogmatic teaching: on no salvation outside the Church, on faith in Jesus Christ and the Trinity, on the necessity of the Sacrament of Baptism. The Society of St. Pius X, unfortunately, is not interested in what the Church teaches dogmatically.
While failing to quote key dogmas, Fr. Rulleau did feel it important to mention that:
- it is an error to attribute infallibility to every document of the Magisterium (p. 9). – heresy.
- justifying faith can come from the Christian elements present in false religions (p. 61).- heresy.
- it is difficult to say whether belief in God who rewards is all that is necessary to be saved (p. 63) – heresy.
- it cannot be granted that justifying faith occurs normally in every religious tradition (p. 63), which implies that it can occur in every religious tradition, just not normally. – heresy.
- Baptism of Desire can occur among paganism (p. 64). – heresy.
- Fr. Rulleau, Baptism of Desire, p. 63: “This baptism of desire makes up for the want of sacramental baptism… The existence of this mode of salvation is a truth taught by the Magisterium of the Church and held from the first centuries by all the Fathers. No Catholic theologian has contested it.”
This is an utter lie! As I have shown, the whole early Church rejected the idea that an unbaptized catechumen could be saved by his desire for baptism, including the 1 or 2 fathers who seemed to contradict themselves on the matter. This is why, throughout the whole early Church, prayer, sacrifice and Christian burial were not allowed for catechumens who died without baptism. To assert, in the face of these facts, that “no theologian has contested it” is outrageous – as proven in the large section on “Baptism of Desire and Baptism of Blood: Erroneous Traditions of Man.”
- On page 39, Fr. Rulleau misquotes the crucial passage from the fourth chapter of the Council of Trent’s Decree on Justification: “and this translation after the promulgation of the Gospel cannot be effected except through the laver of regeneration or a desire for it…” The Latin original of this passage from Trent does not translate to, “except through the laver of regeneration or a desire for it…” It translates to, “… without the laver of regeneration or a desire for it…”
Introducing “except through” in the place of “without” changes the entire meaning of the passage to favor baptism of desire (as shown in the Section on Sess. 6, Chap. 4 of the Council of Trent). To do it deliberately is a mortal sin. Fr. Rulleau may have made an innocent mistake (by quoting this horribly misleading translation from Denzinger), but the point is that the Society of St. Pius X as a whole continues to use this horribly misleading translation all the time to deceive their readers even after they have been made aware of it. Fr. Peter Scott, former United States District Superior of the SSPX, in a recent Regina Coeli Report, misquoted this passage again in the same way to favor baptism of desire. This type of obstinate misrepresentation of Church teaching is mortally sinful.
Fr. Rulleau’s treatment of St. Thomas Aquinas is where his dishonesty really begins to shine through.
- On page 11, Fr. Rulleau makes the absurd statement: “Quite simply, to refuse St. Thomas Aquinas is to refuse the Magisterium of the Church.”
St. Thomas is one of the greatest doctors in the history of the Church and one of the most brilliant men to have ever lived; but it is well known that he erred on a number of points, as discussed in the section on “St. Thomas Aquinas.” St. Thomas did not believe that Mary was conceived immaculately (cf. Summa Theologica, Pt. III, Q. 14, Art. 3, Reply to Obj. 1). According to the absolutely ridiculous assertion of Fr. Rulleau, to believe in the dogma of the Immaculate Conception is to refuse the Magisterium, because St. Thomas didn’t believe in it! Such a position is equivalent to heresy. Why does Fr. Rulleau assert such nonsense? Simply because St. Thomas believed in baptism of desire and Fr. Rulleau wants to prove that that fact alone requires Catholics to submit to it. But notice how, when presented with a doctrine of St. Thomas which Fr. Rulleau is not ready to accept, he quickly abandons his ridiculous principle that “to refuse St. Thomas Aquinas is to refuse the Magisterium of the Church.”
