Bro. Peter Dimond
Certain supporters of “baptism of desire” (BOD) believe they have discovered proof for the “doctrine” in Pope Leo XIII’s 1884 encyclical Humanum Genus. One obstinate BOD heretic triumphantly cited the passage as if it teaches “baptism of desire.” Others bring it forward as well. However, as we will see, the argument is fallacious. It only further reveals that they cannot substantiate their position with the actual teaching of the Magisterium.
A MISTRANSLATION OF HUMANUM GENUS
Here’s the passage as they quote it, and as it appears in a number of commonly used English translations:
ENCYCLICAL OF POPE LEO XIII ON FREEMASONRY APRIL 20, 1884
To the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, and Bishops of the Catholic World in Grace and Communion with the Apostolic See.
TRANSLATION CITED BY CERTAIN SUPPORTERS OF “BAPTISM OF DESIRE”
“The race of man, after its miserable fall from God, the Creator and the Giver of heavenly gifts, ‘through the envy of the devil,’ separated into two diverse and opposite parts, of which the one steadfastly contends for truth and virtue, the other of those things which are contrary to virtue and to truth. The one is the kingdom of God on earth, namely, the true Church of Jesus Christ; and those who desire from their heart to be united with it, so as to gain salvation, must of necessity serve God and His only-begotten Son with their whole mind and with an entire will. The other is the kingdom of Satan, in whose possession and control are all whosoever follow the fatal example of their leader and of our first parents, those who refuse to obey the divine and eternal law, and who have many aims of their own in contempt of God, and many aims also against God.”
The supporters of “baptism of desire” and salvation without the Catholic faith emphasize this line: “and those who desire from the heart to be united with it, so as to gain salvation.” According to them, this means that people who are not baptized and not Catholic can be “united” to the Church and saved by “desire.” Just before citing the passage from Humanum Genus, one obstinately heretical supporter of BOD (who apparently relies on the arguments of a “John Anthony Marie”) enthusiastically declared: “Thank you John Anthony Marie, Baptism of Desire is de fide, pity on those who deny it.”
However, as always, the supporters of “baptism of desire” are wrong. They have 1) relied on a false translation of the passage, and 2) ignored the context which makes the Pope’s actual meaning quite clear even with the false translation.
A PROPER TRANSLATION OF THE PASSAGE
Here’s the Latin of the passage, with a much better English translation:
ENCYCLICAL OF POPE LEO XIII ON FREEMASONRY APRIL 20, 1884
“Humanum genus, posteaquam a creatore munerumque caelestium largitore Deo invidia Diaboli miserrime defecit, in partes duas diversas adversasque discessit; quarum altera assidue pro veritate et virtute propugnat, altera pro iis quae virtuti sunt veritatique contraria. Alterum Dei est in terris regnum, vera scilicet Iesu Christi Ecclesia, cui qui volunt ex animo et convenienter ad salutem adhaerescere, necesse est Deo et Unigenito Filio eius tota mente ac summa voluntate servire: alterum Satanae est regnum, cuius in ditione et potestate sunt quicumque, funesta ducis sui et primorum parentum exempla secuti, parere divinae aeternaeque legi recusant, et multa posthabito Deo, multa contra Deum contendunt.”
“The human race, after it defected most miserably from God, the creator and bestower of heavenly gifts, through the envy of the Devil, separated into two diverse and opposed parts, of which the one assiduously fights for truth and virtue, the other for those things which are contrary to virtue and truth. The one is the Kingdom of God on Earth, namely the true Church of Jesus Christ, and those who wish from the heart to adhere to it conformably unto salvation must serve God and His Only-Begotten Son with their whole mind and with a supreme will. The other is the Kingdom of Satan, in whose sway and power are all those who, following the fatal example of their leader and our first parents, refuse to comply with the divine and eternal law, and in so many ways having slighted God, in so many ways strive against God.”
A proper translation, and an honest assessment of the context, makes it clear that this passage has nothing whatsoever to do with “baptism of desire.” The Pope is describing the ongoing obligation of Catholics to serve God and His Only-Begotten Son if they want “to adhere” to the Kingdom and be saved, rather than fall into the Kingdom of Satan and be lost.
The main problem with the mistranslation is that the translator rendered the verb adhaerescere as “to be united.” But adhaerescere means “to adhere, to cling, to cleave, to stick.” The Pope uses that verb because he’s giving a description of the ongoing requirements and effort needed for Catholics who are in the Church “to adhere” (adhaerescere) to the Kingdom of God on Earth (the Church), so that they are not swept into the Kingdom of Satan. In that very sentence, he says they “must serve God and His Only-Begotten Son with their whole mind and with a supreme will.” Of course, this has nothing to do with “baptism of desire.” (By the way, supporters of “baptism of desire” typically don’t even believe that one must know Jesus Christ, let alone serve God and His Only-Begotten Son in the Church.)
