The Catechism attributed to Pope St. Pius X repeats for us the same de fide teaching of the Catholic Church on the absolute necessity of water baptism for salvation.
The Catechism of Pope St. Pius X, The Sacraments, “Baptism,” Q. 16: “Q. Is Baptism necessary to salvation? A. Baptism is absolutely necessary to salvation, for Our Lord has expressly said: ‘Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.’”
So, contrary to popular belief, those who reject “baptism of desire” actually follow the teaching of the Catechism attributed to Pope St. Pius X on the absolute necessity of water baptism. They don’t follow, however, the teaching of this fallible Catechism when it proceeds to contradict this truth on the absolute necessity of water baptism for salvation.
The Catechism of Pope St. Pius X, The Sacraments, “Baptism,” Q. 17: “Q. Can the absence of Baptism be supplied in any other way? A. The absence of Baptism can be supplied by martyrdom, which is called Baptism of Blood, or by an act of perfect love of God, or of contrition, along with the desire, at least implicit, of Baptism, and this is called Baptism of Desire.”
This again is a total contradiction to what is stated in Question 16. It should be noted that this catechism (which is sometimes called the Catechism of Pius X) is actually called the Catechismo Della Dottrina Cristiana (1912). It is one that liberals and modernists love to cite. It was not infallible or universally binding. A pope is only infallible when speaking magisterially. This catechism was only approved for use in Italy, and it actually contains a heresy. Popes are not infallible or flawless when approving general works in a non-infallible or non-universal capacity. For instance, numerous popes gave a general approbation to St. Thomas’ Summa Theologiae. That does not mean that the Church endorsed St. Thomas’ error in the Summa Theologiae on the Immaculate Conception.
Further, this catechism is proven not to be infallible by the fact that it teaches the abominable heresy that there is salvation “outside” the Church (as I will show)! Certain statements in this catechism are, sadly, an example of the heresy that was percolating before Vatican II. I will first quote where the catechism affirms the dogma.
The Catechism of Pope St. Pius X, The Apostles’ Creed, “The Church in Particular,” Q. 27: “Q. Can one be saved outside the Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church? A. No, no one can be saved outside the Catholic, Apostolic Roman Church, just as no one could be saved from the flood outside the Ark of Noah, which was a figure of the Church.”
Here the Catechism attributed to Pope St. Pius X reaffirms the defined dogma. But it proceeds to deny this dogma just two questions later!
The Catechism of Pope St. Pius X, The Apostles’ Creed, “The Church in Particular,” Q. 29: “Q. But if a man through no fault of his own is outside the Church, can he be saved? A. If he is outside the Church through no fault of his, that is, if he is in good faith, and if he has received Baptism, or at least has the implicit desire of Baptism; and if, moreover, he sincerely seeks the truth and does God’s will as best as he can, such a man is indeed separated from the body of the Church, but is united to the soul of the Church and consequently is on the way of salvation.”
Here we see this fallible Catechism word for word denying the dogma Outside the Church There is No Salvation! It teaches that there can be salvation “outside” the Church, which directly denies the truth it taught to the people in Question 27. This statement is so heretical, in fact, that it would be repudiated even by most of the crafty heretics of our day, who know that they cannot say that people are saved “outside,” so they argue that non-Catholics are not “outside” but are “inside” somehow. So even those crafty heretics who reject the true meaning of Outside the Church There is No Salvation would have to admit that the above statement is heretical!
Further, notice that the catechism attributed to St. Pius X teaches the heresy that persons can be united to the “Soul” of the Church, but not the Body. As proven already, the Catholic Church is a Mystical Body. Those who are not part of the Body are no part at all.
Pope Pius XI, Mortalium Animos (# 10), Jan. 6, 1928: “For since the mystical body of Christ, in the same manner as His physical body, is one, compacted and fitly joined together, it were foolish and out of place to say that the mystical body is made up of members which are disunited and scattered abroad: whosoever therefore is not united with the body is no member of it, neither is he in communion with Christ its head.”
This discussion on the catechisms should demonstrate to the reader how the rampant denial of Outside the Church There is No Salvation and the necessity of Water Baptism has been perpetuated through fallible texts with imprimaturs and why it has been imbibed today by almost all who profess to be Catholic. It has been perpetuated by fallible documents and texts which contradict themselves, which contradict defined dogma, and which teach heresy, and which – all the while – elsewhere affirm the immutable truths of the absolute necessity of the Catholic Church and water baptism for salvation. And this is why Catholics are bound to adhere to infallibly defined dogma, not fallible catechisms or theologians.
Pope Pius IX, Singulari Quadam: “For, in truth, when released from these corporeal chains, ‘we shall see God as He is’ (1 John 3:2), we shall understand perfectly by how close and beautiful a bond divine mercy and justice are united; but, as long as we are on earth, weighed down by this mortal mass which blunts the soul, let us hold most firmly that, in accordance with Catholic teaching, there is ‘one God, one faith, one baptism’ [Eph. 4:5]; it is unlawful to proceed further in inquiry.”
Pope Paul III, The Council of Trent, Can. 5 on the Sacrament of Baptism, ex cathedra: “If anyone says that baptism [the sacrament] is optional, that is, not necessary for salvation (cf. Jn. 3:5): let him be anathema.”