- ·Fr. Rulleau, Baptism of Desire, pp. 56-57: “From this survey it appears that St. Thomas opts for the necessity of an act of explicit faith in the Incarnation and the Trinity, and, more generally, in the mysteries of faith. To the question of how a man can be saved if he has not been evangelized by missionaries, he replies that God sees to it by giving an interior inspiration or by sending a missionary. How should this doctrine of St. Thomas be interpreted? What weight should it be given. The theologians have not been unanimous.”
In this paragraph, Fr. Rulleau is analyzing St. Thomas’ clear teaching that no one can be saved without explicit faith in Jesus Christ and the Trinity – in other words, no salvation for the invincibly ignorant and no salvation for those of non-Catholic religions.
St. Thomas, Summa Theologica: “After grace had been revealed, both the learned and simple folk are bound to explicit faith in the mysteries of Christ, chiefly as regards those which are observed throughout the Church, and publicly proclaimed, such as the articles which refer to the Incarnation, of which we have spoken above.”
Saint Thomas, Summa Theologica: “And consequently, when once grace had been revealed, all were bound to explicit faith in the mystery of the Trinity.”
In regard to the objection about one who had never heard of Christ, St. Thomas replies:
St. Thomas Aquinas, Sent. II, 28, Q. 1, A. 4, ad 4: “If a man, born among barbarian nations, does what he can, God himself will show him what is necessary for salvation, either by inspiration or by sending a teacher to him.”
St. Thomas Aquinas, Sent. III, 25, Q. 2, A. 2, solut. 2: “If a man should have no one to instruct him, God will show him, unless he culpably wishes to remain where he is.”
St. Thomas Aquinas, De Veritate, 14, A. 11, ad 1: objection- “It is possible that someone may be brought up in the forest, or among wolves; such a man cannot explicitly know anything about the faith. Reply- It is the characteristic of Divine Providence to provide every man with what is necessary for salvation… provided on his part there is no hindrance. In the case of a man who seeks good and shuns evil, by the leading of natural reason, God would either reveal to him through internal inspiration what had to be believed, or would send some preacher of the faith to him…”
St. Thomas repeatedly and unambiguously refuted the heresy that “invincible ignorance” saves. He affirmed that explicit faith in the mysteries of the Trinity and the Incarnation is absolutely necessary. If Fr. Rulleau is honest, he should not refuse this position of St. Thomas, for that would be, according to his own words, “to refuse the Magisterium of the Church.” But no, Fr. Rulleau demonstrates remarkable dishonesty by asking:
“How should this doctrine of St. Thomas be interpreted? What weight should it be given. The theologians have not been unanimous.”
So much for “to refuse St. Thomas Aquinas is to refuse the Magisterium of the Church”! Fr. Rulleau quickly abandons this position when presented with a doctrine from St. Thomas with which he and his heretical cohorts don’t agree. The Society of St. Pius X rejects the necessity of explicit faith in the Trinity and Incarnation – as the quotes from Lefebvre prove – so, in an act of astounding hypocrisy, they abandon St. Thomas when he teaches this, and bind others to St. Thomas’ opinion when he teaches baptism of desire!
Published in 2001, Fr. Laisney’s book was a masterpiece in deceit. There are startling and shockingly dishonest things in his book, which will be exposed in the “Lies” section.
- On page 21, Fr. Laisney comments on the necessity of explicit faith in Jesus Christ: “… how much is exactly necessary to know explicitly has not been settled.” This statement clearly implies that it has not been settled whether it is necessary for salvation to believe in the Most Holy Trinity and that Jesus Christ is God and man, which is a denial of the Athanasian Creed, not to mention the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas which they claim to love so much.
- Fr. Laisney, Is Feeneyism Catholic?, p. 47: “Moreover, the very Council of Florence, in the very same decree for the Jacobites (part of the bull Cantate Domino) mentions baptism of desire.” This is a complete lie! The Council of Florence makes no mention at all of baptism of desire and Fr. Laisney knows this! The fact that Laisney can write such a thing – and the fact that the Society of St. Pius X prints it – is abominable. This is a horrible sign for the SSPX. Deceit of this magnitude reveals that they are on the side of the devil.