Even if one is relying on the inaccurate translation, the context makes it clear to any honest person that Pope Leo XIII’s passage does not teach “baptism of desire” at all. The passage is simply contrasting, in general terms, the Kingdom of God and those who fight for it, with the Kingdom of Satan and those who fight for it. The fact that supporters of “baptism of desire” bring this passage forward as if it proves “baptism of desire” only further reveals their profound dishonesty and desperation. It also exposes the bankruptcy of their position. They are true enemies of the Church, who will twist whatever they can find into the heresy that people don’t need the Catholic faith and Baptism to be saved.
It’s also interesting to note that Monsignor Joseph Clifford Fenton – a favorite of false traditionalists who believe in salvation outside the Church – also tried to use Humanum Genus. He falsely argued that it supported the idea of salvation without Baptism. The claim is totally false, as the aforementioned points demonstrate. The fact that Fenton made such an argument demonstrates again that he was a modernist dogma denier who distorted and perverted Catholic teaching, as we explain in our article about him.
SINCE THE MAGISTERIUM HAS NEVER TAUGHT “BAPTISM OF DESIRE” EVEN ONCE, THEY MUST RESORT TO SUCH SPECIOUS ARGUMENTS, MISTRANSLATIONS, LIES AND HALF-TRUTHS
In our materials we’ve emphasized that, in all of Church history, neither “baptism of desire” nor “baptism of blood” was taught even once by any pope in any document on faith or morals applying to the universal Church. Not once. That’s why supporters of “baptism of desire” resort to a deadly concoction of lies, fallible arguments, distortions, half-truths, and mistranslations to support their false position. The false argument advanced from Humanum Genus, which we’ve just refuted, is another case in point.
Supporters of “baptism of desire” are similar to the proponents of evolution. Evolutionists rely on half-truths, outright lies and sometimes subtle distortions. They pile them up and then present them to others. Yet every claim they make, when carefully examined, proves to be false. The same can be said about arguments for “baptism of desire.”
The defenders of “baptism of desire” are the equivalent of a boxer in a fight who throws punches at an incredible rate. He furiously throws one after the other, but none of his punches ever connect. Some of them miss wildly; others get closer to the head, yet still miss. Not even one hits the opponent. That’s because “baptism of desire” is not taught in anything stamped with the infallible protection of the Magisterium. Everything brought forward for BOD is from a fallible source, is a distortion or a lie.
THE ACTUAL TEACHING OF PAPAL ENCYCLICALS ON BAPTISM
Since they brought up the teaching of encyclicals, here’s the actual teaching of the Magisterium in papal encyclicals to the entire Church. It is that no one can be saved without the Sacrament of Baptism. That of course refutes “baptism of desire.” This is the teaching we find in every papal encyclical to the entire Church on the necessity of Baptism.
Pope Pius XI, Quas Primas (#15), Dec. 11, 1925, addressed to the universal Church, concerning entrance into the Kingdom of God: “Which Kingdom indeed is set forth in the Gospels as one into which men prepare to enter by doing penance but are unable to enter except through faith and baptism, which, although it is an external rite, nevertheless signifies and effects an interior regeneration.”
Pope Pius XII Mediator Dei (#47), Nov. 20, 1947, addressed to the universal Church, referring to the Sacrament of Baptism: “… the washing of baptism distinguishes and separates all Christians [christianos omnes] from the rest whom this stream of atonement has not washed and who are not members of Christ…”
Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis Christi (# 22), June 29, 1943, addressed to the universal Church: “Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have received the laver of regeneration and profess the true faith…”
A FEW WORDS ABOUT THE HERETIC “JOHN ANTHONY”
“John Anthony,” the “baptism of desire” supporter mentioned above in reference to the false argument from Humanum Genus, is a very wicked person. He obstinately denies the Church’s teaching on the necessity of water baptism and the Catholic faith for salvation. He also attacks Catholics who hold the true position, while holding that souls can be saved in false religions.
It’s interesting that we knew a man by that name. The John Anthony we knew has a last name that begins with “P”. If they are the same person (which is almost certainly the case), that’s noteworthy; for the John Anthony we knew some years ago claimed to agree with our position on salvation and baptism. However, during a conversation we had with him one day, John made a comment which expressed his belief that Jews, Muslims, etc. could be saved. Upon hearing it we immediately corrected John, and informed him that his position is a heretical denial of the dogma. John responded by stating that he thought the dogma Outside the Church There is No Salvation actually meant that we preach that there is no salvation for Jews, Muslims, etc., but that they actually could be saved without the Catholic faith or even without belief in Christ. In other words, John held the modernist heresy that dogmas are preceptive norms for acting, but not norms for believing.