- As if his horrible lie above weren’t bad enough, Fr. Laisney commits another equally horrendous lie on the next page regarding the Council of Florence: “Thus far from being against Baptism of Desire, the very Council of Florence, the very bull Cantate Domino, teaches it as being ‘another remedy’ permitting a delay for adult catechumens for the reasons given by St. Thomas.” This borders on a sin that cries to heaven. Not only does Laisney again assert the blatant untruth that baptism of desire is taught by the Council of Florence, but he even adds that Florence teaches it as being another remedy, putting “another remedy” in quotation marks! This is a complete lie! This type of dishonesty is mind-boggling. And then Fr. Laisney proceeds to write that Florence permitted a delay in baptizing adult catechumens for the reasons given by St. Thomas. But the Council of Florence mentions nothing of adult catechumens! Fr. Laisney is literally adding things to the Council that aren’t there. Wake up, you supporters of the SSPX!
- After quoting the document Quanto Conficiamur Moerore of Pope Pius IX (treated in the section “The Dogma, Pope Pius IX and Invincible Ignorance”), Fr. Laisney writes: “This passage of Pope Pius IX shows clearly: 1) baptism of desire is not opposed to the dogma outside the Catholic Church there is no salvation, 2) baptism of desire is not without divine light and grace… 3) baptism of desire is incompatible with indifference to God…”The document Quanto Conficiamur Moerore mentions nothing at all about baptism of desire. It mentions neither the concept nor the term. Yet Laisney, having no shame (and apparently not much of a conscience), does not hesitate to lie on three different counts, by asserting that Pius IX reveals three different aspects of baptism of desire. This type of lying has truly diabolical effects, because the lax readers of Fr. Laisney’s books, who don’t possess the resources to check his sources, will come away with the impression that Fr. Laisney must be right. This is how heretics kill souls.
- On page 38, Fr. Laisney says: “Ex ipso voto, the very term used by the Council of Trent, thereby giving to St. Thomas Aquinas the approbation of an infallible Council. Some followers of Father Feeney claim that the Council of Trent did not uphold this teaching of St. Thomas on baptism of desire… We see here how false this claim is.”
Fr. Laisney’s argument here is that the Council of Trent used the same term that St. Thomas did (ex ipso voto) when defining on the necessity of baptism. Thus, according to him, it embraced St. Thomas’ teaching on baptism of desire. The problem for Fr. Laisney, however, is that nowhere does the Council of Trent use the term “ex ipso voto” in regard to baptism or justification (and, to my knowledge, nowhere at all)! The term used in Sess. 6, Chap. 4 (the passage Laisney wrongly believes favors his view) is not ex ipso voto, but “aut eius voto.” Also, the term used in Sess. 7, Can. 4 (which Laisney also wrongly believes favors his view) is not ex ipso voto either, but “aut eorum voto.” Does the fact that he attributes a term to Trent, which is not to be found in Trent, matter to him at all? Apparently not.
As they are used in their respective contexts, the terms that Trent did employ do not favor baptism of desire, as shown in the sections on Trent’s teaching in this document. But this is another example of how Fr. Laisney feels that he can just add terms to Trent according to his own whim. He remains oblivious to the fact that it is a mortal sin to knowingly attribute things to infallible documents which most certainly aren’t there. Laisney’s knowledge of Latin and familiarity with the topic are such that there is no excuse for him on the basis of an innocent mistake.
- Similar to the last lie, on page 49, Fr. Laisney writes: “The very famous expression ‘re aut voto – in deed or in desire’ was used twice by the Council of Trent, once in the explanation (‘chapter’) explicitly applied to the necessity of baptism and once even in an ex cathedra canon on the very necessity of sacraments in general.”
In the last lie that we exposed, Fr. Laisney was claiming that the term used by Trent was ex ipso voto. Here he decides to say that Trent used the expression “re aut voto (“in deed or in desire”) in Sess. 6, Chap. 4 and Sess. 7, Can. 4. Which one is it, Father Laisney?
Is it “re aut voto” or “ex ipso voto”? I guess the answer is: whatever is more convenient for Fr. Laisney. The problem for Fr. Laisney – and this seems to be a consistent problem – is that Trent also does not use the term “re aut voto” in either of these passages! Fr. Laisney has again added to an infallible document and deliberately misrepresented its teaching.
- On pages 85-86, Fr. Laisney writes: “The doctrine of baptism of blood and baptism of desire is inseparably linked by the Church to the dogma outside the Church there is no salvation. It belongs to the very proper understanding of that dogma, so much that if one denies it, he no longer holds that dogma in the same sense and the same words as the Church holds it.”
First of all, it’s ironic that Fr. Laisney uses the term “inseparably linked,” because it was Pope St. Leo the Great who defined that the sanctification of a sinner is inseparably linked to water baptism!
Pope St. Leo the Great, dogmatic letter to Flavian, Council of Chalcedon, 451: “For there are three who give testimony – Spirit and water and blood. And the three are one. (1 Jn. 5:4-8) IN OTHER WORDS, THE SPIRIT OF SANCTIFICATION AND THE BLOOD OF REDEMPTION AND THE WATER OF BAPTISM. THESE THREE ARE ONE AND REMAIN INDIVISIBLE. NONE OF THEM IS SEPARABLE FROM ITS LINK WITH THE OTHERS.”
So while Fr. Laisney raves about how inseparably linked baptism of desire and baptism of blood are to the dogma Outside the Church There is No Salvation, he actually uses the same language that the pronouncement of Pope St. Leo did, but with precisely the opposite meaning. He asserts that the idea that the Spirit of Sanctification can be separated from the water of baptism is “inseparably linked” to Catholic dogma; whereas Pope St. Leo defines dogmatically that the Spirit of Sanctification is inseparably linked to water baptism.
Besides this, what else can be said about the assertion, “The doctrine of baptism of blood and baptism of desire is inseparably linked by the Church to the dogma outside the Church there is no salvation”? The only thing that I can think of is, “Oh really?” Is that why in no less than seven ex cathedra pronouncements on “the dogma outside the Church there is no salvation,” the “doctrine of baptism of desire/blood” is not mentioned even once? Is that why in all the Councils in the history of the Church not one mention is made of either term? Is that why in no encyclical in the history of the Catholic Church was this “doctrine” taught? Yes, the “doctrines” of baptism of desire and baptism of blood are so inseparably linked to the dogma Outside the Catholic Church There is No Salvation that none of the many Popes who defined this dogma bothered to mention them. Fr. Laisney’s statement is just another lie.
- On page 87, Laisney asserts that “not a single one” opposed baptism of desire, apparently referring to saints and Popes.
In other words, according to Fr. Laisney, not a single saint or Pope in the history of the Church denied the existence of baptism of desire! This is the same lie that Fr. Rulleau asserted in his book. So my question is: Do these men have consciences? Fr. Laisney knows that St. Gregory Nazianz specifically denied the concept of baptism of desire (See “Baptism of Desire and Baptism of Blood: Erroneous Traditions of Man”), which makes his statement another lie. And we know for a fact that Fr. Laisney knows this, because the passage from St. Gregory is quoted on pages 64-65 of his book!
Father Laisney justifies his belief in baptism of desire exclusively on the teaching of saints. It is on this same authority that he attempts to justify binding others to baptism of desire.
- In his book (pp. 58-60), Fr. Laisney asserts that to deny St. Cyprian’s acceptance of baptism of blood is to distort the dogma Outside the Catholic Church There is No Salvation. Hence, he quotes St. Cyprian to “prove” his position. Yet, as I have shown in the section on the Fathers, in the same document of St. Cyprian, which Laisney quotes to justify his claim, St. Cyprian teaches that baptisms performed by heretics are invalid – an idea that has been infallibly condemned.