Pope Pius X, Lamentabile, The Errors of the Modernists, July 3, 1907, #26: “The dogmas of faith are to be held only according to a practical sense, that is, as preceptive norms for action, but not as norms for believing.”- Condemned
In the conversation with John, we made it clear that his position constitutes a modernist rejection of Catholic dogma. It reveals that he actually doesn’t believe in the defined dogma at all. Since his modernist explanation is specifically addressed and refuted in our salvation book, he should have realized, well before our conversation occurred, that his view is incompatible with Catholic teaching. John was so dishonest, however, that while holding that Jews, Muslims, etc. can be saved, he convinced himself that he believed in the dogma, and that he even agreed with the material we published. That’s an astounding example of self-deception.
In short, John was a faithless and extremely dishonest heretic. He believed that souls could be saved in false religions and without faith in Christ. Not long after the conversation in which he was corrected, he changed his position. Apparently he’s now a vigorous proponent of heretical priests and the false doctrine of “baptism of desire.” We can see why.
We mention this because if the John with whom we spoke is “John Anthony Marie”, the heretic referenced above (and it almost certainly is), he’s another example of the type of demonic unbeliever and liar who is attracted to a tenacious promotion of “baptism of desire.”
They are people who do not (and probably never did) believe in Christ, papal infallibility and the dogmas of the Church. They are enemies of God and they don’t know Jesus Christ. They love “baptism of desire” and fight for it because they are evil. They believe that Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc. can be saved without the Catholic faith. They have no faith in God’s revelation, which teaches the opposite. They are full of dead men’s bones and filth (Mt. 23:37), fit for the eternal fire. That’s why evil people like John Anthony attack the true position and hate true Catholics who promote it; but they won’t escape the eternal responsibility for their lies and unbelief when they go before the Judgment Seat of Christ.
THE DOGMATIC TEACHING OF THE CHURCH THAT NO ONE CAN BE SAVED WITHOUT THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM
Below is the dogmatic teaching of the Catholic Church on Baptism. It’s perfectly consistent with the official teaching of papal encyclicals quoted above. It declares that there is only one way for people to be saved: to be reborn of water and the Holy Ghost in the Sacrament of Baptism, as Jesus taught in John 3:5. It specifically teaches that even those who desire water baptism, and find themselves in an accident, will lose the Kingdom and life if they depart life without the saving water (Pope St. Siricius). Receiving the Sacrament of Baptism is the only way for people to be saved. However, the all-powerful and just God can and will keep all His elect alive to receive water baptism: the unique help of faith. To obstinately teach anything else in the face of these facts is to contradict and deny the infallible teaching of the Catholic Church.
Pope Eugene IV, The Council of Florence, Exultate Deo, Nov. 22, 1439: “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.”
Pope Paul III, The Council of Trent, Can. 5 on the Sacrament of Baptism, Sess. 7, 1547: “If anyone says that baptism [the sacrament] is optional, that is, not necessary for salvation: let him be anathema.”
Pope Clement V, The Council of Vienne, 1311-1312: “Besides, one baptism regenerating all who are baptized in Christ must be faithfully confessed by all just as ‘one God and one faith’ [Eph. 4:5], which celebrated in water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit we believe to be the perfect remedy for salvation for both adults and children.”
Pope Clement V, The Council of Vienne, 1311-1312: “But since one is the universal Church, of regulars and seculars, of prelates and subjects, of exempt and non-exempt, outside of which absolutely (omnino) no one (nullus) is saved (salvatur), one is the Lord, one is the Faith and one is the baptism of all.”
Pope St. Siricius, Decree to Himerius, A.D. 385: “Therefore just as we say that the holy paschal observance is in no way to be diminished, we also say that to infants who will not yet be able to speak on account of their age or to those who in any necessity will need the holy stream of baptism, we wish succor to be brought with all celerity, lest it should tend to the perdition of our souls if the saving font be denied to those desiring it and every single one of them exiting this world lose both the Kingdom and life. Whoever should fall into the peril of shipwreck, the incursion of an enemy, the uncertainty of a siege or the desperation of any bodily sickness, and should beg to be relieved by the unique help of faith, let them obtain the rewards of the much sought-after regeneration in the same moment of time in which they beg for it. Let the previous error in this matter be enough; [but] now let all priests maintain the aforesaid rule, who do not want to be torn from the solidity of the apostolic rock upon which Christ constructed His universal Church.”
“Baptism of Desire” Buried (video)