Hence, if Fr. Laisney were logical, he must teach that Catholics are bound to believe that baptisms performed by heretics are invalid, since St. Cyprian teaches this in the same document in which he teaches baptism of blood. But no, Fr. Laisney does not teach this and therefore contradicts his own line of reasoning. In fact, Cyprian’s rejection of the validity of baptisms performed by heretics is not the only error that he makes in the aforementioned document. He also teaches that baptism of blood is a sacrament, a position that is denied universally by all modern baptism of desire apologists, including Laisney himself.
- On page 68, Fr. Laisney quotes St. Bernard to justify baptism of desire. But, as I have shown, in the same document quoted by Laisney, St. Bernard not only admits that he may be wrong, but says this: “This intimated that sometimes faith alone would suffice for salvation, and that without it, nothing would be sufficient.”
But being the remarkable hypocrite that he is, Fr. Laisney does not dogmatize St. Bernard’s erroneous statement above, but only those passages from St. Bernard which he likes: the few on baptism of desire. And Laisney cuts out of the quotation the part where St. Bernard admitted that he may have been wrong (see section on St. Bernard in this document for the full discussion). Likewise, when the incredibly dishonest Fr. Laisney quotes St. Alphonsus, he does not include St. Alphonsus’ erroneous reference to Sess. 14, Chap. 4 because he knows that St. Alphonsus was dead wrong on this point. Further, when he quotes St. Robert Bellarmine on the Church, Laisney does not include where St. Robert Bellarmine says that catechumens are not part of the Church!
As I’ve said, in studying the quotations from saints and theologians which Laisney brings forward as “proof texts” for baptism of desire, I have found that in almost every single instance, the same saint or theologian makes another significant error in the same document. For example:
- On page 34 of his book, Fr. Laisney quotes Cornelius a Lapide’s commentary on John 3:5: “He who is contrite over his sins, wants baptism, and cannot receive it because of lack of water or minister, is reborn through resolution and desire of baptism. The Council of Trent explains this verse expressly so in Session 7, Canon 4 about the Sacraments in General.”
Here Cornelius a Lapide makes a major error. He says that the Council of Trent “expressly” explains John 3:5 in Sess. 7, Can. 4 to favor the idea of baptism of desire. But Sess. 7, Can. 4 does not mention John 3:5 at all. John 3:5 is not even mentioned in the entire decree on the Sacraments in General, so it most certainly does not explain John 3:5 “expressly” to favor baptism of desire.
But this instance is very useful for this discussion for this reason: If Lapide makes a major blunder about Trent’s teaching on John 3:5 (in fact, Lapide’s statement wasn’t even in the ballpark), then obviously he is vulnerable to other errors. To quote such passages from theologians as if they “confirm” the so-called baptism of desire, as Laisney does, is ridiculous. Lapide wasn’t even in the ballpark on what he was trying to convey; yet, according to the Society of St. Pius X, we are supposed to assent to his every sentence as an expression of infallible dogma.
I believe that there is a reason why God allowed these saints and theologians to err repeatedly and on various matters when explaining baptism of desire: to let people know that they are not infallible. Fr. Laisney and the SSPX most certainly do not get this message. They continue on in their diabolical campaign to denounce those who understand John 3:5 “as it is written” (Trent, Sess. 6, Chap. 4) and that the Sacrament of Baptism is necessary for salvation (Trent, Sess. 7, Can. 5 on the Sacrament of Baptism).
Besides the contradictions already exposed, there are others that must be considered in the SSPX book Is Feeneyism Catholic? The fact that a self-proclaimed “traditional Catholic priest,” Fr. Laisney, can lie about the Council of Florence the way that he does, makes it not that surprising when we find him contradicting himself all over the place.
- On page 22, Laisney states the following: “Note that an infant, not having yet the use of his reason, has no other possibility to be saved than through the actual reception of the sacrament of baptism, i.e., baptism of water.”
This statement is quite true, founded on solemnly defined dogma (See the section “Infants Cannot Be Saved Without Baptism”). But look at this:
- Fr. Laisney, Is Feeneyism Catholic?, p. 77: “He interestingly exposes at length the common teaching that baptism of blood applies also to infants (e.g., those who are martyred with their parents).”
Need I say more to prove that Fr. Laisney is a liar and an astounding hypocrite, who contradicts himself blatantly within just a few pages? Page 22 of his book says that there is “no other possibility” for infants’ salvation than through water baptism. Page 77 teaches quite clearly that “baptism of blood” applies to infants. So much for his statement on page 22! But it gets worse when we consider what Laisney had to say about the definition from the Council of Florence which declares that no infant can possibly be justified without the Sacrament of Baptism.
- On page 47, Fr. Laisney quotes the dogmatic definition from the Council of Florence: “Regarding children, indeed, because of danger of death, which can often take place, when no help can be brought to them by another remedy than through the sacrament of baptism, through which they are snatched from the domination of the Devil and adopted among the sons of God, it advises that holy baptism ought not be deferred for forty or eighty days, or any time according to the observance of certain people…”
A number of things are significant about Fr. Laisney’s treatment of this dogmatic definition. First is the fact that Fr. Laisney makes it a special point to note that Florence only mentioned children in this passage. He concludes that while there is no other remedy for children other than the Sacrament of Baptism, there is another remedy for original sin for adults (baptism of desire). He tries to bolster this position by pointing out that the above passage from Florence is a quotation from St. Thomas Aquinas, who (in the document quoted) goes on to teach that there is another remedy for adults. The problem for Fr. Laisney is that the Council of Florence did not incorporate St. Thomas’ paragraph on there being another remedy for adults, but stopped the quotation from him after stating that there is no other remedy for infants.
This fact should make Fr. Laisney think. Why did the Holy Ghost only allow Pope Eugene IV and the Council of Florence to incorporate the passage from St. Thomas on infants, and not his teaching in the very next paragraph on baptism of desire? Why didn’t God allow the Council to simply continue with the quotation only one more short paragraph, which would have made it clear once and for all that baptism of desire is a teaching of the Church? It’s obvious that the Holy Ghost wanted St. Thomas’ teaching on the Sacrament of Baptism being the only remedy for infants in the Council, and that He did not want St. Thomas’ teaching that baptism of desire is another remedy for adults in the Council. This is why the one paragraph appears and the other does not.
But what actually appears in the Council of Florence and what doesn’t is not a concern to Fr. Laisney, because when he finds that something is not in a Council which he wants to be there, he just adds it himself. In this case, Laisney decides to create his own definition by adding the paragraph of St. Thomas which Florence very specifically did not incorporate. I quote him again:
- Fr. Laisney, Is Feeneyism Catholic?, p. 47: “Moreover, the very Council of Florence, in the very same decree for the Jacobites (part of the bull Cantate Domino) mentions baptism of desire.”
- Fr. Laisney, Is Feeneyism Catholic?, p. 48: “Thus far from being against Baptism of Desire, the very Council of Florence, the very bull Cantate Domino, teaches it as being ‘another remedy’ permitting a delay for adult catechumens for the reasons given by St. Thomas.”
Sorry Fr. Laisney, but the Council of Florence did not mention baptism of desire, and it did not permit a delay for catechumens for the reasons given by St. Thomas. And it most certainly did not teach that baptism of desire is “another remedy” for adult catechumens. These thoughts of St. Thomas were not incorporated into the Council; but because you want them to be there so badly, you just couldn’t refrain from adding them in. Hence, you do not honestly report the teaching of the Church on the subject of Baptism, as you claim, but you lie about the content of the highest Magisterial pronouncements, because you are uncontrollably biased and obsessed in your quest to prove that people can be saved without baptism. What Florence did define, in fact, denies any possibility of salvation without water 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 the body of 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.”
So, let’s reconsider Fr. Laisney’s astounding contradictions on whether an infant can be saved without the Sacrament of Baptism. If Fr. Laisney made it a special point to lie that Florence taught that there is another remedy for adults, based (albeit illogically) on the fact that Florence did teach that there is no other remedy for infants, then at least one would expect that Fr. Laisney is going to be consistent with the fact that there is no other remedy for infants other than the Sacrament of Baptism, right? In other words, there is no way in the world that Fr. Laisney, if he is honest, could teach that there is another remedy for infants other than the Sacrament of Baptism. After all, this fact (that infants have no other remedy other than the Sacrament) is the basis upon which his lie (that there is another remedy for adults) is founded. But no! Fr. Laisney doesn’t even believe that infants have no other remedy, but rather holds that infants can be saved without the Sacrament of Baptism, according to page 77 of his book.
This proves that Fr. Laisney’s emphasis (on pages 47-48 of his book) that Florence defined that for children there is “no other remedy” other than the Sacrament of Baptism was made for one calculated reason. It was made in the hope of being able to prove that there is another remedy for adults – baptism of desire. His emphasis on this point was solely because he thought it would favor baptism of desire. His whole discussion about how Catholics must be faithful to the definition of Florence was a sham and a deception. Listen to this hypocrite explain how no one can deny the passage of Florence on there being no other remedy for infants other than baptism, which he himself denies in his book!
- Fr. Laisney, Is Feeneyism Catholic?, p. 48: “Thus far from being against Baptism of Desire, the very Council of Florence, the very bull Cantate Domino, teaches it as being ‘another remedy’ permitting a delay for adult catechumens for the reasons given by St. Thomas. And lest some follower of Fr. Feeney say that this passage is not infallible, let him consider that the paragraph on baptism from which it is taken starts with the very same words as the one on the Church: ‘[The Holy Roman Church] firmly believes, professes, and teaches that…’ Hence both paragraphs have the very same degree of authority.”
“Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites… Wherefore you are witnesses against yourselves… You serpents, generations of vipers, how will you flee from the judgment of hell?” (Mt. 23: 23,31,33). Fr. Laisney’s activity is that of a serpent, the same serpent who is responsible for the appalling deception in his book. Fr. Laisney is condemned by his own words. He contradicts that to which he admits he is bound, and which he took great pains to emphasize. But the pains taken to emphasize this dogma – that infants have no other remedy than water baptism – were not taken out of a spirit of fidelity to the teaching of the Church, but only in the hopeless endeavor of trying to prove the false doctrine of baptism of desire.
And ironically, while Laisney claims his false position as the teaching of Tradition, it is Tradition which shows that water baptism is the only help (i.e., the only remedy) to salvation for everyone, even adults who desire it.
Pope St. Siricius, Letter to Himerius, 385: “As we maintain that the observance of the holy Paschal time should in no way be relaxed, in the same way we desire that infants who, on account of their age, cannot yet speak, or those who, in any necessity, are in want of the water of holy baptism, be succored with all possible speed, for fear that, if those who leave this world should be deprived of the life of the Kingdom for having been refused the source of salvation which they desired, this may lead to the ruin of our souls. If those threatened with shipwreck, or the attack of enemies, or the uncertainties of a siege, or those put in a hopeless condition due to some bodily sickness, ASK FOR WHAT IN THEIR FAITH IS THEIR ONLY HELP, let them receive at the very moment of their request the reward of regeneration they beg for. Enough of past mistakes! From now on, let all the priests observe the aforesaid rule if they do not want to be separated from the solid apostolic rock on which Christ has built his universal Church.”
One could go on exposing the books of the Society of St. Pius X, but what has been shown thus far should suffice to establish that they do not uphold Church teaching, to put it nicely. No one can give a penny of financial support to this heretical Society or the St. Benedict Center or any other priest or group who does not uphold the Church’s teaching on the absolute necessity of baptism and the absolute necessity of the Catholic Faith for salvation, which unfortunately includes almost every priest today. One who would obstinately support such a priest, after becoming aware of his heretical position, would partake in his heresy and place himself on the road to Hell.
Furthermore, in light of Pope St. Leo the Great’s dogmatic pronouncement against the concepts of baptism of desire and baptism of blood, the teaching of the Council of Florence on John 3:5, and the teaching of the Council of Trent that the Sacrament of Baptism is necessary for salvation (Sess. 7, Can. 5), no one could even support a priest who believes in the theory of explicit baptism of desire (even if that priest may be in good faith until the Church’s teaching is pointed out to him). The first duty of any Catholic is to uphold the faith. One cannot compromise any point of the faith by supporting a priest who does not hold the faith whole and undefiled.
Unfortunately, the Society of St. Pius X is not alone among heretical “traditionalists”. It is a fact that almost every priest in the world today, including almost every “traditional” priest, denies the necessity of baptism for salvation, and holds that people who die as non-Catholics can attain salvation. This lack of faith is explained by the fact that we are living in the last days of the world, the times of the Great Apostasy predicted in Sacred Scripture.
 Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, Against the Heresies, p. 216.
 Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, Against the Heresies, p. 217.
 Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, Against the Heresies, pp. 217-218.
 The Papal Encyclicals, Vol. 1 (1740-1878), p. 229.
 Brother Robert Mary, Father Feeney and The Truth About Salvation, pp. 213-214.
 Quoted in Bro. Robert Mary, Fr. Feeney and the Truth About Salvation, p. 213.
 The Papal Encyclicals, Vol. 1 (1740-1878), p. 280.
 Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, Open Letter to Confused Catholics, Angelus Press, pp. 73-74.
 Fr. Jean-Marc Rulleau, Baptism of Desire, p. 63.
 Fr. Jean-Marc Rulleau, Baptism of Desire, p. 39.
 Fr. Jean-Marc Rulleau, Baptism of Desire, p. 11.
 Fr. Jean-Marc Rulleau, Baptism of Desire, pp. 56-57.
 St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Pt. II-II, Q. 2., A. 7.
 St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Pt. II-II, Q. 2., A. 8.
 St. Thomas Aquinas, Sent. II, 28, Q. 1, A. 4, ad 4; quoted by Fr. Jean-Marc Rulleau, Baptism of Desire, p. 55.
 St. Thomas Aquinas, Sent. III, 25, Q. 2, A. 2, solut. 2; quoted by Fr. Jean-Marc Rulleau, Baptism of Desire, p. 55.
 St. Thomas Aquinas, De Veritate, 14, A. 11, ad 1; quoted by Fr. Jean-Marc Rulleau, Baptism of Desire, pp. 55-56.
 Fr. Jean-Marc Rulleau, Baptism of Desire, pp. 56-57.
 Fr. Francois Laisney, Is Feeneyism Catholic, p. 47.
 Fr. Francois Laisney, Is Feeneyism Catholic, p. 48.
 Fr. Francois Laisney, Is Feeneyism Catholic, p. 52.
 Fr. Francois Laisney, Is Feeneyism Catholic, p. 38.
 Fr. Francois Laisney, Is Feeneyism Catholic, p. 49.
 Fr. Francois Laisney, Is Feeneyism Catholic, pp. 85-86.
 Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, Vol. 1, p. 81.
 Fr. Francois Laisney, Is Feeneyism Catholic, p. 59.
 Fr. Francois Laisney, Is Feeneyism Catholic, p. 9.
 Fr. Francois Laisney, Is Feeneyism Catholic, p. 68.
 Fr. Francois Laisney, Is Feeneyism Catholic, p. 77.
 Fr. Francois Laisney, Is Feeneyism Catholic, p. 76.
 Fr. Francois Laisney, Is Feeneyism Catholic, p. 34.
 Fr. Francois Laisney, Is Feeneyism Catholic, p. 34.
 Fr. Francois Laisney, Is Feeneyism Catholic, p. 22.
 Fr. Francois Laisney, Is Feeneyism Catholic, p. 77.
 Fr. Francois Laisney, Is Feeneyism Catholic, p. 47.
 Fr. Francois Laisney, Is Feeneyism Catholic, p. 47.
 Fr. Francois Laisney, Is Feeneyism Catholic, p. 48.
 Denzinger 696; Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, Vol. 1, p. 542.
 Fr. Francois Laisney, Is Feeneyism Catholic, pp. 48-49.
 Fr. Jacques Dupuis, S.J. and Fr. Josef Neuner, S.J., The Christian Faith, p. 540.